Writing and Illustrating a Picture Book Course

L-R: Tull, Lucia, Sara, Farhan

L-R: Tull, Lucia, Sara, Mel

Character Development

Character Development 02

Story Boarding

Final Spread Page 10-11

Final Illustrations Page 12-15

Character Development to digital

I had an amazing opportunity to enrol in a 10-weeks course at the Malvern School of Art led by Tull Suwannakit, a well-established international illustrator and writer. I have always been a big fan of Shaun Tan and Oliver Jeffers and it didn’t take too long for me to make a decision. 

The classes gave me an insight to the realm of Children’s Book illustration and Tull was an excellent teacher to impart that knowledge. He was very conscious of each students personal goals and the little tweaks he gave to improve my illustrations were very effective. 

In this course we touched on:

  • Creative writing
  • Setting up compositions
  • Lighting and shadows
  • Story structure, pacing and rhythm 
  • Experimentation of various art medium
  • Camera angles
  • Character Design
  • Character’s expression and movement
  • How to develop simple and effective ideas for your story

If you are interested in taking the same course or any other short courses, click on the link.


Who’s got ‘Style’?

First of all, greetings and salutation! Happy New Year 2018.

As far as I can remember, I have always been illustrating
but I have yet to be known for my specific style. Ideally, you want someone who
looks at your work and say, ‘Oh yeah, I know that artwork. It’s Farhan’s.
Remember him?’ I am constantly looking for a signature style – the ‘Farhan’s Style.’

Most established illustrators, have their shit together and
they are known for that. Illustrators like Mark Conlan, Malika Favre and Marija
Tiurina, all have their distinct style and flair. Just browse through their websites
and you can see why. Agencies and clients have their preferences too and they
will usually have an illustrator in mind for a specific work. When I get
clients, it is usually, ‘Can you recreate this?’ or ‘Can you do this style?

I constantly have battles with this ‘Style War’ and I think
it will always be something that would not go away. Friends and family have
noted that I (apparently) do have my own thing going on and it is totally ‘Farhan.’
That kept me sane for a while, but when you suddenly fall into that rut, that
is when the battle begins again.

Only a few days ago, I decided that I should go into analytic
mode and start writing down what I think is my style:

1. I use minimal colour palettes - Minimum 3 and maximum 5 or sometimes shades of the same colour

2. I vectorize my illustrations

3. I use frames to feature the subject.

And you know what, it does help. Writing down your ideas and thoughts help to ease that pressure in your head. Now you have something legitimate (sort of). It is also okay to just loosely base your style from it because we are constantly evolving as illustrators, artists and creatives. This is just a way for me to help describe my work (or you can just whip out your website/Instagram) when some asks.

I have also grown (with age) to realise that after all this, the main agenda is to just continue illustrating - draw until your hands ache, until your eyes fall out. You’ll eventually find something that you are proud of and be known for it.

In 2013, I had the opportunity to be invited by Deborah Kelly, a well-known Sydney based collage artist, to an artist residency hosted by the Bundanon Trust. During dinner, we talked about our day and Deborah told us that she had the opportunity to view Arthur Boyd’s 1,300 art collection in some vault somewhere. She said that Arthur Boyd has a lot of great work and some bad ones. She continues by saying that, ‘You may have a lot of shitty artworks out there but among those shitty artworks, there are some brilliant ones. Do as much as you can - so that one day, you’ll come up with something amazing - just like the one over there (she then points towards the wall where one of Arthur Boyd’s work is placed).’ 


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