Monday, July 17, 2017

Reflections on the Illustrator Intensive- SCBWI LA 2017

One week ago I had the opportunity to attend the SCBWI Illustrator Intensive 
Constructing and Deconstructing Narrative Illustration. 
For an entire day, we were able to watch each of the talented artists/illustrators work as they
talked through their processes. I came away inspired. 

Ramón Hurtado started the day with a session on Narrative Figure Drawing. 
He demonstrated how he interacts with his model to create story in his illustrations. 
It was mesmerizing to watch him draw so effortlessly—a skill he developed over years and years of practice.

Ramón Hurtado

Vanessa Brantley Newton stressed the importance of children being able to see themselves
in the books we create. Her presentation on Character Design focused on how she designs children 
of different ethnicities using both digital and traditional painting and collage. She demonstrated
how she paints hairstyles, skin color and clothing patterns for her memorable, lovable, diverse characters. 
Her presentation was chock-full of humor, heart, inspiration and song. 

© Vanessa Brantley Newton

Leuyen Pham presented a session on Bringing Joy into Your Characters. She emphasized the 
importance of gesture and good design by first creating interesting shapes for your characters—adding details last. For the assignment part of the session, she analyzed and redrew characters drawn by the participants.
She talked through how they could be modified to make stronger characters. It was such a treat to see how
fast and confidently she drew while sharing concrete tips to remember.

© Leuyen Pham

Marla Frazee deconstructed the narrative Composition of picture books. She gave us insight into her thought process by analyzing one of her favorite picture books. It can, at times, take months for her to work out the pictures and emotional arc in her thumbnail sketches and dummy books. Marla emphasized the importance of working out the composition first and then getting to know the character. The ideas she presented gave us a better understanding on how to work out thumbnails and dummies—tips I am excited to try out for my own stories.
Marla Frazee

John Rocco, master of Dramatic Light, stepped us through his process of how he chooses his lighting and color to evoke specific emotions. He likened the creator of a picture book as being similar to a director of a film. The tools used such as shadow and silhouette,  high and low contrast, shallow or deep perspective set the emotional journey for each of his books. He not only reviewed the basics of light and shadow on form, but added some new tips on how to plan a scene using dramatic lighting. 
© John Rocco

Raúl Colón focused his presentation on Color. He shared his journey of exploration on how he experimented with different media to discover his distinct style of illustration. Along with informative demonstrations, he also shared his sketchbooks with all of his color studies. He encouraged participants to look at other artists work for inspiration but not be derivative. He stressed the importance of playing with color and trying out new techniques to keep things fresh. 
© Raúl Colón 

Javaka Steptoe demonstrated his Mixed Media process of how he created the images for the Caldecott winning book, Radiant Child. As he spoke, it was apparent that his choices for tools, materials and style were based on his intuition, passion, understanding of the the subject and his own experiences. At the end of the day, we were all guided to create a collage that had personal meaning on where we are in our own artistic journey.

© Javaka Steptoe

It was an incredible day. I want to thank all of the Illustration Committee at SCBWI: Peter Brown, Priscilla Burris, Pat Cummings, David Diaz, Laurent Linn, Cecilia Yung, and Paul O. Zelinsky. A special thanks too to Sarah Baker for permission to blog about the special day. If you have never been to an Illustrator Intensive, I would highly suggest attending next year. You too will be inspired.


~Dorothia Rohner illustrates and writes stories for children about nature,  magic of imagination and humor.
Represented by: Alice Tasman-
Twitter: @dorothiarFacebook: @dorothiar
Author of  "I Am Goose!" To be illustrated by Vanya Nastanlieva (Clairon 2019)

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