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In an effort to build skills and hopefully one day have an awesome portfolio, I have decided to take some very strong advice and work on my strengths and improve my weaknesses. Suggestions and tips always welcome as to where you think I should focus my energy.

#1 - November 14, 2012, 10:00 AM
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 12:05 PM by OddBerryCreations »


Hello OddBerryCreations, first off welcome to the board. Just wanted to make a couple points. If you want to build your skills your time is best suited to practicing. You need to practice anatomy, perspective, lighting, and many other things. Trying to learn by drawing a children's book straight out the gate is not a winning idea. It will more than likely end with the writer not happy with your work and you not being proud of the the work you have produced.  I also took a look at your work. I think your time would be more well spent working on some children's book samples if that is what you are looking to do. The samples you have now are not suitable for children's work. So I would, rather than offering your services at this time for free, work on your drawing skills and getting a proper portfolio set up. Then work on a proper children's book and get paid for it when you are ready.

Please don't take this as an assault. I've been in your shoes as an artist myself. Just trying to spare you the wasted time and frustration.  :)
#2 - November 14, 2012, 10:29 AM
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 10:53 AM by evilrobot »


No, no I am not insulted at all. I have been in classes and have taken those same courses you're talking about. I'll be graduating with my B.S. in Design and Animation in June. I'm not sure if children's books is where I want to go simply because I'm not sure how to get started in children's illustrations. This was essentially a stab in the dark for EXACTLY what you're telling me. How do you suggest I go about starting in children's illustrations to find out if I like it or not?
#3 - November 14, 2012, 10:40 AM

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A good place to start is by reading a lot of children's books. Go to the library and spend some time in the PB section. Some older works are also illustrated. If you find a connection to the types of stories being told, and are inspired by the artwork you see, illustrating children's books could be where you want to go.

As for building a portfolio, a lot of illustrators who don't also write will start by illustrating a work in the public domain. It will give you the practice you need for carrying characters and story through a whole book. To find stories in the public domain, just google public domain children's stories, and there are a number of websites that list them.

We also have a lot of threads here on making a picture book dummy (a mock up of a picture book), so I'd try a search for that on the illustrating board.

Good luck.  :goodluck
#4 - November 14, 2012, 10:51 AM
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Well, I can tell you how I started. I myself did not start out working in children's books (This is also not all that I do. I do anything from advertising to logo design) I got my start as a commercial illustrator working for a local news paper. When I wanted to go into children's illustration I made myself a very simple story and then acted like it was a real job. I designed all the characters making character sheets for each one. You need to be able to draw all the characters in a number of different poses and from any view. Then I sketched out roughs for each page. Picked out the rough I liked best and did a line drawing of each page. Did color comps and then finished work. When I was done I had 10 samples of children's book pages that I could send out. These pages showed that I could draw the same character over and over in a number of different scenes. It was still very hard to get my first book and continues to be hard to get new projects after having a couple under my belt. If you can not think of a story take an existing one (little red riding hood, robin hood, what ever) and draw the story in your style and with your vision. If you finish these samples and end up loving the process (as I did) then this is the career for you.

That's just how I did it. Then I would add keep updating your portfolio with new work and keep learning. I'm actually in the middle of painting out 20 new pieces to completely update my portfolio. So you never stop learning.
#5 - November 14, 2012, 10:52 AM

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Here is one literary agent's suggestion for what you should work on for a children's illustrator's portfolio:

Here's another good article:

I'd study a lot of recent illustrated books to get a sense of what kinds of things an illustrator is expected to pull off well. I've heard people (ie agents, art directors) say that sometimes a person is a skilled artist, but their portfolio isn't appropriate for the market they're trying to sell in. If I were you, I'd study these resources and work up a picture book-friendly portfolio and then try to have some pieces critiqued at a SCBWI conference. And even if you don't get your own work critiqued, it can be VERY enlightening to witness critiques of other people's work. Maybe it's a lovely drawing--but too static, with not enough storytelling. Maybe there isn't enough child appeal. You can use an unlimited number of different styles when you illustrate for children, but in all of them, the attitude or point of view has to be something a child "reader" (because you do read illustrations) can connect with.

I agree that it can be harder to find information on this than it is on children's writing (usually the conventional advice says that someone else will magically take care of the pictures--which is fine if you are NOT an illustrator--but frustrating if you are!) But we have active illustrators on this board (such as evilrobot, who really isn't evil!), and hopefully they can point you in the right direction.
#6 - November 14, 2012, 10:53 AM


Thank you all so much for your feedback. This is EXACTLY what I've been looking for. I will start spending a lot of time looking at recent illustrated books as well as older books to get a feel for the various styles and try them. I also am a creative person and think up my own stories along with my characters so I could probably have an easier time than I think. I'm so excited.
#7 - November 14, 2012, 12:58 PM

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Just adding another vote for studying published pic books! I still go to the library and take out an arm full. Not only is it FUN to read them, to see the great art work but it's always inspiring. Often times, if you studied animation, your faced with Unlearning a lot of it so that you can then find your own style. Study other children's illustrators, check out their sites and their portfolio's, see what compositions they use for samples of children's art.
Right now your portfolio doesn't show any work for Children's Illustration. You do have a lovely watercolour style but now you need to use it with children and pets featured. Kids in a school room, kids playing in a park, kids dancing, crying (don't draw big tears flying everywhere though:) facial emotion and body language is key. Again, I stress head to the children's section of you library and take out as many books as allowed for as many months as it takes to get a sense of what is used and wanted by the publishers. Then... find YOUR "voice"  to tell the visual story.
#8 - November 15, 2012, 04:02 AM
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 04:04 AM by christripp »
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Some of the best and most detailed advice yet. I will do just that. Thanks!!  :grin3
#9 - November 15, 2012, 04:51 AM


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