Most of you who contact me about illustrating a children’s book are self publishing authors, and for many of you it’s your first time publishing a book. This page is mostly for you.
(If you’ve hired an illustrator before, you probably know all of this already)
You already know that a good story isn’t something that you just throw together. Children are a demanding audience, and writing a book for them, even a short and simple one, is a long process of hard work.
Illustrating one is exactly the same.
I’ve found out that many first time publishers expect me to just throw a few drawings together and have it over with. This is not the case.
In order to create the best possible illustrations for your story, there are so many important steps to be taken before any actual illustration begins, and half of my work is never even shown in the book. But all the time and work that I put in has a purpose.
The process goes something like this:
Step 1. Contact me
We’ll be doing a lot of talking. First of all, we’ll just discuss your plans for the book. What it’s about, who the characters are, how it’s going to look. I’m just as interested in your thoughts about it as I am in the actual script. It’s important that we’re on the same page before any work starts, so that I’ll have a good idea of what you’re after, and in which direction to take the illustrations.
At this stage we also agree on all the practicalities, like time frame, price, revisions, etc.
It would be very helpful to know from the start what size and how many pages your book has, and what age group it’s for.
If you’re still undecided on whether or not I’m the right illustrator for you, you are of course welcome to book me for making concept art only, before making a deal for the whole book.
Step 2. Developing/concept art
Now those months of hard work starts. Mostly just for me, but I’ll let you in on the process. Since every book is unique, the illustrations should be, too. Text and picture should cooperate, so the mood of the story should influence the illustration.
I’ll spend quite some time nailing that down, and we’ll be in very frequent contact at this stage, to make sure I stay on the right track.
In the developing stage we will go through:
- Character development
First, I’ll make a lot of tryouts to find the right look for the character/s. Once I find them, I’ll draw them over and over, dozens of times, to make sure they stay consistent throughout the whole book.
- Environment design and style tests
I’ll spend a lot of time figuring out how the background looks, what colours to use, and what medium best suits the story. I always use watercolour for my illustrations, but additional mediums like ink or coloured pencils can make a huge difference.
Lastly, I’ll make a sheet with small sketches for each page of the book. Even though it will likely need some changes, it is really good to have, because it allows us to look at the whole book at once, and it makes it easier to plan the layout of each page, and making sure everything matches.
I also plan for the text in this step, so that when I start working on the illustrations, I know where to leave room for it.
Step 3. Illustration
By now, I will have spent several weeks on sketching, and now that I have every aspect of this book pinned down, it is finally time for me to get my fancy papers out and get started on the final artwork!
I’ll start by making the sketches, and revising them if needed with your feedback. It’s important that you are happy with every detail prior to the start of the coloring step. Because after I’ve started painting, there’s little room for changes.
Step 4. Just wait.
This of course depends entirely on the amount, size and complexity of the illustrations. But no matter what, you’re going to be waiting for some time while I’m hard at work finalizing all the illustrations. I will update you regularly on how it’s going.
Then we’re all done!
Price and time frame
Every book project is priced individually, as each one is unique. Prices and time frames depend on various factors, like how much developing is needed, how many pages in what size, how many spots, half pages, and full pages there are, how many characters, etc.
Since there are so many factors to take into consideration here, I can’t give out any exact prices, and there’s no way of telling how long a project is going to take before we have discussed every single detail of it. I can only say as much as book projects usually stay within a time frame of 3 to 7 months, and within a price range of $2000 to $8000 (USD).
When working with self publishing authors, I only accept flat fees. I might be up for working for royalties if you have a really good business plan, but it’s very unusual.
The standard means of payment is 50% up front, and 50% upon completion. But if we’re looking at a six month project, I know that it can be really hard to pay someone three months salary at once. So if it’s needed, we can split the payments up in several smaller parts. As long as I have something to survive on while working on the project, it’s all good.
Did I forget something? Check out the FAQ to see if you can find more answers there, or just contact me directly if you have any questions.