Guest Post: Yusof Gajah, Naomi Kojima and Shirin Yim Bridge’s “First Look” session at AFCC

Peter Duke moderating Yusof Gajah's session at AFCC 2013Continuing our series of guest posts by author Peter Duke about the Malaysia-focused/perspective presentations at this year’s AFCC.

Peter has written a number of children’s books that have been published under the name Peter Worthington by the exciting Malaysian publisher Oyez!Books. Originally from the UK, Peter has lived and worked in different countries in Asia, including Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. He first served in the British army and was global partner of a major management consultancy firm until his retirement.



Yusof Gajah, artist illustrator and author (Malaysia), Naomi Kojima, illustrator author (Japan), and Shirin Yim Bridges, publisher (US)

The panellists were presented with a packed room including many young people sitting on the floor, could they have been young hopeful illustrators? The objective of the session was for the panel to look at six illustrations from unpublished projects presented by a number of illustrators and to provide valuable pointers to the illustrators and the audience including the following.

Yusof looked at the technical aspects of creating illustrations for a picture book and the suitability and quality of the illustrations. He mentioned that illustrators should make sure their illustrations have depth and are not too cluttered. Illustrators need to practice, practice, practice with their chosen medium to get a satisfactory result. He also stressed the need for research into the subject to make sure the illustrator does not make mistakes with their characters, especially when using animals, fish or birds etc. He further commented on the need to create balance in a picture and that it is better if the illustrations are not always in the same plane.

Naomi who is an author and illustrator agreed with Yusof’s comments and added a number of additional ones.  She looked particularly at the illustrations to see if she could see the development of a story from them. It is important that illustrations for a child’s picture book must tell the story or support the story. One or two of the illustration sets were hard to follow and did not seem to be linked. She also stressed the importance of matching the expressions on the faces of the characters with the mood of the moment. So many illustrators today forget this point and produce standardised comic formats.

Shirin focussed on the suitability of the illustrations from a publisher’s perspective. She stressed the point that an illustrator should remember to provide white space for the designer to insert text wherever appropriate. She also mentioned that cluttered illustrations were hard to deal with and that illustrators should remember not to place their main focus/ character in the middle of the page when drawing as they lose a margin when the book is bound. The end result is the focus of off centre once the book is published. She also made the point that it was difficult to design a book that had a landscape cover with vertical illustrations.

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