Illuminations From The Illustrator

Mix Up Your POV! by Hazel Buys

What’s this? Point of view belongs to content, not the image makers. Think again. Point of view is very much the concern of illustrators. Mix it up, you say? Heresy itself!

Point of view, for an illustrator, is the angle and the distance from which the scene is viewed. Unlike the rule for writing content for a picture book, the rule for illustrators is: change is good!

Ask yourself: is your reader looking straight at the scene, looking up from below or down from above? Do your illustrations bring the reader up close to the scene where he is right on stage with the actors? Perhaps you have kept the reader at the edge of the stage, looking at each player in the scene from the same middle distance. Or is he far away, looking at a scene that is being played out off in the distance?

Be sure to mix the different points of view, straight on, looking from above and looking from below as well as the distance from the scene, close, middle and far, throughout the illustrations. It won’t help to have an interesting point of view if it is static from the beginning to the end of the book.

Be aware that these decisions must be made as early as possible in the design process for the illustrations. A scene designed to be viewed up close might need to be framed by scenes that explain or expand on a tight viewpoint because a very close view also crops visual information, some of which might be crucial to understanding what is going on.

Close-ups are great for highlighting expressions, such as intense emotions, that could not be offered in a middle distance or in a view from far away. On the other hand, views from a distance are great for showing context, such as environment or parallel plot points, that are developed visually to enrich the story line.

So mix it up and your illustrations will be livelier, more interesting and much more successful!

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