Thursday, February 27, 2014

Top Take Aways from SCBWI New York, Pt. 1

I just got back from the SCBWI New York conference and I wanted to share some of the insights I came home with. If you want a rundown on all the details of all the sessions it's probably best if you head over to the official conference blog. They did a great job tracking it all. I'll just be sharing my own insights.

Day 1: Illustrators Intensive - World Building

This was easily my favourite day of the conference despite being terribly sleep deprived. Anxiousness and taxi horns had conspired to keep me up most of the preceding night, and then my daughter woke up at 5:30am. So I went into the intensive pretty tired. Luckily I had lots of coffee and even more anxiousness to get me through the day.

I loved the intensive because it had so much meat to it. The morning was all about the fundamentals of composition and character. The main points that I got were,
  • Use your tools to focus the viewer where they need to focus. Tomie dePaola uses architecture and doorways to frame the main subject, Paul Zelinsky recommends highlighting the focus through value.Whatever you use, make sure the viewer knows where the focus is!
  • Character is key. Reference for costume and facial types is everywhere, that's the easy part. Both dePaola and Brett Helquist go through many, many rounds before they settle on a character design. It takes a lot of trial and error. Helquist relies on the face for character, and dePaola says. That costume is key. The main point is that they have to feel alive, as if there is a mind within them. Contrasting your characters is also important. Skinny-fat, big-small, etc. A good exercise mentioned is to create 2 very different characters and then build a family around them so that they all share certain characteristics, but are also all unique.
The afternoon was even better. There was a panel crit, and then a round table crit. In the panel they selected 30 pieces to review and mine was one of them!!! How amazing is that? I felt very fortunate. First I'll share the recurring themes that came up, then I'll share the specific notes I got on my piece below.