Monday, March 22, 2010

Illustration Correspondence Course

Can you draw this turtle?
That is my oh-so-clever introduction to a new segment on Victoria Jamieson Illustration that I'm calling:

Illustration Correspondence Course

Regular followers of my blog (Dad) will know that I am teaching a Continuing Ed class at PNCA in children's book illustration. I thought I'd do some posts on what's going down in the classroom! I hope to get some feedback on what folks out there would find useful in such a class- and also to have a place for participants who miss a class to see what we talked about.

So, week 2 tackled the weighty subject of composition in illustration. I started with an old ditty you might recognize:

I said, and I'm sticking to it, that The Old Masters were illustrators in a way, as their paintings had to convey stories from the Bible to make them accessible to the illiterate masses. Therefore, it was important to be able to tell those stories visually. In this case, it has to be clear to the viewer who is the most important figure in this painting- who the story is revolving around. I talked about 2 ways DaVinci did this:

1) With contrast of dark and light (Jesus is the darkest dark, and the window is the lightest light, so your eye goes there first). We learned in one of my painting classes at RISD to look for contrast in a painting using what I like to call The Squinty Eye Test. You squint your eyes until you can't see colors anymore, just the contrast.

2) And two, with lines. Nearly every line in this painting points, literally, at Jesus' (s?) head.

Contrast is an important thing in establishing importance in a painting, and if it's not there, you can make it up. Using The Squinty Eye test, I see this:

Seurat practically drew a halo around this kid, and I'll bet my granny's eyeteeth that the model did not have a glowing orb around him in real life.
Moving on, I tried to demonstrate how The Olde and Newe Masters of illustration pull the same tricks! And how the rules of composition can translate into the children's book realm.
Quentin Blake pulls that old Glowing Orb trick A LOT! 
And perhaps more subtly, the lines and the 2 blocks of dark draw attention to the relationship between Sophie and the BFG.

Tasha Tudor don't play around with subtlety...

she shines a frickin' spotlight on what she wants you to look at in a painting.

I don't think it's an accident that Max's suit is white- he stands in high contrast against the dark skies throughout the book. Also, take a look at the goat guy- he is also white, but not quite as bright as Max. This tells us, visually, that Max is the key figure in this scene- basically, a "Hey, look at me!" move.
Marla Frazee, you daredevil, you!

She adds so much drama and movement with the simple yet daring act of tilting the earth just so.

I love this piece by Shadra Strickland. And it demonstrates so well the ways that composition can work to tell a story in an illustration.

Next week (aka, tomorrow night), we'll be taking a look at my old nemesis, Color. I'll post my Cliff's Notes later in the week!


Kristi Valiant said...

Love the design reminders. Hope all is well with you, Vicki!

Christina Rodriguez said...

Love this critical analysis of illustration! I wish I could take your class!

reub-envision said...

cool blog ... will be watching & going back to see old posts

Nina Crittenden said...

Two thumbs UP!
p.s. I love Marla Frazee's work...

Bradpetehoops said...

Great drawings!