Re: cover for book im illustrating
I think you've done a lovely job for working without a reference. I'm not quite sure why you've decided not to use references for these faces and would be curious to hear your explanation. It appears that you intended to create a piece that is not cartoonish, but is rather more realistic. Unfortunately, in working from memory on something more realistic you wind up losing details that make the piece more believable. The faces show very little detail and this sets them somewhere closer to cartoonish.
Many illustrators use references for the human figure.....at least for basic form and then change details to make the figure appear more like the character they hope to portray. This is because the human mind works to smooth out details in remembering things. In trying to do a face from memory the facial features tend to get smoothed out and a lot of details are eliminated. There is a lot of subtle shape to a human face that most artists forget when working from memory.
I guess I didn't want to go on too long about this, but I wanted to assure you that there is NOTHING wrong in using a reference in doing this sort of work.
"Oh, we are but soft and squishy bags of mortality rolling in a bin of sharp circumstance, leaking life until we collapse, flaccid, into our own despair." --"Fool" by Christopher Moore