Tips for a better grade with creative assignments:
The grade assigned to creative pictures is dependent upon
quality of execution, concept, and appropriateness of the picture for the
First, here's a list of things that will probably reduce
your grade. They represent my pet peeves:
- Pictures that are fuzzy everywhere - nothing is
- Crude cartoon drawings used for still pictures or for
animations. If you can't draw well, do us both a favor and don't try to in this class.
Simple flat color and simple gradient illustrations that belong in a
basic class for using Adobe Illustrator.
- Sloppy edge selections made in haste with the lasso
tool. Take more time to do careful selections.
- Pictures that don't meet the minimum size
- Upsized pictures or parts of pictures. Upsized
pictures with upsized jaggies and JPG artifacts are UGLY!
- Pictures made exclusively from clip art, or copyright
free artwork, especially the bad stuff found for free on the web. Remember
you are creating work for your portfolio, and you want to showcase what YOU
can do when applying for a job.
- Pictures that look like clip art, even if they
- Excessive or unthoughtful use of filters - especially when applied
over the whole picture creating "push-button" art. Any high-school kid can
- Unthinking use of color (clashing colors,
inappropriate colors for the concept, etc.)
- Concepts that relate only vaguely to the assignment.
If someone can't 'get it' without being told what it is, change your concept.
- Avoid centered and symmetrical pictures unless
there's a really good reason for it. Centered stuff is visually dull.
- Untoned pictures or mixed toning in different parts of pictures.
- Not paying attention to the details of the assignment
(wrong color space, files too small, animation frame rate too low, etc.)
- The use of text as a crutch in pictures. If the
picture needs words to explain your concept, your concept probably needs
help. There are exceptions of course, but think twice about why you need text.
- Not doing research on the topic assigned. If you're
illustrating a horse riding event, is it a race? What kind of horses are
used? Is it Western gear or something else? Call someone to find
- Really DULL animations. I've seen only a few good
ones over the years.
- "Animations" that are actually slide shows and not
true animations (see "not paying attention to details" section above).
- "Refrigerator art" - family snapshots that have
personal meaning, but don't offer any artistic merit. Often seen in final
Read the list above, and don't do those things.
Second, you can get good ideas for your illustrations in a
vacuum, but it's a lot easier if you have plenty of good examples to "borrow"
from. Take a look at the student examples
on my web site. Take a look at publications and sites that showcase good
professional illustration (Society of
Illustrators, etc.) They used to have an annual book published that
highlighted the best-of-the-best and perhaps some copies are available in the
There are plenty of bad examples everywhere too, so choose
only good examples. That requires critical judgment, but that's a good thing to
Bill Schneider, June 5, 2007
Really grumpy after seeing some mediocre class work