Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 17, 2021

Featured: Laura Petrisin – Illustrator Critique – Plus New Opportunity

Laura Petrisin – Illustrator Critique by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne

Laura Petrisin is a retired teacher turned author/illustrator living in the Finger Lakes region of NY. She is a member of SCBWI, Storyteller Academy, and 12×12. She has taken workshops sponsored by Highlights For Children and completed a course called Writing For Teens and Children with theInstitute of Children’s Literature.

Once retired from teaching she has devoted herself to the craft of writing and she she has two picture book dummies ready for submission as well as a chapter book. She is presently working on a middle grade mystery.

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 Laura

Thanks so much for your images – we love the movement you have running through all three illustrations with the windswept grain! Very clever of you also to have the grains being blown from left to right to urge the reader to turn the page – nice! Your character is clearly identifiable – the long, straight, dark ponytail makes her very much an individual no matter what situation or clothes you put her in. Well done! Here are our notes and suggestions on each of your illustrations (please excuse the rough ‘n ready Photoshop chop – it’s just to give you an idea):

Image 1

Love her expression here! Such freedom and joy.
Image 2

Here are our suggested fixes: we’ve added some close-ups of the grain in the foreground so the reader can see it more clearly and used it to soften the hard horizontal in the background, breaking up the skyline. We’ve also enlarged the main character a bit, immersing her into the landscape and letting more overlap happen of foreground and middle-ground. We felt that her head needed to be bigger to look less adult, so we did that too. We’ve upped the contrast in her hair and added highlights to her clothing as well as adding more yellow into the foreground for a bit of zing!!

Image 3 

Not sure what she’s looking at here – an impending storm cloud perhaps? It would be good to add a little something that gives us a hint of what’s to come in the story.

Image 4

The grain (and skirt, and hair) should continue blowing in the same direction (from left to right) – it keeps continuity and helps with the page turn – so we’ve flipped it. This angle of face is tricky – grab a few good references and give it a little tweak (we’ve done a little fix, but it could do with a proper re-look). Again, we’ve immersed the character into the setting and enlarged her – it helps to pull the reader in with her. We’ve also angled the sky a bit here to add a diagonal – gives the sense of movement and something about to happen. You’ll notice we’ve added more contrast again, too.

Image 5

Again, great movement in this image! We suggest losing most of the top part of the window zooming in on the house to see a bit more of your lovely character.

Image 6

Bring in some of that nice purple from the first two images to keep your colour palette rolling. We’re not sure what the red blur is in the distance but it’s a bit disturbing so we’ve taken it out – if it’s meant to be a road or a fire, then perhaps work on making it more easily identifiable. We’ve also added a bit more contrast to the sky to make the foreground the focus and enlarged the moon so that it’s more of a feature, pulling the eye to the page turn on the right and balancing the house shape on the left.

Hope you find our suggestions helpful. We’d love to see what you would do with these notes and how it would work with your story – are you joining us on the course starting 7th June? Would be great to see you there!!


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. Thank you so much for the great critique, Chantelle and Burgen! I LOVE your suggestions and demonstrations! They bring life to the illustrations. I appreciate too the encouragement and constructive criticism.

    Unfortunately I’m in the middle of moving. We just sold our house today, as a matter of fact. So, I won’t be able to take your course in June. But I’m hoping you will offer it again in the future because it’s something I know I would benefit from. I will definitely follow you to keep track of what courses you may be offering. Meanwhile I will revise my work, keeping your suggestions in mind. Thanks again for your wonderful input. I so appreciate it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Laura. We’re soooo thrilled that you like our suggestions! Hope it helps you with other pieces you’re working on too. Sorry we’ll miss you for this June’s CBA course but please do keep in touch – we look forward to seeing more of your illustrations once you’ve moved and settled in your new home. Good luck and best wishes for the move!


  2. I always learn something new on these posts! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Angie. Thanks for your comments on both of the critiques Kathy has featured so far – there are a few more in the pipeline! So happy that you’re finding the feedback helpful 🙂
    We’re offering a FREE 1 hour live critique with The Children’s Book Academy webinar this Saturday! We’d love you to join us –


  4. As always, I love learning these tips and techniques from you, Chantelle & Burgen. Great ideas here! Many thanks to Kathy for providing the space to share this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We often experiment with pages and characters as we put our books together, so we’re continually ‘making over’ our own work! It’s really great for us to share the experience 🙂


  5. Oh I love these suggestions and how Chantelle and Burgen bring out little details that make a huge difference. I’m all signed up for the CBA and critique with these two marvelous illustrators. Can’t wait.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks so much, Anita!! We can’t wait to see your work! So looking forward to chatting in person and helping you make the most of your picture books


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