Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Getting Schooled

Many years ago a very talented illustrator (who's name I'm embarrassed to say I've forgotten) came to speak to our class at the American Academy of Art. He left us with this piece of wisdom: the vision that you create with your art will likely never completely meet the vision you have in your mind. Your ambition will always extend beyond your abilities, but that's OK, because it keeps you striving.  Or something like that.  I'm pretty sure he said it better than I did.

The point is, I'm always trying to learn how to be a better illustrator, and fortunately for me, the internet is filled with tutorials to help me in my quest.  I've found that there are two kinds of lessons: there's the tutorial that teaches a new technique or new tool, and there's the lesson that reminds you of something you already knew, but forgot.  I've found both of these kinds of lessons at a wonderful source called Folio Academy.

About a year and half ago I decided to take the digital plunge and bought a Wacom tablet. I'd been fiddling with it for a couple of months, feeling frustrated and a little lost, when a friend told me about a great on line art class by Will Terry called Digital Painting in Photoshop. For about the cost of a good sketchbook, I purchased the video series, and it turned out to be just what I needed.  I watched the videos over and over, taking notes, and then I plunged in. "Frog Boots" was my first experiment in digital art.

I was so inspired by Will Terry that I decided to see what else he could teach me, and I purchased "How to Illustrate Children's Books." The lessons in this series fall under the category: "Yes, I know that, but why aren't I doing it?" The wonderful thing about this on line course is it's broken down into separate videos with titles like "Character Design" and "Working With Color," so if I'm struggling with a certain aspect of a project, I can go back and watch the segment that will help me most at that moment.

In fact, I found Will to be such a great teacher and all around nice guy that I asked him to be a presenter at our SCBWI Illustrators' Conference last May! Here he is with our other presenter, Martha Rago, the art director for Harpercollins Children's Books. (Sorry for catching you with your eyes closed, Martha!) The feedback from the illustrators who attended confirmed what I already knew: Will Terry is a great teacher, whether on line or in person. You can find his and many other on line art classes at Folio Academy. So check it out, and keep striving!

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