Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Children's Book Illustrations - Tips for Authors and New Illustrators

Children’s Book Illustration

Tips for Authors

1.     Choose your final trim size and your printer first, before hiring an illustrator. Illustrations need to be drawn to fit the size and proportion of the trim size at the printer’s specs; CMYK or RGB, for instance. Different printers/publishers have different requirements. Request the submission guidelines for cover and interior files from your chosen printer.

2.     Think about what styles of illustrations you envision for your book. Look for an illustrator who can work in that style.

3.     Know that prices for illustration and design services can vary widely depending on whether you want black and white or full color, amount of detail, experience and location of the illustrator, etc.

 In general…

4.     Be prepared to spend between $300 and $1000 or more for your illustrations,
5.     Be prepared to spend between $75 and $300 for your cover design.
6.     Be prepared to spend between $100 and $500 for your interior layout.
7.     Don’t pay the full amount until the files are approved by the printer. I generally require a 50% deposit with the balance due upon acceptance by the author and the printer.

Tips for Illustrators

1.     Illustrations for print should be done at 300dpi.
2.     Request the printer’s specs for illustrations and follow them.
3.     Go through the story and break it up into sections that present a complete thought or basis for an illustration, these sections will become the pages of the book. Note which section of text goes with each illustration and plan space for the text in or around the illustration. Give these notes to the author to give to the person doing the interior layout. Createspace has a 24 page minimum.

4.     Submit sketches and at least one full color illustration to the author before completing more illustrations to make sure they are acceptable.

5.     Draw in a size and proportion to the final trim size but be generous with a couple extra inches around the edges to allow for wiggle room if it’s a full page or double page spread illustration and for bleed if desired. Don’t place any important elements in the outside edges. The interior layout person will be fitting together the text and illustrations like a puzzle to create an eye catching layout that make sense.

6.     When working digitally in Photoshop, Artrage, etc. never, ever, ever, draw on the background layer. Start one layer up and build layers with different aspects of the illustration; sketch, line drawing, color, etc. When finished, make a copy. Flatten all layers in the copy and export as JPG/PNG.

7.     Be creative but remember, the author wrote the story and hired you to provide a service. Encourage the author to have input but do charge an hourly wage, in addition to the original quote, if revisions and changes extend beyond the original scope of the project. I allow 3 revisions per illustration before charging additional hours.

8.     When designing a two page spread, avoid putting any important elements in the center as that area will be the gutter of the book.

Recommended reading:

How to Create A Successful Children’s Picture Book by Bobbie Hinman

How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books and Get Them Published by Trotman
 (a little outdated but still quite useful)