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SCBWI Tokyo Illustration Day: Breathing Life Into Your Pictures

Here are some details of an event I’ll be running in Tokyo in August with SCBWI. Please do come along if you’re able! SCBWI Tokyo Illustration Day with John Shelley:

Breathing Life Into Your Pictures Power up your pictures! Give your illustrations vitality and zest! This SCBWI Tokyo Illustration Day featuring illustrator John Shelley will focus on techniques that children’s illustrators use to create resonance in their work and will explore how visual psychology works to convey mood, emotion, and movement. The Action and Emotion Illustration Assignment to be completed in advance of the workshop provides an opportunity for illustrators to develop their craft through open critiques at the event.

Time:  Sunday, August 19, 2012, 9:00 am-5:00 pm

Place: Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Audiovisual Room, A & B 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (by the Children’s Castle and United Nations University). For a map see


Full program: (includes all sessions plus sketch review and open critique of the Action and Emotion Assignment): SCBWI Members 5,000 yen; Non-Members 8,000 yen. Advance registration and advance payment required; email contact (at) Advance payment is due by July 10, 2012.

Audit/At the door: (includes all sessions but does not include sketch review or critique of Action and Emotion Assignment) Members 4,000 yen; Non-members 7,000 yen. Reservations required: email contact (at)

This event will be in English. Japanese interpretation is available with advance request.

This Illustration Day is made possible in part through an Illustration Grant from SCBWI.


9:00-9:20 Registration

9:20-9:30 Opening Words

9:30-10:30 Drama in Pictures Using examples from children’s books past and present, this talk will focus on how composition can improve depth and energy, how illustrators use color, texture, space, and lighting to affect mood and create tension and atmosphere in their work.

10:45-11:45 Character Dynamics Movement of characters is crucial to narrative in children’s books. This session will focus on the use of posture and detail to emphasize character. Using example illustrations, we will consider how gesture, motion and composition can improve narrative flow and energy.

11:45-1:15 Lunch–bring a bento or enjoy lunch at a nearby cafe

1:15-3:00 Action and Emotion Illustration Assignment—Discussion and Open Critiques of Artwork

The Action and Emotion Illustration Assignment will be completed prior to the event—illustrators will illustrate either 1. a book jacket for a middle-grade (readers age 8-12) or early reader book; OR 2. a picture book double-page spread. Sketches will be reviewed in advance by John Shelley via email before illustrators complete the final artwork. Sketches and final artwork will be on display at the event for these open critiques and discussion. To receive the assignment details, please see above about registration and fees, and email contact (at) before July 10, 2012.

3:15-4:15 Panel Presentation on Promotion and Opportunities for Illustrators featuring illustrators John Shelley, Naomi Kojima and Yoko Yoshizawa

How does evolving technology open up opportunities for artists? How do illustrators survive in a changing market? In a world swamped by digital media how does an illustrator stand out from the crowd? These questions will be discussed by a panel of illustrators including John Shelley, Naomi Kojima and Yoko Yoshizawa.

4:15-4:45 Q&A and Wrap-Up Discussion

Participants and panelists will share final reflections, offer advice, ask questions, and share future goals in illustration.

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