Painters Nicolette Bertil (right) and Alia Al Badi at the Sharjah International Book Fair.
Mohamed Yousif Feature writer
Leading children’s book illustrators at the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair (November 2-13) provided an insight into the art of book illustrations, from concept to the various stages of implementation, in an engaging panel discussion at the Expo Center Sharjah in November. 6.
The panel discussion, which featured Italian children’s book illustrator Nicolette Bertel and Emirati illustrator Alia Al Badi, showcased how artists transform stories and texts into engaging images and exciting visual materials, to engage young readers.
Enriching children’s books with colorful and evocative pictures, Al Badi says she reads the stories from a child’s point of view, translating the mental image that touches her most into illustrations.
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Fellow committee member Bertel said, “I discuss with the publishing house their expectations regarding the images. Then I consider the book a reader, not an illustrator. The final illustrations you see are the result of both processes.” For books that cater to young children, especially those who are not old enough to read themselves, certain criteria are followed such as larger illustrations with brighter colours, while more abstract coloring and pictures can be used in older children’s work.
Both painters also said that they vigorously pursue their feelings while painting. Bertelle, who has more than 120 books to her credit, said, “You incorporate your life experiences and visual references into your illustrations. While there is ongoing research and work that goes towards illustration, I know I’m on the right track if the images stir up special feelings inside me.” Colors can also add strong references or symbolism, explains Al Badi, who has noted that in her stories that cater to young Emirati children, she makes strenuous efforts to get the local culture and its details right. “Words in and of themselves have a magic spell that helps us get creative,” Bertil said, while Elbady said her general rule of thumb while illustrating is that she imagines she is a child playing with colours.
Camera operations are explained in SIBF.
Artists also advised young children to “draw, draw, and draw” to become artists and illustrators in their careers. Bertil added, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; that’s when you’re also making incredible discoveries. Be firm and persistent in seeing your work through and passionate about what you do.” Capitalizing on the growing global interest in anime and manga series, SIBF organizers have filled the comics corner with numerous activities for visitors to get hands-on experience building comics. In a session titled “Create a Digital Comic” on November 7, young participants were introduced to the basics of creating the character of their choice.
Workshop participants also learned the process of developing a character into a comic, from creating the paintings and speech bubbles, to finalizing the techniques for doing so. Grace Fawaz, an interior designer with a passion for digital art, who led the session, said: “Children are not afraid to express themselves and experiment, and that is the spirit of comedy.
“It is a mixture between verbal and visual expression. Most children who attend these sessions recognize the concept; however, I am often surprised by the clarity of the feelings they convey as they work on their characters.” “We also have sessions on color mixing, character creation and even NFT artwork,” she added. There are multiple interactive sessions on schedule and free to attend for those who are curious and want to know more about the topic. Our morning sessions usually last for 30 minutes while afternoon sessions last for an hour.” The comic corner is located in the workshop area of Hall 7 of the Sharjah International Book Fair 2022, which is held under the slogan “Spread the word.” Pictures of a child in a plant pot, a child A young boy wearing a teacup, and a boy jumping off the stage, were some of the pictures taken in the “Perspective Photography” session on the fourth day of the Sharjah International Book Fair.
The families thoroughly enjoyed the 30 minute workshop as they crafted their own action plan to organize a framework of their choice. Director and talented workshop facilitator Hassan Al-Moussawi explained basic camera operations to a group of professional and amateur photographers, including children.
“A strong background and foreground are very important in perspective photography,” he noted. “While camera techniques can be explained endlessly using different technical terms, the true result of an impactful photo lies in having perspective. Finding individuality is the key to bringing your visual idea to life.” While the participants collaborated to visualize and devise a photo, photographer Amer Hazem helped to fine-tune the final photo that was then taken which was presented to the participants as a souvenir for attending the session. Six workshops on different aspects of photography take place each day in the Hall 7 workshop area throughout the 12-day period of the book fair.
Other highlights of the Sharjah International Book Fair include a silkscreen printing workshop, incorporating a technique that includes a textile material and stencil for printing on surfaces, such as paper, T-shirts, posters, vinyl, or wood; A place to learn paper quilling or paper decoration, also known as paper filigree; Resin Art Workshop Provides an opportunity for beginners looking to explore the use of epoxy resin to create beautiful abstract art pieces – an excellent way to add color to your home or start your own decorating projects Doll, sculpture and mask workshop for children of all ages Allows them to tell their stories through paper and cartoon.