Starting next term, Vanessa Brantley Newton will be teaching a class on Character Design for Storyteller Academy. Vanessa is an author/illustrator, a singer, a diversity expert, and a public speaker. I love her TED Talk, “Diversity Designed by Adversity.”
Vanessa’s Mission Statement
“I want all children to see themselves represented and celebrated in picture books. I desire to intentionally create illustrations that remain indelibly imprinted on the hearts and minds of kids and kids at heart. Images that inspire, uplift and make you laugh out loud.” ~ Vanessa Brantley Newton
Vanessa has illustrated so many books that I’m not going to try to list all of them. Along with diversity, her style radiates love and joy. It isn’t hard to identify one of her illustrations. During our Black Friday Bootcamp last November, Jim Averbeck asked if she consciously worked to develop her style, and I’d like to share her answer with you.
Vanessa also shared that—with her dyslexia—writing hasn’t been easy for her. In spite of that, she has written and illustrated several books, and her writing style is also distinctive. That big heart of hers permeates her voice.
If you’re interested in taking Vanessa’s Character Design class, enrollment will open on April 6. And I can share a 20-minute demonstration from the hour she taught for our Black Friday Bootcamp.
The class will cover how to design characters for children’s books. You will build a unique character with an origin story, model sheets, and expressions. Vanessa will talk about art supplies and where she finds ideas for characters. You’ll learn how to capture expressions. She’ll go over drawing body parts, accessories, clothes, and hair. You’ll dress your character.
Once you have a character, Vanessa will show you how to draw your character with consistency, even when you’re turning your character. You’ll learn how to draw a variety of poses: running, sitting, eating, flying, and jumping. Then you’ll learn how to use color to make your characters shine.
Vanessa has illustrated more than 80 children’s books, so I can’t share all of them here. Here's a screenshot of some of them from her Ted Talk, and a video of Oprah reading The Hula-Hoopin' Queen, by Thelma Godin. How cool would it be to have Oprah read a book you'd illustrated?
I’m just going to share some favorites and the ones I know are coming out this year.
This book giveaway is open to international participants. The winner can choose any book that Vanessa has illustrated. It doesn’t have to one of the books pictured in my post. To enter, you can comment with which book you’d choose. For additional entries, you can share the post on social media and post a link to where you’ve shared in the comments (preferably as a comment to your original comment so that all of your entries are grouped together).
I’ll close the contest at midnight PST on March 25 and announce a winner on March 27. Thank you for reading and sharing!