August 08, 2016

2016 SCBWI-LA, Part 2: Illustration Intensive Brilliance

I am a big Illustration Intensive fan. Creative people, in this industry, have to be life-long learners. Sophie Blackall, this past weekend, talked about herself improving as an artist and compared it to yoga. Even when you are improving, you can always stretch deeper, reach farther... I love that analogy!

I was particularly excited for this intensive because I have never done am intensive that focused on character design.  I am sure you are familiar with #WeNeedDiverseBooks. This is something I feel really passionate about. I've moved around a lot, and many of my friends and their kids, that are from a variety of different ethnicities and races, are not usually represented in picture books. So this intensive started off by prompting us to draw someone from a specific race or ethnicity, from our imagination, and afterwards by reference. After using my imagination (which was occasionally reliable for this sort of thing), it was incredible to see reference of a broader spectrum and larger variety of people belonging to a certain race or ethnicity.

Next we analyzed facial expressions and were prompted to illustrate that emotion on an animal or object. This was all very fast paced... you had to be on your toes in this intensive! One of the prompts that I had a hard time wrapping my brain around was an angry barn. I wish you could have seen the other illustrators designs. There was so much talent in that room. Here is my very disgruntled owl for you. :)

Art director Laurent Linn, who worked in Sesame Street for many years, brought some puppeteers to act out some seenes for us. Something interesting I found out was that a majority of the puppets in Sesame Street are not built with a smile. So when you think you are seeing a smile, or a warm expression, or conversely an angry expression... it is ALL body gestures. 

Later on, we watched some live actors act out scenes or emotions. They emphasized that the less cliche their actions were, the more sincere and impactful the moment could be.

It really was a brilliant intensive. Before we came to the intensive, we were all asked to bring studies of 3 original animal or human characters. Here are mine:

We analyzed what was working and what was not working. Afterwards, we had some time to synthesize what we had learned and to sketch our characters. I think I want to develop a story out of this little witch. 

Anyway, it really was peachy. Next time I create a character, I will have a lot more to think about. Alrighty, back to work. Good luck to you and me on our projects!


Dow said...

Your homework is fabulous!! I love all of them. The little girl in red with the cutout she made is really fun - great facial expressions on all of them. The Intensive really was great! And I agree: we had to stay on our toes! :)

Meridth McKean Gimbel said...

Thanks so much! As for staying on our toes... I hope we get more intensives like this. I learn better when I'm actively involved. :)