Instructor Stories: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
I'm thrilled that Vanessa Brantley-Newton will be returning to teach live Character Design workshops for Term 2, which starts on May 9. She also agreed to mentor a discounted critique group this term, and I can't think of a better person you could have as a mentor if you want to be an illustrator. Vanessa has illustrated nearly 100 children's books, some of which she also wrote. (If you're in Makers Pro, I hope you're watching your email. Those spots will sell out quickly.)
I first met Vanessa Brantley-Newton at a big SCBWI conference in Los Angeles in 2017. She was one of the keynote speakers, and I also attended her breakout session. Both times, she moved me to tears. Vanessa did it again with her intro video for her Character Design class. She's had to overcome challenges, and yet, she speaks from this place of love and joy. And when you add all of that to her storytelling ability, you have an highly relatable, inspirational teacher.
I want to share the following TED Talk to illustrate my point. It's from two and a half years ago, but if you aren't familiar with Vanessa, it will give you a taste of who she is.
I've been selling my writing for about 25 years, in one form or another, but I'm fairly new to illustration. So I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was for me to understand and keep up with Vanessa Brantley-Newton's Character Design class. The work is challenging, but a beginner can do it. It's the sort of class that you could take over and over again and improve every time that you did it.
In Vanessa's class, I learned how to:
- Design a character
- Capture expressions
- Draw more consistent characters
- Make a Character Model Sheet
- Dress and accessorize my character
- Turn my character
- Move and pose my character
- Use color and texture so much better
- Collage more effectively
The following character model sheet is an example from Vanessa's class. She teaches with demos to make sure you don't miss any of the steps.
Best of all, if you're a Makers Pro member or pay for the live workshops, you can ask Vanessa any questions you have in the workshops.
Vanessa Brantley-Newton has been illustrating children's books long enough that I can't post all of them here. She has a joyful, colorful style that's easy enough to pick out. Here are some of her more recent highlights.
Derrick Barnes, the author of THE KING OF KINDERGARTEN, shared an absolutely delightful video of of “Sugar Ray” Leonard reading this book on his Facebook page. Listening to him do voices for the characters will make you smile.
And Oprah read THE HULA-HOOPIN' QUEEN on YouTube.
Vanessa will be reading her newest picture book tomorrow on Instagram, which brings us to our book giveaway.
Book Giveaway Details
I will be giving away a copy of JUST LIKE ME, Vanessa Brantley-Newton's latest picture book. If you win and would prefer a different book of Vanessa's, you can choose a different book (as long as it's one of Vanessa's, haha). To enter, just leave a comment on this post. 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).
If you share your experience of learning from Vanessa, either through Storyteller Academy or a conference or even on this post, I'd be happy to give you another entry.
I’ll close the contest at midnight, Pacific Time, on May 9. Thanks for reading and sharing!
Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems.
Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award.
Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.