Illustration Tips

A SENSE OF PLACE:  Sharing Your Camp Experience Through Imagery

by Felicia Hoshino

To use visual imagery as a medium to express the camp and resettlement experience,  the following tips will help get you started.

1. The Illustration Process – Visualization

To begin the illustration process, you can use visualization techniques.  Read the question prompts below.  Then, close your eyes and focus on a story or memory of a Japanese American experience.


– Is this a place you’ve been to? Or have you only heard about it?

– Is it inside a room? Is it on a hillside?

– What is the season? Weather?

– What are the tones or colors you visualize?


– Are there people? Are there objects? Is there an action that takes place?

– Think of how to represent these subjects either literally or as an icon.

– Consider emotions – hidden or expressed.

2. Research

– Collect images, photos, artifacts, maps or drawings that can be used in your artwork, as collage, as reference, or as inspiration.

– Talk to family members to add to your family memories and help fill in gaps.

– This phase may follow or precede the visualization process.

3. Rough Sketch Phase

The rough sketch provides a template for your illustration or artwork.


– Consider background and foreground elements.

– Play with the scale of images.

– Sketch out your ideas.

– Consider space for text, description, quotes, or narrative, if needed.

4. Using Techniques–Art Mediums

The following elements and technique are suggested to add texture, layers and dimension to your artwork and allow you to explore visual imagery.  Other techniques and mediums can be used (charcoal, paints, etching, drawing, stamps, etc), depending on your comfort level.


-Watercolor paints can be used as a wash or background for the illustration.


– Photocopies of photos from family albums, archives,  maps, or artifacts can add personal details to your artwork.

– Torn or cut papers, washi, tissue paper, colored pencils, and liquid glue are materials that are easy to use.

– Tracing or drawing images or patterns onto tissue paper add a soft effect.


– Don’t be afraid to add embellishments or extra elements to your art.

– Have fun!

In the aftermath of World War II, more than 110,000 persons of Japanese ancestry – roughly two-thirds of whom were American citizens – were released from forced imprisonment in U.S. concentration camps. But released to return where, after being taken from their homes along the West Coast? When they were finally allowed to leave the internment camps, they faced a new challenge: How do you resume a life so interrupted.
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