Exaggerate With Mark Teague
This week, in honor of National Poetry Month, I blogged about one of my favorite authors, Jane Yolen. She has a series of rhyming picture books featuring illustrations of dinosaurs that are extremely popular among children. Each of the books begins with a question in the title and the first few spreads also ask the reader questions about what a dinosaur would do in a given situation.
Not only is the text fabulous in each book, but the illustrations are incredible, amazing, stupendous, wonderful, and any other great word you can use to describe the talent of Mark Teague. He is one of THE best children's book illustrators out there. You can learn so much about composition, movement, expression, color, and just about anything from his work.
I had the pleasure of hearing Mark Teague speak in 2009 at an SCBWI conference in Miami. He gave so much helpful information, but the biggest thing I walked away with was just one word: exaggeration. Mark emphasized that by exaggerating the perspective, the horizon, the contour line of a character, the expression, or other element, you can create more effective and interesting illustrations.
At the conference, he showed us how he sketched out some of the pages of "Firehouse." He showed the difference between drawing a regular firetruck OR taking the firetruck and bending it to give it more movement and expression. If you look at the cover as well as some of the interior spreads above, you can see that his horizons are often bent or curved which helps convey the action of the scene. His characters are often leaning to one side or leaning forward or back to again give that exaggerated rounder, fuller look. By using exaggeration, his illustrations become more dynamic.
I myself tend to draw very stiff and straight. But recently, after studying Mark Teague's work again, I'm becoming more aware of that flaw and trying to correct it by using exaggeration.
So the next time you're working on an illustration, try stretching your drawing from side to side or up and down. Tilt it to the left or to the right. Bend your horizon. Round it at the center. Take your character and rotate it. Make it lean or bend it backward. Do something to exaggerate an element or two. You'll find that your illustrations will go to a whole other level.
Angela Padron is a published illustrator of two books, including "The Hero in You" by Ellis Paul, as well as a Star Wars geek and chocolate chip cookie connoisseur. She also writes and illustrates her own picture books, board books, and chapter books. When she's not teaching, Angela works as a freelance writer and editor for educational publishers and spends weekends enjoying walks along the beach with her family. View her online portfolio at www.angelapadron.com. You can also "like" her facebook page, follow her on Twitter @angela_padron, and follow her own blog called "Show and Tell" with weekly posts about teaching, writing and illustrating books for children.
5/1/2015 10:51:00 pm
I've always loved Mark Teague and now my 4 year old son loves him as well (especially the How Do Dinosaurs series) I think my drawings tend to be a little more stiff as well. This is great illustrating advice! Thank you!
5/2/2015 01:38:47 am
Thank you for your comment Heather! My son is 7 and loves the books so you're probably in for the long haul of reading those books with your son :)
5/2/2015 03:32:10 am
Angela, I love this post. Thanks for sharing your insights--I think exaggeration is important not only for illustrations, but also for writing picture books too...
5/2/2015 07:45:23 am
Thanks for the comment Kristi. And you're right - lots of opportunities for exaggeration in the text, too.
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