Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 17, 2016

Take A Look Sunday – Leila Nabih



Wilkinson Studios, Inc. is an international agency representing artists from around the world. We specialize in illustration for Publishing, Advertising, Editorial, and Corporate industries, creating artwork for Children’s and Adult Trade Books, Mass Market and Board Books, Graphic Novels, Educational Programs, Magazines, Print Ads, Packaging, Websites, and Apps. We also do Games, Puzzles, Toys, and Character Development, and have hundreds of images available for Licensing. Wilkinson Studios also represents their illustrator’s own authored works to the Publishing industry, and will be launching Wilkinson Studios Press through Ingram, a POD publishing venue designed to market and distribute their illustrator’s books both nationally and internationally.

Christine Wilkinson has been representing artists since 1985, and founded Wilkinson Studios, Inc. in 1998. Her business partner, Lisa O’Hara, has been with the company since the beginning, and is an integral part of their success. Both Chris and Lisa have graphic design and illustration backgrounds, bringing a broad understanding of the needs specific to publishers, editors, design, and art professionals. Wilkinson Studios also provides art management services, with a skilled staff of project management specialists involved in the important details of procurement, creation, quality control, and delivery of art for clients in almost every country.

Here’s Chris:


Cut paper illustration always fascinated me, and in the days before digital, the engineering and intricate construction of cut paper art was as interesting to me as the beautiful and subtly shaded grey toned images of the final piece. Delivering cut paper artwork to a client meant shooting the carefully-lit original with a large format camera, and shipping bracketed-exposure transparencies, which were then drum-scanned by a color separator.  Alternatively, the original could be securely packed and shipped, with hopes that it wasn’t too beaten up upon delivery.  Artists who could add color by airbrushing the paper before construction, or by using colored, textured or patterned paper gave their work additional flair with this collage of elements, however many purists felt that color diminished the tonal magic of traditional cut-paper illustration.

We’ve come such a long way from those hand-made days! And yet, many digital artists work to invoke the look and feel of cut paper constructions – as difficult a task as digitally creating watercolor painting.  The nuances and sometimes chance happenings of paint and paper, with the shadows created by light on 3-dimensional surfaces, evades many digital artists.  But technology has opened up so many other options and means of creating images that weren’t possible before, and the merging of traditional art forms with the digital possibilities available now brings about whole new ways of looking at and thinking about “cut paper” art.


Leila Nabih’s work submitted for this Take a Look Sunday reflects that merging of traditional looks with digital media. It is a combination of both cut paper and collage elements, with some digital drawing tossed in – a unique end result that could only be achieved with today’s technologies.  Flat, but with dimension; textures, patterns and light effects that could not have been created before with hand-done media.  And, as such, a review of this art cannot be based on my previous viewpoints and knowledge of cut paper and collage illustration.  So, I will approach this from an assessment of what works effectively, and what furthers the story that the art is trying to tell.

There is simplicity yet detail in Leila’s images – the simplicity of cut paper type shapes, and the detail of the collage type textures. I enjoy this very much, as it makes her images interesting, but not too complicated or overwhelming.  I think that she has handled the merging of these two art styles well – not an easy thing to achieve.  Keeping this in mind, here a few things that Leila can do to tweak these images.

I’m not sure why the second image is divided up the way it is. Is she trying to achieve a comic book type of look with the different frames?  I don’t think it works for images like these, at least not divided up the way that they are.  Each of the frames is a stand-alone image except for the one where the gopher is running – there he is cut in half by the divide, and the net doesn’t continue even though the gopher’s body does.

Also, not having text or an explanation of the story, I’m having a hard time understanding what is going on in these images. Why are the people in the second frame looking out at the reader instead of at the gopher?  What is he smelling in the third frame, and why is he thinking of a net?  It’s hard to see that it is a net in his thought bubble, with the exclamation points around it – is it necessary to have this?  Using thought bubble images is an awkward way of giving the reader information – can we discern what is going on in the story by the text, without having to use a thought bubble?

Again, not understanding the story, I don’t get why the gopher is losing his clothes – he looks so cute in them! Perhaps there is a way of keeping him dressed throughout – it adds so much to his personality!  He looks so naked and plain in the last image, but yet he still has a backpack there with him – why not his clothes?

It’s hard to see what he is carrying in his backpack – at first I thought it was a ribbon coming down from his hat rather than something in his backpack, but then in the third image, it looks like a credit card – could that be correct?


Just a few more technical things… Unless you are showing characters at the same point in time, it always bothers me if an artist uses the same art in different images. The gopher in the first frame of image #2 is the same as the second frame, but obviously the time is different. The boy with the net is exactly the same in the last frame of image #2 as he is in image #3. Why do an obvious cut-and-paste if you’re putting the effort into illustrating a book? Also, it’s not clear what the boy is trying to catch – his pose implies that something is falling rather than trying perhaps to catch bugs? I know it’s difficult to show in silhouette, but his pose could have more action to indicate what he’s doing.

In image #1, the digital texture used in the background looks more like out of focus enlarged pixels than a sidewalk texture – be careful about these things when working digitally, as it can ruin the overall effect if you’re trying to make your art look like traditional hand-done collage or cut paper. Be very conscious of a consistency of light source too, when imitating cut paper – all of your shadows need to look like they would actually be cast by the three-dimensionality of your paper.

Lastly, having a big black blob for the top of the gopher hole isn’t really necessary, and brings the eye to this spot, when the focus should be on the gopher and the boy. Make it a clean cut, like you have for the base of the trees.

Very fun and well done art, Leila – good luck with your book!!! Please take these comments as they are meant – to bring things to your attention that you may not have noticed, and to see your work through another’s eyes.

Thank you Chris for taking the time to share your expertise with us. It helps so many illustrators and is very much appreciated. Here is the Wilkinson Studios website link:

A Little bit about Leila:

Leila Nabih is an up-and-coming illustrator focusing on children’s books. She has left the corporate world of publishing three years ago and has decided to invest herself completely into her writing and her art . Of French origins, she has travelled the world extensively, and after temporarily settling in the far ends of the whimsical Hungarian countryside for a leap year (or two), has recently returned to the UK with her husband and her little baby boy. Recently a member of SCBWI, she is currently working on the illustrations for two books which will be published before the end of the year.

Here are the links to her website,  facebook page and to her twitter account.


If you do not have an agent and would like to be featured and hear what is working or how it could be tweaked to help you sell your work, then please send Two or Three SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two/three with the SAME “story/characters‎”) to:

Kathy.temean (at) Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide. Please put ILLUSTRATOR PORTFOLIO in the subject area and include a blurb about yourself that I can use to introduce you to everyone.

Each Sunday one illustrator will be chosen.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATORS: Remember I’m always looking for illustrations I can use with articles I post. Send to: Kathy.temean (at) Put ILLUSTRATION FOR BLOG in the subject area. Remember all illustration need to be 500 pixels wide. Include a blurb about yourself, too.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. That was a bit of fascinating back history about cut paper art done in the pre-digital days! I enjoy this style of Leila’s art and this critique was particularly insightful for me.


    • Was very insightful for me as well. So glad I got the courage to participate in this 🙂


  2. Thabks Christine! Your critique was thorough and very useful. I had removed the text as I didn’t think you needed it for the critique. And you will be happy to know that the second image is actually individual pages and not a comic book type of thing. Many thanks again and thank you Kathy for featuring me today!


  3. Interesting art. Enjoyed it, especially the little gopher in his nest with the candle.

    Liked by 1 person

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