What is the process when working with an illustrator?

So you just finished writing the text for your picture book and now you’re anxiously waiting to move on to the next stage: the illustration process. Weather you already have a clear image of what you want your book to look like or you want to leave it to the artist and be surprised, you will have to go though the same process of illustration. But how does it work?

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Finding the illustrator
  2. Budget estimation
  3. Time schedule
  4. Style of drawing and color style
  5. Contract
  6. The actual illustration process

First things first, you have to find your illustrator. If you’re self-publishing you can find them through Google or mostly in freelancing websites however this is time consuming and sometimes you get over unreliable artists; if you’re working with your own publisher or literary agent, finding the illustrator becomes their job, not yours. You might have little say in the choosing process, but don’t worry- they are professionals who will select the artist that best complements your work.  Another option is working with an illustration studio like Deveo Media. We have a strong experience in childrens book illustration, great in-house team and a portfolio with wide variety of illustrations styles. View it here.

You might find some illustration prices a bit spicy; they are. According to The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines –which provides the current industry rates for cover and interior book illustration and is used by the majority of illustrators to price their work- the illustration of a 32-page book can range from $3000 to $10,000. No need to pay the highest amount, but you have to keep in mind: quality has its price. So, set your budget-but realistically- before you start talking to an illustrator or illustration studio. It will save everyone time and energy.

You need to be time-aware. We know you are excited to see your book come to life, but good work takes time and you will see why at point 6. The actual illustration process. Most projects take between a a month and a 3 months to be print ready.

Check out the illustrator’s portfolio to get a taste of his style. It’s okay to ask for samples of his/her previous work, but don’t expect for work on spec without any compensation. Believe it or not, it takes an artist a few hours to come up with a character/scene and they will not (and should not) do it for free. If you do want to try more illustrators to see which one best envisions your book, be ready to pay extra. Most illustrators require a deposit prior to starting the sketches, some milestone payments (as he presents to you sketches and rough work) and a last payment upon or prior to the final delivery.

When you get into such an important and costly project, the contract is a must, both for you and for the illustrator. Here is where you decide the most important things about the illustration process: price, number of pages, color/black and white, deadlines (both for payments and deliverables) and intellectual property rights. Usually, illustrators want to keep the intellectual property rights of their work to use it for their portfolio or marketing, so you will not have exclusive rights over the illustrations. This is something negotiable,but, however and whatever you decide, put it in the contract!

Now, finally getting down to work. The illustration process itself takes a little bit of time because it has to pass thorough a lot of stages:

  • Pagination of the text

This is where you decide how you will arrange your text on page, which will determine in turn what illustrations go on each page. Also, be specific if you want a double-page spread or a more traditional, single-page spread.

  • Thumbnail sketches of each double-page spread

Nowadays is common to work with double-page spread, but things can be adjusted for single-page. This step is important because you don’t want any key scenes trapped in the space between the two pages.

  • Character design and development

Before they start working on particular scenes, most illustrators will design your main character/characters first. Here you can change whatever you want, until you are fully satisfied. Since they are the centre of the story, you both must make sure you will create an original and attractive character.

  • Full sketches for each spread or illustration

Now that the main points have been discussed and approved, the artist can move on to sketching up the full illustrations. This will take some time; be patient. Once he is finished, you will have the chance to make changes before he moves on to the next stage.

  • Color studies

This is the illustrators’ area of expertise rather than the writer’s, but you can still have a conversation over what type of coloring you prefer- digital watercolour paintings are a thing right now.

  • Final sketches/drawings

At this stage, you will see the sketches after all your changes and suggestions have been applied. It’s your last chance to make modifications.

  • Final artwork

The illustrator will apply all your feedback and soon you will receive the final artwork for your book. Now it’s the time to relax and prepare the champagne!

So if your have the script ready for evaluation  contact us today, we're very easy to work with and open to discussion about budget, time frame and drawing or coloring style.