Illustrators' Masterclass

By Clare Tovey
In September, the SCBWI British Isles Illustrator Master Class series continued with a picture book dummy make over session run by Bridget Strevens-Merzo and Sue Porter.

The aim of the afternoon was to sharpen up our own “critique-ability” so that we become our own dummy doctor and we were all invited to bring along our own dummy book to work on.

This master class was structured into two parts: first, Sue and Bridget gave a presentation using a slide show and looking at real life books to get an overview of picture book structure, what works and does not work, plus practical tips. Bridget and Sue reminded us that for real life books the picture book framework is ruled by the mechanics of physical printing.

Bridget Strevens Marzo and Sue Porter

Some of my other notes include:

• For a picture book, show rather than tell the story

• Make the experience of reading a pdf dummy book as book-like as possible without it being so polished that publishers may think there is no scope for their input.

• Characters must be compelling – it’s possible to be commissioned just from wonderful characters

• Only need to do a few spreads for a dummy

• If I find a book I really love do a dissect of it in my sketchbook and figure out what it is that I love, and also help to see the rhythm of the book

Then after a break for tea and biscuits, the class divided into small groups to practice objectively assessing each dummy book against criteria on an assessment sheet devised by Bridget and Sue.

Assessing the dummy books was fun: enjoying the wide variety of stories, styles of illustration, characters, etc, along with judging the current stage of progress with preparing the book for publication.

We then tallied the total scores for each criterion, and the overall score for the dummy on every assessment sheet to give to the illustrator with their dummy book.

It was interesting to note how consistent the scoring was for each book without any conferring having taken place!

Finally, everyone thanked Bridget and Sue for their hard work in making a most helpful and interesting master class.

An illustrator member of SCBWI since 2010, Clare has drawn since she was big enough to hold a pencil. She lives in London with an eccentric cat, and surrounded by piles of sketchbooks, books and crafting materials.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Clare for your report. It looks to have been a very useful masterclass as well as a lot of fun!
    Keep sketching.


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