Saturday, May 25, 2013

SCBWI Illustrator's Intensive

I thoroughly enjoyed my 2nd SCBWI Conference last April! I especially loved participating in the Illustrator's Intensive led by Patti Ann Harris from Little Brown, books for young readers. It was a honor to meet with a Senior Art director who has worked on books with illustrators like Jerry Pinkney!

I chose to illustrate this text from the book, If all of the Animals came Inside:
"When all of the Animals wanted to play, they'd grab all my toys, they'd take them away. Wibble, Scribble! Wipe, Swipe! Upstairs and downstairs and out in the hall, the chipmunks would draw with my paint on the wall."

This was my first quick sketch that I submitted to Patti Ann. I received the email late, so I jotted a quick sketch on paper. I knew that I wanted a kangaroo and badger running down the hall with all the toys, and I knew that I wanted the chipmunks standing on books, painting some of the text on the wall.

Patti Ann advised that the text was too overpowering and that the animals were squished into the corners. Yes, I totally agreed! She suggested that I make the animals larger and bring the kangaroo's head up into the top corner.

In revising my work I chose to make the kangaroo and badger occupy the whole left page and incorporated less of the text. I changed the "wibble scribble" into soft cursive to make it less abrasive. I also moved the wall and stairs back and to an angle to create depth and dimension.

I think one of the greatest challenges illustrators face is working around the "gutter" which is the crease where the book opens, and leaving room for text. I took these things into consideration as I put my final drawing on watercolor paper.

After I masked off "wibble scribble" I realized that my wall color could make or break the piece. That was when I learned about a "comp sketch" or as I like to call it, a "color sketch." This color sketch gave me confidence as I painted the wall a light blue grey.

After scanning in both pieces, I realized that I could have gone darker with the wall color. I think painting by dim lamp light was to blame. Here is my final art. I added the text and crease to make it look like a real book spread.

I loved working on this and imagine that working on a real book some day would be a blast! I love the deadlines and feedback! My friend Candace also participated in the intensive. You can she her amazing work here.


  1. Not many people say that they love deadlines ;)

    I really like how the illustration turned out, it's got a nice composition.

    So what is this illustrator's intensive?

  2. It was offered by SCBWI at the Iowa annual conference. I wish I could participate in more things like this! You should join SCBWI if you have the chance. This years conference was very helpful.