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Young Creatives Blog

Coeli Caymo: Gregg Dreise Illustration Masterclass

Friday 26 February 2016

  • Review

The Perth Writers Festival brings together a variety of artists and writers, including Gregg Dreise who held an illustration masterclass on Saturday the 20th of February. Dreise is a teacher, author and illustrator who is well-known for his trilogy of children's picture books about birds. 

The masterclass started with a short introduction by Dreise about his cultural background and life. Aboriginal patterns and animals fill his books (see below). 


We were first asked to sketch a character or animal we always draw which gave me high levels of anxiety. This was difficult for me because I don't associate my art-making process with one character or animal. After panicking (internally), I chose a butterfly since I was working on a painting with butterflies earlier in the morning. Little did I know that I would be working with it for the rest of the masterclass, and I quickly realised it was the wrong choice of animal. 


We were asked to draw the animal we chose pulling a funny face and tugging at its ears. This would have been easy enough, but the thing is, butterflies don't have ears nor hands ... As the masterclass continued with Dreise giving advice and tips, I started to feel more comfortable with drawing spontaneously. The next tasks were to draw the animal from a different perspective and having different facial expressions. The last task was to draw the animal leaning on a rock.

Top tips:

  • Try and include a unique and distinctive component to your work that allows it to be identified as your own. 
  • Draw the characters in different sizes to make the illustration more interesting for the readers. 
  • Use people around you as a reference for drawing different postures and facial expressions. 
  • Create a website for your artwork so people can view them collectively.

After a short interlude, we took a break from drawing and played a game that resembled musical chairs, accompanied by Dreise playing the didgeridoo. 

Throughout the masterclass, we were given insight to the world of book publishing and what it is like to work as an illustrator. Dreise also showed images from his drafting processes and shared the feedback that he got for them, which he stated is the most difficult part of illustrating. 

The masterclass was both a useful and challenging activity which informed me about the illustration industry. It was never something I considered pursuing, but knowing more about it and having acquired tips and advice from Dreise makes it a potential career path.