Illustrating a book - what do I do now?
August 18, 2010 9:54 AM   Subscribe

So, I have to illustrate a book. I've never done this before. I've illustrated before, but not in this professional a capacity, and I'm a little nervous about it. I have nightmares (literally) about using the wrong sort of paper or of the final product looking like nothing I sent in. Those of you who have illustrated professionally before - what can you tell me? What medium do you prefer to use? How do you make the most efficient use of your time? Are there any books on the subject you can recommend? Etc.

This is for a children's novel, by the way. I'm going to have to do a full color cover and something like 30 b&w interiors, some of which will be full page illustrations and some of which will just be spots - like a little picture at the bottom of a page. The publisher has seen my artwork before, so they know that I'm capable. They also know about my inexperience. I'd just rather they didn't have to hold my hand through the whole process, especially because there isn't going to be a lot of time.
posted by katillathehun to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

I work at a children's publishing company, but as an editor, not a designer, so I don't have too much in the way of concrete advice. The one thing that I would suggest is that you do talk to your designer/art director about any concerns that you have. I'm sure you've discussed this already, but he or she will probably want to see sketches and then a finished sample before you go ahead and do all of the work -- so don't worry too much, as they'll be able to direct you if they'd like something done differently.
posted by cider at 10:00 AM on August 18, 2010

Best answer: Some light reading on the subject.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:02 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another editor here. Send an email to your art director concisely describing your usual materials and process, e.g., "I usually do pencil roughs on Bristol board before inking, scanning, and cleaning up in Photoshop. For the cover, rather than inks, I intend to use pastels. I will scan the roughs and send them to you for approval before doing finishes and final scans. Final scans will be 600dpi at print size. Please let me know if you'd like to work some other way, or if you'd like me to use different media."

If they've seen your other illustration work, they know something about the media you usually use, and probably expect you to use it again. If you usually use magic markers, but you think brush and ink just seems so much more professional, don't change without running it by the art director first—it's possible that your magic marker method is exactly what she's looking for.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:31 AM on August 18, 2010

Stick with the materials and processes that got you the job in the first place. You were hired because they liked what they saw. Now is not the time to alter your process. You should be in close contact with the art director on the book, so you should be talking about how you work and what they need.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:31 AM on August 18, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the advice so far! I should add that my situation's a little unique. I'm also the author. But I already have an audience for my artwork, so it made sense for me to do both. The art director, editor and I were all in agreement, however, that my usual digital artwork wouldn't actually be appropriate for this book. I sent over some pencil drawings of what I had in mind for this specific story, though, and they liked these very much. So, what's on the table here is more my style than any specific medium. That's why I'm interested to know what others have liked working with most, and Medieval Maven's link had some suggestions there that I'm considering trying first (acrylic for the covers, for example. Possibly pencil for the interiors).
posted by katillathehun at 11:51 AM on August 18, 2010

« Older I see what you did there.   |   What can I do for my guys? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.