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Competitions 2017 Picture Book Competition for Primary Schools Highlights of the 2017 writing & illustration workshop

Highlights of the 2017 writing & illustration workshop

“You never know where your inspiration will come from. Observe everything – people, their actions, what they are wearing, relationships, their background”.

“It’s very important to make mistakes”.

These are just some of the lessons learned from author Marie Alafaci and illustrator Shane McG when we hosted a writing an illustration workshop for Year 5 at OLQP Primary School, Greystanes. The workshop was part of Sophia and Tiffany’s prize for winning our 2017 Picture Book Competition, and was done via Google Hangouts, using the wonders of technology to connect Melbourne with Sydney.

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The students were in for a treat when the workshop opened with Shane showing the students his initial concept drawings for their book “Zelda’s Big Adventure”, and they were able to see how these evolved into the final images used in the book. Marie and Shane both agreed that writing and illustrating a book is like a marathon – but worth it once you get the finished product.

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Marie asked the students what they know about the key concepts of writing and illustrating a picture book. The class expressed some really important points, including that the story should not have too many words, and the illustrations need to relate to the story in a way that implies more meaning than the words give, and catches people’s attention.

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Marie then scaffolded some writing ideas with a ‘story generator’, then the students set to work in groups coming up with their own creative stories and illustrations to complement the stories. While they worked on their stories, Shane did his own illustrations on a special easel so the students could watch the illustrations come to life.

Each group came up to the camera to show Marie and Shane their illustrations and tell them about their ideas. There were some astoundingly creative ideas, including a dog who wants to be a ballerina! The speed with which they came up with these ideas and started sketching them out was incredible.

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Shane finished off the workshop with a guided illustration on the three stages of movement – walking, running, and fast running, and explained how these techniques are used to make a character more interesting for the reader than if they were just standing still. The class drew along with him and showed us their finished products.

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What an awesome experience for this talented bunch of students from Greystanes! And a lovely way to round out the 2017 school year. We would like to express a HUGE thanks to Shane and Marie for running this workshop, to Miss Clancy and Mr Carniel for their support and photography during the workshop, and to John Holland CRN for their sponsorship to make this possible.

Check out all the photos from the workshop in the gallery.