Friday, July 31, 2015

Dan Santat: Don't Draw Better, Design Smarter

In a breakout session with author and illustrator, Dan Santat, illustrators did a lot of laughing. And squinting. Yes, squinting. We'll get to that later.

For illustrators seeking to perfect their style, Santat offered this advice: "Don't try to find a style. To be a better illustrator, you have to be a better designer." 

Sure, easy for Santat to say, huh, but he broke it down a bit more by explaining how an illustrator's interpretation of design equals their style. "Good communication is understanding the symbology of things."

Santat also spoke about "the curse of photo reference." For many illustrators, photo reference is a crutch—and a rickety one at that, because photos can cause rigidity, which "sucks the life out of a drawing." If drawing a train, he explained, use a photo to understand it's components, and then "draw the train that is in your mind." Don't copy a photo, use it as reference.

Now, about "The Power of Squinting." Santat explained that squinting at a painting creates contrast that allows an illustrator to see the blocks of shapes that come forward or receed, something that he learned from studying the artwork of Bill Joyce. Contrast creates depth of field and seperation of forms.

It was a great session, one that covered more than style but color theroy and composition and limiting your color palette, which will "make amazing colors that harmonize with each other."

His art school training came through

Was both artistically academic. Took us back basics of art school. 

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