Hi Alison! First of all, I'm sorry this is so late! *hides* I've been super busy over the last few weeks with cat-related things. But I'm here with your requested crit! I'm a huge fan of just about everything you make, so I'm going to try and calm my fangirl down a bit and be unbiased. <3
I'm such a fan of you and your graphics. I love your consistent coloring and filtering; it really does make your gallery look crazy cohesive. I love that everything is really smooth and I think you do an excellent job of mixing stock and textures a lot. I love love love +this. I think it's one of the best pieces in your gallery, definitely!
So, in looking through the pieces in your gallery right now, I think you struggle a bit with text but not as much as I think you think you do, if that makes sense? Right now, the placement for the text in all four of your banners is almost exactly the same, which kind of leads me to believe that you're struggling with placement. I'm also bad at being creative with my font placement, especially on banners, so I know how hard it is to find something creative that works for you. With +this, for example, I think you could have rotated the word "Nunnery" and moved it up so that it was in the blank space and orient it so that it began behind your model's head.
In both of your signatures, the text seems more like an afterthought than anything. With +this piece, the small text placement is great! But the quote is left-aligned, while there's a natural edge to guide your text in the girl's cheekbone to the right of your text. You could leave that text placement, font and coloring alone and just change the alignment to fall to the right and it would help with the flow of the text a lot on that side of the graphic. I think the font you chose for the word "leave" is a great choice. It matches the mood of the graphic and I think the color was a good choice too. The thing that throws me off is that way it's positioned. For me, it's a little too close to the edge of the vine and the edge of that white circle. It looks a little too packed in there. You could make it just a smidge smaller and it would flow a little better, but I think that's jut nitpicky for me. This sig is one of my favorite pieces in your gallery! It's colored beautifully, the filtering is amazing and it just looks awesome!
The second signature is wonderfully composed again. You're definitely really good with signatures and I'm super jealous. Again though, I would align the left quote to the right. The right quote is aligned to the left, toward the focal point, which naturally helps guide the eye to the center of the graphic. In leaving the left quote aligned toward the outside of the graphic instead of having the hard edge on the right, the eye naturally flows from the left quote, up to the black and white image, over the color image and up to the right quote. The first time I looked at it, I totally missed the text at the bottom. Switching the alignment of that left quote can help, again, pull the eye toward the center of the graphic and would solve a bit of the text issue there. I think the color choice was good in the script font, but it does get a bit lost in everything else. Try varying up the size of each of those words. Sometimes when I'm struggling a lot with text, I separate each word out as individual text layers. Then, I start resizing and rotating each one until I find something interesting and weird that fits together, like a puzzle. That usually helps me a lot because I'm really bad at looking at the graphic itself and seeing where to put the text. Or, you could always change the color and sample from the skin color of the colored Oscar.
I actually think your text is is the best on your chapter images and your icons. Especially with your chapter images, each text placement is different and unique, the fonts work well wit the images and everything flows so well!
So, in considering your other graphics that aren't in your gallery anymore, I think you've really improved in your focal point. I think the reason you maybe feel you have a focal point comes a bit from your problems with text, quite honestly. I don't think you have a problem composing a graphic; it's when you add the text that the focal point gets thrown off. +Here, for example, I would have thought the larger model that's facing forward would have been the main focal point, but when you added the text, it pushed the focal point to the smaller model, which is fine! It's just a tad bit awkward, but really isn't that big of a deal, I don't think.
+Here, I think the models are actually a bit too far over, but just a tad. The male model kind of ends really abruptly behind the girl and the two of them make up a really thin focal point, if that makes sense? Like, I feel like his body should have continued a little further. He looks really cut off behind that girl, so scoot her over a bit and give the male some more mass. That'll redistribute the weight a bit and fill the focal point out a bit more. With that graphic, it looks a bit unbalanced because of the text, I think. The text is huge, takes up a lot of mass and is centered. So, it was definitely a good choice to offset the models to the right in thinking about the rule-of-thirds and such, but I think they're too offset from the center of the text so it pulls a little too much to the right, but only a tad!
I think your composition is really good in your icons! The Nicki Minaj icons have a pretty varied focal point from icon to icon, which is excellent! I like the Demi icons a bit more texture and text wise. but I like the composition of the Nicki icons more, if that makes sense? The cuts and the focal points are more creative than the Demi icons. With the first set, the first two Demi icons (the first two in the first column) are basically sitting at the same point, while the last two in the last column are also sitting at the same point. When in doubt, flip the entire canvas!
I always really like your filtering! But, the thing with Topaz is that it can get really strong really fast. With +this piece, I think this is a good example of where topaz was probably not the best decision. I'm not sure if you started with lower quality images, but the topaz combined with the darker coloring makes the girl look a little bit lq, especially in her face. Her forehead looks a little splotchy, as does her cheek and the area above her lip. You can take a lower opacity brush and erase a bit of those parts away so that the topaz isn't so strong.
Another thing I think is causing an issue is the topaz on the text. When I use topaz, I almost always mask out all of the filtering over the text. It varies from graphic to graphic, but I don't think topaz and fonts go well together at all. I'm not sure if you used topaz on the script font +here, but the edges look a little pixelated, while the rest of the text is hyper smooth, so it looks kind of weird there? The same thing happened +here with the word "Ravenclaw". Again, I'm not sure if that particular font layer was placed under your coloring layers, or if it was a filtering issue but that word has the pixelated edges and the smooth surface, which looks extra weird with how ultra thin the font is. As a general rule, I would either lower the filtering over all the text in the future, or mask away the topaz layer completely, especially with script fonts and thin, smaller fonts.
I love your style and your coloring SO MUCH. You're so good with reds, oranges, blues and teals. I feel like a lot of my coloring looks very much the same and comes out super dark and muddy a lot, but I don't see that with you at all. Every one of your pieces is always very clear and well-colored. I'd love to see you experiment with different colorings though! +This piece is colored very different from everything else and it's a nice break in your gallery. Try coloring with more purples, yellows, bright greens, etc. I'd love to see you try indigo/purple, since you mentioned once before I think that you weren't sure you were good at it! Keep experimenting with your text too, both in coloring as well as placement. I think you've ironed out font choice and now need to tackle those two aforementioned things. But you're clearly talented and you're always experimenting with different styles, images, techniques and graphic types and that's great! Please make another blend because that Nyx blend gives me life. Seriously. Do more. <3
I hope this didn't come out too rambly and awkward, and I hope it wasn't too harsh. I think you're a perfect human being and I love literally everything you do, so I tried so hard to do the opposite and analyze everything without squealing about how great you are. Hopefully everything makes sense, too! If you have any questions about anything, need anything at all, or want to throw things at me, let me know!