Making a Design More Awesome (Tips for self- critique)

This is actually something I drew up aaaaaaages ago and I thought I had finished it. Then I thought it might look good printed out and framed. So I printed it out. It was only then that I saw that it actually wasn’t quite finished. Here it is:

This is an example of why self-critiquing artwork is a good idea, even though I’m not sure I’m keen on calling it ‘self-critique’ because it sounds like it could be misunderstood for criticism in a not so good way… actual design self-critique is meant to be a positive way to look at your art work and find areas that you can tweak to make it even more awesome that it already is. I thought I had finished this but after reviewing it more closely I realised I could improve it so much more.

The big space around the edge of my Hello Pumpkin is intentional – the design is intended for a tea towel and space is needed so when it’s sewn into a tea towel then none of the design gets lost in the hem.

Questions to keep in mind

  • Does it meet the intention – go back to the brief and check that it still fits with the brief and that you haven’t gone off on a tangent too much (easy to do when you get going with a creative flow)
  • Would it look just as good in other colours? Or monochrome?

How to spot areas to improve

  • Turn it upside down
  • Look at it up close
  • Look at it from far away

Things you’re trying to spot

  • Look at the balance/spacing between the design elements – are there random busy patches and then random spaced out areas that need balancing out?
  • Layout – ok this is similar to balance, check if the balance is neat and in proportion
  • Typography/lettering – if this needs to be readable, is it? Check on things like kerning and font size as well as font type, would it look better in script, or serif, or sans-serif?
  • Focus area – is there a part of your design that needs to ‘pop’ and if there is, then does it stand out enough (in a good way). Maybe you need to tone some things down in the background

Self-critique might sound like a bit of designer jargon but it’s a really great way improve your art work.

After I had looked at my Hello Pumpkin in this way I made a few changes.

Spot the difference! 🙂 ok so I didn’t make huuuuge changes but the gentle and subtle tweaks to the lettering on ‘hello’ (well I re-wrote it but in a similar style) and balancing out the hearts and flowers in between ‘hello’ and ‘Pumpkin’ makes a big difference.

I’m still no expert but getting better 😃 I’ll be ordering a tea towel sized piece of fabric from Spoonflower and when it’s all made up into a tea-towel I’ll share the picture of the finished product 😃

3 thoughts on “Making a Design More Awesome (Tips for self- critique)

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