View Full Version : I need a bit of help, please...

09-02-2008, 02:39 PM
I have been asked to illustrate a children's book. And I am really unsure of exactly what all that entails....:confused: I tried to post in the Illustration forum, but have not gotten any answers there, so I thought I would ask here. :)

I am assuming that she will not want a photo realistic or abstract style, since it is for little children. She has seen my work and likes it...so I am wondering if I do something similar, but perhaps with less detail and concern about depth? I don't think I want it to look cartoonish?

I have had very little free time lately, but tried to take a few minutes yesterday to paint in a sketch I made after reading the story. I did not do much with the faces in case she has someone she is basing the story on. I need to know if you think it is too unfinished to send to her, to see if this is anywhere in the direction she wants to go.


I know this is not her first book, so I was hoping she would understand it was just a sketch of sorts. Do you think it would 'scare her off' or help? :o

Thanks for looking and inputting...I'm hoping I am not getting out of my depth here.

09-02-2008, 03:27 PM
have you seen the other book she has published? (Look on line at least you will see the cover illustration to get a "Feel" for what she had there)
Actually the sketch you have posted here is not bad.
Just remember, be consistant with your characters.

09-02-2008, 03:49 PM
Thanks, Kathleen!!

09-02-2008, 04:11 PM
I checked out her first book, no photos from the second yet. The pages they showed seemed, um...very simplistic? The faces were just circles with eyes and mouth....very little definition on anything.

Antony Burt
09-02-2008, 04:58 PM
My first thought was that the image had too much detail, but that really is dependant on the age group she is aiming for. I would think less detail the younger the child.

I would recommend a trip to the library and browse books aimed at the age she is writing for. You'll get a feel for the detail level, and colour use, plus maybe get some ideas for different applicable styles...

Then perhaps give her a few versions of a sample scene to see how she want to take the book.

09-02-2008, 05:08 PM
Thanks, Antony!

Went thru alot of my son's books, and looked at some online. There are so many different styles, or so it seems. Hopefully she knows what she wants...I do better following directions, I guess. :)

09-02-2008, 06:46 PM
:wave: Hi Susan!

I am thrilled for you this opportunity! :clap: I have never done anything like this so I really hate to even offer an opinion (as it would be all guess work). Too bad you didn't get some answers over on the illustration board. I think there are other illustrators here though and you've already gotten some great advice. I'll be anxious to hear more about this as you get into it, and of course, see the all the art you do! Way to go girl!!!! :thumbsup: :D


09-02-2008, 07:11 PM
Thanks Elizabeth!

09-02-2008, 07:48 PM
I would sent her a few examples of different styles and let her choose which one she has in mind. She probably knows what she is looking for as she has probably visualized it hereself as she was doing the book.

The main difficulty you will have is consistancy. That is, drawing a charachter the same way over and over again. Like a comic strip. Even small children will notice if some characters hair is, for example, longer from one picture to the next with no explanation as to why. Or why their hair color or clothing changes abruptly. Or if pets appear in one picture and then disapear in the next. Children will ask why.

Anyway, good luck with the project. Hope you have fun.


James :)

09-02-2008, 09:17 PM
James, you surely hit the nail on the head!! That is my biggest fear!! I sort of thought that if I can I may base the kids on my kids...that might help them stay the same...I hope!

09-02-2008, 09:27 PM
Congrats Susan on this big venture, I unfortunately can't offer any advice, I would make the figures as simple as possible a few different ways and send samples of both!! Less detailed the better, I'm guessin too!

09-03-2008, 12:50 AM
What a great opportunity you have in front of you!!!! Not only will you have one of your works published but many!!!!! Good for you Susan!!!
I agree with many of the other comments about being consistant. If your doing many backgrounds with say Grass, mix up a large bottle with the same color so you can keep replicating that grass consistantly. If its trees be sure and make the foliage all the same, if your depicting summer trees, mix up a batch of the same colors, you get the idea.
As far as people or characters go I think the simpler the better, not only will this keep everything consistant with the character but makes life much easier on you. You dont want to paint your main character with green eyes on page one and blue on page seven. I think I would personally leave out any eye and lip color all together unless requested. Most children books follow very simple characters with black dots for eyes and mouth. If you want to be a bit more creative in this I would suggest just blurring the face so as not too show too much detail and easily replicated many times over.
Congratulations on this wonderful opportunity, and we hope to see some of these wonderful works in progress so take plenty of pictures for us, ok!!!

09-03-2008, 02:19 PM
Thanks, Kathie!

Mike, thanks for your input. Very good idea of mixing up stuff ahead...or at least using the same color. Some colors I will probably use straight from the tube, since it will be simplistic and for kids who respond to primaries best. It is supposed to be winter...but there are pines and live oaks...and hickory and gum trees...but the main tree is the pine...the latter, mainly the nuts/gumballs. I will post as I go, when I can.

09-04-2008, 12:53 AM
Hi Susan,
I read your thread yesterday but didn't wanna respond right away because I wanted to look at some books first. The business where I work is attached to a childrens book store so I had quite some stuff to look at :) 1st of all, CONGRATULATIONS....I think this is a great opportunity and I am excited with you :)
I really love your sketch compared to what I've seen in some of the books and I like the fact that you did the dark outlines. I don't really think that you did too much of detail...especially because you are used to work more detailed and I very much like your approach. The only little thing I would change are the faces I think...make them simpler maybe (certain shape of face, eyes, mouth) ...something that's easy to repeat over and over but also something that stands out...gives it character :) Think about Dora the explorer (just an example) with those big eyes and that certain shape of a haircut (simple but that sticks in your head). I know you will do just wonderful with that and I'm looking forward to see all of your creations!!

09-04-2008, 03:43 AM
I am assuming that she will not want a photo realistic or abstract style, since it is for little children. She has seen my work and likes it...so I am wondering if I do something similar, but perhaps with less detail and concern about depth? I don't think I want it to look cartoonish?

Never assume what another may want. You need to ask her, give her several styles to choose from. This will save you many headaches in the future. Also find out if she is paying you for your time while you draw prototypes. You may spend HOURS and maybe she changes her mind about your being the illustrator and you are the one out.

I hope this works into something terrific for you.

09-04-2008, 04:02 AM
Susan, read through this thread carefully. It is about a question on contracts for children's book illustrations. Perhaps it can help you decide about a contract, terms, etc., should you proceed. http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=467996

Remember, you are an artist, your time is valuable whether it be putting paint to canvas or pencil to sketch pad.

09-04-2008, 09:56 AM
HI Susan,

What a great opportunity. I've dealt with illustrators as an art director for a printing company in NY, and the styles can vary, basically what you pick up on is the shape, size, placement and color. The awareness to these adds to the story being more easily read and as well offers a bonus to the reader, child or adult what the words don't. I guess the only thing I would offer would be to maybe pull in your focus, not so much background detail perhaps, but with each page this will differ some so your story is your guide, you'll need to be consistent with you characters, but different in your approach to each progression of the story line and bottom line it will be what the author
suggests she would like to see and then what you perceive as the specific visuals
to attract the attention of the reader. Illustration is fascinating, it's how a picture works with a subject, I think you'll be just fine in researching as you've done.
Good luck to you, it's a neat area of art so enjoy the process.


09-04-2008, 11:00 AM

Another think that has helped me in the past to be consistent with sketching a character is to sketch them in different postions in a sketch book and keep that open when you are doing the real thing...like the four characters that you have, sketch them sitting down or holding hands or bending down and picking something, sleeping, jumping...it creates familiarity with the body types and movements and you will be able to avoid inconsistencies and also simplify the image. It will become easier for you to make the actual illustration.