A Q&A with Illustration Tutor Sion Ap Tomos

We chatted to illustration tutor Sion Ap Tomos about his Illustrating People course.


  • Education, Q&A

Sion Ap Tomos has been teaching with us for years and now he's back with his ever-popular Illustrating People course, delivered online over 10 weeks from Thursday 14 January 2021. Read on to find out more about what to expect when you book.

Eek, illustrating people’s a big subject! Where do you start?

It is indeed – a large and fundamental subject within the medium of illustration. Illustrating People is definitely the most ambitious course I’ve ever devised!

I’d been teaching illustration for over 15 years before developing this course specifically for House of Illustration so in many ways it’s the distillation of all my many experiences and explorations in figure illustration.

As a teacher you always need to be reviewing the course content. The fundamentals of what you are teaching may generally remain firm throughout but how you are sharing and exploring them and the examples you are showing the students needs to be kept fresh. Developing this online version of the course has been a great opportunity to do just that, to look at it in a different way and make it even better than before.

What can I expect from the online course?

In a nutshell: a range of practical, accessible and useful ways to approach the subject.

You won’t learn one specific way of depicting people. Instead, you’ll work through a series of activities designed to enhance your knowledge and experience of the subject – while always allowing for your own individual interpretation.

The online sessions will offer a range of useful learning experiences. Some practical activities will take place during the online session, such as drawing a model live (with guidance). Other sessions will contain lectures/practical demonstrations followed by an explanation of activities to be completed during the following week before the next session. There will also be group discussions of work completed and feedback from the tutor at various points throughout the course.

Can you give me an example?

So, an early session covers eyes, exploring their structure in order to understand why and how they are depicted by illustrators in so many richly varied ways.

This session combines a technical lecture, an analysis of illustration examples, and practical exercises for you to complete designed to help you make conscious choices about how you would like to depict eyes (and ultimately faces).

The whole course works in this way: talking, looking and, importantly, doing.

How do you break it down?

We start by exploring the face, then the head as a whole, the figure, and the figure within an environment.

Within this journey there are explorations of materials, methods and styles.

For instance, one particular session looks at practical ways of successfully capturing characters of specific and differing ages and explores the mechanics involved doing this.

Let’s talk materials and methods.

We’ll explore materials and methods in a practical way, to enhance overall knowledge as well as get to grips with specific techniques.

For example, we’ll do an activity using ink wash and brush not just because it’s a satisfying technique but also as it’s a very useful medium for quickly depicting and exploring the whole figure in dynamic poses.

We’ll explore working with different sources: photographic reference, models posing live online and the imagination.

What will I take away from the course?

You’ll walk away with practical tools and experiences to use to explore the subject further – whether personally or professionally.

Who’s the course for?

Everyone! You may be an illustrator wishing to develop the depiction of people in your work, a recent graduate wishing to build on your practical knowledge, or someone working in a related field looking to learn new skills.

Just as importantly you may be someone doing it for fun, wishing to engage or re-engage with drawing and illustration.

The varied intentions and experiences of students on the short courses I deliver have always added a richness to the sharing. Not everyone is the same and neither are they seeking the exact same thing – but they do share a curiosity and enthusiasm to discover more about the subject.

What’s special about doing this course at House of Illustration?

Sharing to me is the primary purpose of a place like House of Illustration: sharing knowledge, ideas, opinions and experiences.

It’s a terrific boost to have this hub for the medium, a place to share and spread our passion for it as far and wide as possible, It’s the ideal home for a course like this.

Book now for a place on Sion's Illustrating People course starting Thursday 14 January 2021 or read more Q&As with our terrific tutors Claire AlexanderMerlin Evans and Montana Forbes.