Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 10, 2021

Featured: Ruth Bowman – Illustrator Critique by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne

In June 2013, Ruth Bowman retired after teaching primary school for thirty-five years. In September 2013, She fulfilled a life long plan and began a full time art career by enrolling at the Victoria College of Art and finally got to go to art school for two years.

Below is Ruth’s submission for the critique/makeover, titled, “How To Find A Sasquatch”.
Age Group: 5 to 7 year olds
Purpose: Created for an assignment at the Victoria College of Art
Design: I wanted to keep the text out of the picture to make it easier to use as a beginning reader.

Here is the critique from Illustrators Chantelle and Burgen Thorne Co-Teaching with Mira Reisberg during the  CRAFT AND BUSINESS OF ILLUSTRATING CHILDREN’S BOOKS.

Hello Ruth

Thank you for these lovely images! This Sasquatch story looks like loads of fun and we enjoyed making a few tweaks to your illustrations that we hope you will like and approve of. We’ve used PhotoShop to make all the twiddles to your art – we see that you use ProCreate so it should be easy enough to do in that program too. Now let’s dive right in with comments that apply to all your images:

One thing we did throughout was to enlarge your illustration to fill more of the page. If you’re worried about the images touching in the gutter, you can give the gutter-side a fat white margin to keep them separate, but let’s make the most of the space and pull our reader in with nice, BIG illustrations.

We also centred all the text in a smaller white strip at the bottom and standardized the size to be all the same. We have also enlarged the text. Hmmmm, we might be seeing a bit of a trend emerging here…Here’s another thing we did to all your cute Sasquatch scenes – we AMPED up the colour! Select your saturation filter and wind it up – it makes for brighter, more colourful images and gets rid of the grey overtone that can sometimes creep in with the scanning. You’ll also notice that your main character has a thicker line, bringing more emphasis to him.

Onto a few more specific tweaks now – take a look at your page 4. We’ve got your foreground Saskie looking at your background Saskie – this creates a relationship between them and gives our eyes a nice back-and-forth visual dialogue between these two characters. Lifting his eyebrows makes him a bit less frowny and giving him a sweet smile is kinda cute – don’t you think? We’ve enlarged his call (go BIGGER) and made it into a his (blue) and hers (pink) – we can’t leave off the girls! We didn’t have a chance to try this, but you might even want to play around with changing the background line to green to drop it back and have the foreground jump forward a little more. Give it a go and see what you think…

On your page 5 – we’ve made the background people clearer (yes, a girl and a boy to be fully inclusive) and we have our Saksie looking at them (creating context and relationship). We’ve softened his expression and made him a bit cuter – he looked a bit cross and scary. Once again, we’ve enlarged the text and used colour to show gender. We also zoomed in and made the Sasquatch bigger to create a clear hierarchy of elements.On page 6 all the usual suspects apply – bigger fruit, bigger Saskie, friendlier expression, get a bit closer to your action.

We hope that you find this little commentary helpful and we’re looking forward to seeing you on the upcoming Children’s Book Academy course. It’s going to be a blast!!


Chantelle and Burgen Thorne are internationally published illustrators with over 20 years’ experience in educational publishing. Their focus is picture books for children with several more titles being released internationally this year, because the magic of children’s books is that they’re not just for kids. Avid bookworms themselves, they take great delight in the visual storytelling of picture books, art and text working together, every word and every image adding to the reader’s experience.

Chantelle and Burgen are excited to be co-teaching the June 7th Craft and Business of Illustrating (and Writing) Children’s Books interactive e-course, where they will be sharing their 25 years of experience and technique development. Find out more here or purchase the course with over 30 lessons, all the bonuses, the 16 submission opportunities here  or directly purchase the full course etc. plus a one-hour in-person critique with Chantelle and Burgen here.–Burgen


Chantelle and Burgen, thank you for taking the time to share your expertist with Ruth and the rest of us. I am sure many illustrators will benefit from your review.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. It’s fascinating to see how small changes can make big impacts on illustrations! Very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the little tweaks and the style of these illustrations is awesome. Well done to Ruth for creating an interesting style for herself!

    Liked by 1 person

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