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What size should I make my Illustrations?

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Hi everyone!

Just joined the site and working on my first children's book! Hoping I could get a little advice on what size I should make the original artwork. The book will be 8x10..I bought 16x20 illustration board to work on.. I feel like this is maybe too large. I planned on scanning them at home. The last one I scanned at 1200 dpi..and it was huge.

Any advice on what methods you take when creating your illustrations would be awesome!

Thanks!
#1 - October 28, 2013, 02:03 AM

I draw stuff for chocolates.
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I create my art at 200% of final so all the lovely detail can fit in. There is no "wrong" size. Find what works for your method and style. It's a matter of trail and error. The only thing I suggest is not working smaller than your final and there is little to no reason to use DPI higher than 600 when scanning. 99% of printers call for a dpi of 300 although I have had a few call for a higher dpi. However, that is information you need to ask the printer before preparing artwork.

Good luck on your first book. :)

PS right now I'm working on an electronic piece which actual size is 68" x 45". Obviously that file is quite large. Such large dimensions are necessary because of my highly detailed style. I'd never create a physical traditional media piece that large!
#2 - October 28, 2013, 05:19 AM
patreon.com/wendymartin
Animal Totem Mandala 2016
The Story Circle 2016 (PiƱata)
Color and Conjure 2017 (Llewellyn)

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My contracted work is at 100% (but Wendy is right that some work larger) and even though the publisher sends my work out to be scanned, I did my own scans for the galleys and a couple of patches and 400 dpi was what they asked for.
#3 - October 28, 2013, 09:06 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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I'm not sure, but I think there might be two, and maybe three, questions hiding in here: (1) how big is the physical artwork (e.g., 8" x 10"), (2) how big is the physical artwork compared to the final trim size (e.g., the original is 200% (or twice as big) as the final trim size), and (3) how big is the scanned file (e.g., 300 dpi).  Anyway, here's my two cents on all three:

On the physical size of the artwork:  I've tried for years to get someone in publishing to give me a list of standard sizes (i.e., sizes that don't entail extra production costs that might scare off otherwise interested editors), but everyone just keeps assuring me that I should work in whatever size would best serve the piece.  What's I've ended up doing is just measuring a handful of books I liked and aping their sizes.  So, my early readers are 6" x 9" (a format I've ripped off from Arnold Lobel) and my picture books are 8 1/2" x 11" (a format I ripped off from my printer at home).  The dreaded 8 1/2" x 11" has always been very well received, which makes me think it must be relatively cheap to produce.  But taking a spin through the children's section at your local library/bookstore should reveal some other fairly common sizes.

On the physical artwork's proportion to the trim size: I work at 100%, so the final printed page is the same size as I drew it.  I've heard of people working larger and then shrinking the original art to fit the final trim size, thereby making the detail work easier to fit in.  And I also know of at least on illustrator who works smaller, blowing up the artwork to fit the trim size (she likes what this does to the texture of her linework).  I work at 100% myself because I lack imagination; working at actual size is the only way for me to know what the final art will look like as I'm working on it.  Since I do a lot of line work, the weight of the line is important, and my feeling is that shrinking it down (and thus making the line a lighter weight), changes the proportions line to shape in ways that I don't like.  For those who know how to navigate this change, it can be a great tool, but I just don't have it in me.

On the size of the file: I always ship my physical work off to the publisher, who then takes care of the scanning on their end.  After they finish tearing their hair out at all the changes that need to be made, they send me the digital files and I tinker with them as best I can on my end (using extremely rudimentary photoshop).  The files they send me to work on are 300 dpi, which leads me to believe that the reason they don't bother scanning at any resolution much higher than that because it isn't going to end up showing on the page.  Obviously there is some wiggle (Artemesia has people asking for 400dpi and it sounds like Wendy has had call for 600 dpi), but 1200 dpi seems like it might be on the high side.

Sorry if I'm responding to phantom questions (and if my answer to the actual question wasn't very helpful).
#4 - October 28, 2013, 02:24 PM

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Just to confuse or clarify further, take your pick,  :eh2 Josh, I think my publisher sends my work out to be scanned at 300 on their end, but from me for the galleys they asked for 400 just so they had some room to resize as they were still playing with layout at that stage. I don't do any tinkering on my end after scanning so i don't know what their files look like, but my awesome design peeps have done the odd tinker on their end.
#5 - October 28, 2013, 02:56 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

http://cyndimarko.com
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I work small, thumbnail size, usually about 1 x 2", then when I get the layout the way I want it, I enlarge it on my scanner to 100% for the size page I'm working on. Then I re-draw it for the final size page, usually 8 x 10". Working smaller and faster on thumbnail size helps me see how the pages will come together. After blowing it up on scanner to the right size, I trace it on to paper or board and then paint it. Then when I'm satisfied, I paint it again onto better paper or board. I used to cut the huge sheets of board down to 8 x 10" size myself, but got sick of spending time doing that and spending $ on blades, and the wear and tear on my hands from cutting board. I still will cut paper down to size but that's quick and easy. If I'm using board, I try to order them as close to the finished size that I can. Good luck on your first children's book, that's exciting!
#6 - November 05, 2013, 04:29 PM

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