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Things you should tell your children’s book illustrator.

Updated: Jan 24

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Are you an author who is planning to self-publish their children’s book or are going through a publishing house, but have decided to find your own illustrator? Then you should make some things very clear to your illustrator before they start creating the illustrations. this list will also be helpful to illustrators who are going to be illustrating a book for the first time. Make sure you ask these questions to your client before you begin drawing because they will affect the quality of the book produced,

  1. Dimensions of the book

The resolution of the illustration depends on the dimensions of the page. The dimensions of the book (in inches) is multiplied by 300 (dpi = dots per inch) to find out what would be the ideal resolution to create the artwork. This way the picture is clear and sharp when printed, and is not too small.

Example: If you are planning to publish an 8 x 10 inch book, then the resolution should be 8x300 = 2400 pixels and 10 x 300 = 3000 pixels. The canvas used to create the illustration should be 2400 x 3000 pixels. You could increase their value as long as you maintain the raitio, for example, 4800 x 6000 pixels is also fine. Just don’t go below the originally calculated value or else the image would be too small and would not look good when zoomed to fit the page.

2. Number of illustrations required

Tell your illustrator how many illustrations you actually need. Just because you are going for a 32 page book doesn’t mean that it will have 32 illustrations. And while you might know that, your illustrator won’t. The best way to go about this is that you mention which pages or paragraphs you want illustrated in the draft.

3. Types of illustrations required.

Spot illustrations just have a character and an object, no background.

Vignette illustrations don’t have a defined outline. The edges gradually fade off in the page. It mostly doesn’t cover the entire page.

A single page illustration covers an entire page.

A double page spread has one illustration extending to 2 pages.

Let your illustrator know what kind of illustrations you want for which page. Some illustrators charge different prices for different types of illustrations (me, for example 😅).

4. Where the text will be placed.

This is very important!!! If you want your text to be placed over the illustrations then you should let your illustrator know beforehand, because that way they can leave some space in the illustration for the text on it to be clearly visible. Mention the font and size of the text too, if you can.

If you want the illustration to be on one page and the text to be on another blank page then the illustrator can completely fill up the illustration.

5. Color Mode

I am not going to go into detail about color modes. Just know that there are 2: RGB and CMYK. If you are planning to publish your book as an e-book and are not going to print it at all, then tell your illustrator to set their canvas to RGB. If you want to print it then tell them to set it to CMYK. Even the same picture can have slight color variations depending on the color mode.

6. There are some beautiful color palettes that you can choose your illustrations to be in. There are some curated palettes available for sale too. Or you can choose your own colors. In any case, inform your illustrator in advance if you want them to stick to a particular color scheme.

7. Character appearance

If you want your illustrator to look a certain way physically (body size, ethnicity, hair, clothing, etc.), let your illustrator know in advance. Sometimes, it might not be evident from the text.

9. DPI

DPI is important to know the resolution of the book (mentioned in the 1st point). If you are planning to release an e-book, your illustrations will remain digital only. Therefore, your illustrator should be told to set their canvas to 150 DPI. But if you are planning to print your book, then the canvas should be set to 300 DPI.

10. Cover, Spine and Blurb illustrations

Tell your illustrator if you want these illustrated too, and if you have any specific idea in mind for them (especially the cover).

11.Raster or vector illustration.

Raster illustrations are made of pixels. The quality deteriorates as you keep zooming in. Vector illustrations are not made of pixels, but points joined by lines. They can be zoomed in without any loss of quality. Be sure of what kind of illustrations you want and THEN hire an illustrator depending on whether they even make these kinds of illustrations. Raster illustrations are good too when going with the right resolution.

Also, tell your illustrator what kind of files you will be needing (.jpeg, .png, .pdf, .psd, etc.)

If you want to be able to make changes to the artwork later, ask them to illustrate objects in the pictures in different layers, so that you can just make changes to specific layers without disturbing the entire picture (For this you will need the source file like .procreate / .psd / .ai)

If you any more points to add, let me know in the comments.


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