Hello there, ms. or mr. Author! Here’s a little explanation to how it works when you hire me to illustrate for you.
(If you’ve hired an illustrator before, you probably know most 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.
It would be cheap, fast and convenient for the both of us if I were to just throw a few drawings together and have it over with. And technically, I could. But I’m not going to.
My name is going to be on that book too, and I don’t want to publish anything that I’m not proud of. So you can be certain that I’m going to do my very best to make sure your book turns out as good as I can possibly make it.
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 timeframe, 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, 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!
There are so many factors to take into consideration here. How many illustrations will be needed, how complex they are, whether the cover will have original artwork or reuse one from the interior, how many half pages, spots, full spreads, etc. Each project has a different cost, and I can’t give out any exact prices. But I know that this is really important for you to know, so to try and make it a little easier for you, I have made this little list. These prices are based on the time that I typically spend on sketching and painting. They have a pretty big range, and are still only estimations, but I hope it can be somewhat helpful anyways.
Developing/concept art – $150 – $250 (depends on number of pages and characters.)
Spot illustration – $20 – $50
Half page illustration – $50 – $75
Single page illustration – $75 – $125
Double page spread illustration – $125 – $200
Cover illustration – $75 – $150
I know that this might be a lot more than you expected. I understand that. I didn’t know how much work goes into a single book illustration ether, before I started making them.
If you’re thinking “no way!” right now, I have three suggestions on how to get your book out there without starving your wallet to death. Follow THIS link to find them.
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.