Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Going Digital: From Colored Pencils to the Apple Digital Pencil With Illustrator, Daniel Schallau.

March 12, 2017

Post by Mari Boyle, Tokyo

On March 12th, 2017, in a two-part SCBWI Japan event, Daniel Schallau, published children’s book illustrator, gave us insights into his pencil illustration work. Up until six months or so ago, Dan created most of his illustrations by hand. His medium was primarily color pencils, plus some very special ink pens. In a morning session at the Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Dan showed us some of his original, painstakingly detailed drawings, each one taking months of work to complete. As someone whose drawing skills are limited to stick figures, I was in awe of Dan’s work. The detail, effort, and imagination that is poured into each piece is considerable. Focusing our attention on some of the minutiae of his craft, Dan took us on a journey through his illustrations with special video and soundtrack. It was mesmerizing. 

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Not our ordinary pens and pencils; these have style and tech.

Dan illustration 2

Dan recently added a new tool to his pencil case, the Apple Pencil, which is used with the iPad Pro (though there are other ‘smart pencils’ and tablets available). Dan showed us how embracing this new technology has impacted his work, comparing and contrasting with his traditionally drawn illustrations. Whilst time-saving aspects were significant, Dan noted that there are techniques and artistic effects that he was not able to perfect through drawing solely by hand before. The smart pencil and drawing apps that he uses have expanded his creative repertoire, and the results are equally stunning.

After a quick lunch and a brisk walk to the nearby Apple Store in Omotesando, we participants were given the opportunity to have a hands-on trial of the Apple Pencil. I must admit I was eager to try out the pencil but was feeling a little worried too, particularly as I was surrounded by a number of accomplished artists and illustrators. Dan guided us through setups and menus and other such technical things, but to make it easier for us he had prepared an illustration for us to ‘play’ with. Though I had a couple of hiccups getting started, I must admit that once I found my flow, it really was lots of fun. I was surprised at how easy it was to use the pencil and was soon happily coloring in. 

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So many tools, but our very own guide helped us flow with new techniques and technology.

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When is part two?

Surrounded by working chatter, everyone at the session was soon engrossed in picking and choosing colors, trying out different techniques and sharing their efforts.

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With Dan, in the heart of Tokyo’s Omotesando Apple Store.

As is the way of these things, time passed all too quickly. I could have happily stayed there for another hour or so. 

At the end of the session, there were a couple of questions, some a little too technical for my understanding. But there was one question right at the end, which I hope will be answered soon,

“When is Part 2?”

Sign me up, I’d love to try it again. 

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Dan Schallau, center, with event participants

For more information about Daniel Schallau’s work and to see some of his amazing illustrations and videos, please check out his website:

To head to the Apple Store on your own, find access and hours here.