With the writing and editing of your children’s book being done, now it’s time to get your idea portrayed. The most important thing now is to ask yourself: What will my book look like? How do I imagine it to be? And if you haven’t visualized it yet, don’t worry. We’re here to guide you step by step.
If you don’t have a visual idea of what your book should look like there are a couple of things to know, and even if you have imagined it, it’s never a bad idea to look at a few illustration styles before you begin. Who knows, maybe you’ll see an upgrade on your idea to make the book just perfect.
So let’s start with the basics. In the broadest sense of illustration categories, there are two types: traditional and digital illustration.
This type of art refers to every illustration that is hand-drawn on paper or created. There are a few styles. Pencil, charcoal, lithography, pen & ink, watercolor, and acrylic illustration. We’ll describe them to you in short, but be sure to do your own research. The results might guide you further.
This is an art form mostly used for sketching with graphite but colors could be added and illustrations can magically come to life. As an art form, it’s the successor of the late medieval/renaissance masters who used the metallic drawing stylus.
Charcoal is mainly used to quickly outline the initial and rough ideas of the artist. Obviously, an artist can’t be as precise with charcoal as with a pencil, but it’s perfect for drawing shadows and defining volume.
Lithography is a really interesting process in which ink is applied to a grease-treated image on a flat printing surface. The coolest part is that the moist, blank areas reject the ink. Then, it’s just printed on paper with a press. This technique was invented in 1789.
I believe that there is no person on Earth who hasn’t used watercolors as a kid, so this should be pretty much covered. Right? Well, let’s add the info just in case. This painting method compares in range with any other. For example, transparent watercolors add freshness and brightness. It can also be used for details so it’s no wonder why it’s one of the most used techniques for illustrating children’s books.
The method of using fast-drying, synthetic acrylic raisins is perfect for novice illustrators (this one’s for you, guys!). It’s a tool for any pigment and it can create freshness like watercolor or density like an oil painting. Oh, did I mention that they become water-resistant once they dry up?
Modern illustration in methods is similar to traditional, the difference being that this is done using software and for better precision, graphic tablet. In general, there are two categories. Let’s break them down.
Freehand Digital Illustration
This is the exact same method as pen & ink just with a stylus or a tablet pen, aiming to create digital art through the endless imagination and talent of the artist. The common software the artists use is Adobe Photoshop, Procreate, Krita, and many more. Nowadays, more and more artists are using this approach, as the possibilities are endless, each day new brushes and pencils are created that look like the traditional brushes and pencils, so the end result looks like an illustration on paper, and you wouldn’t even know the difference. Also, the drawing tablets are getting cheaper and affordable, so the artist won’t need to run to the store each time they run out of color and paper.
And imagine this: a paperless environment and wonderful illustrations can be put in one sentence.
The creation of art by using vector illustration software like Adobe Illustrator. Basically, it’s the creation of images created with mathematical formulas. Those are called vector graphics and they allow the artist to create art that can expand to any size. This resolution independence allows vector art to be used in a variety of forms, from small illustrations to logos to massive billboards.
Choosing an illustrator/studio
After you select your style it’s time to choose the right person or a team for your project. It’s really important to be present in various Facebook groups, ask fellow published authors about illustrators or studios, and do thorough research to find the one that suits your ideas best. Browse through their portfolios, get info about their quotes, and only after you take all these steps, make your final decision. The moment you’ve clicked with the illustrator or studio you’ve selected, you can have a partnership for life. That’s someone with whom you share your idea and he presents you with the best-suited options for your book. If you decide to print the book, you should know something about the number of pages. The most common number is 32 pages. Of course, there are books with more or less. When choosing the number of pages, you should know that it has to be divisible by 4. Because one leaf has two sides and four pages. The most commonly used formats are 8.5x11 and 10x10 but the dimensions can vary as well (tell us if you'd like this topic covered in a separate blog post and we'll get on it).
Choosing a visual style is a critical step towards publishing your book. You can always change the style but it’s preferable to have a distinct one, that the children and their parents will connect to you. This can, of course, vary from the age of the children your book is intended for. But that doesn’t mean that your chosen studio or illustrator couldn’t cover all the styles you need.
Next, we’ll break down how to trumpet your intention of publishing an illustrated book for children in the artistic community, the contract you’re going to sign with the illustrator or studio, copyright, and all things concerning. Until next Friday.