Monday, August 3, 2015

Camera, Action!!

Have you ever watched your favorite movie and thought "Why do I like this so much?" Have you ever thought about what makes it great?

At the 2014 LA conference, I had the honor of having my portfolio critiqued by editors, art directors, and fellow illustrators who let me know that I needed to push my point of view in my illustrations. "Point of view?" I thought, "What does that mean?" It wasn't until Cecilia Yung said "You need to be the director of your own story. Show me some more camera movement!" that I understood precisely what everyone had been saying.

As illustrators, it is our job to make the "script" (awesome story) into a series of visuals that makes our audience think "Holy Toledo! What happens next?" There is nothing more important than giving the reader the itch to turn the page.

Take a look at the image below:

It is very simple. Two boys are playing football, but there is no question here. There is no reason for a reader to turn the page, but if I start changing the angles....

                                           Bird's Eye View                       Worm's Eye View

Isn't that more interesting? Although these sketches still aren't ready for the final stage, changing the point of view gives each image a different feeling and encourages the reader to ask a question.

If you are struggling with an image, I would encourage you to push it! Push your size relationships using point of view. For example, the image from worm's eye view pushes the front character forward so that he looks significantly larger than the second character. The focus on this particular character makes us feel like he is the most important part of the image. We can even speculate that he is the main character and there you have the beginning of an image that tells a story!

Now, what happens if you see this image from the boy's point of view? What happens if you tilt the ground so that it is diagonal?

It is so important to play and have fun in this stage of your drawing. Try creating at least 8 different images that push your point of view in some way. Think outside the box! You might end up with something that you wouldn't have even thought of before that really brings your work to a new level. Go for it!!

Are you ready for a challenge? I challenge you to put in your favorite movie (it can be a cartoon or a live action film). Make sure you have the remote, a few pieces of paper, a drawing surface, and drawing utensils of your choice. As you are watching your movie I want you to pause it at least once every 20 minutes and draw what you see! It doesn't need to be a super fancy, detailed image. A sketch will do. The goal is to capture the composition on the screen. Who is closer? Who is farther away? Is there an interesting point of view that you might not have noticed before? Try it out and you might be surprised at the inspiration that strikes you!

Happy drawing, everyone :D! I would love to hear what your movie of choice was in the comments below. Did the challenge inspire you to create a new piece? Do tell :).

 ~Jeslyn Kate

Jeslyn Kate writes/illustrates for children and teaches art.
You can find her work at 
these different locations:
Twitter: @jeslynkate


  1. I loved your post, Jeslyn! It surely makes the illustrations more interesting and exciting! Thank you so much for sharing! I'll choose ""Peter Pan" (the 2003 version). Wish me luck!

  2. Wow, Thank you. This is a great post and challenge, thank you for sharing.