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illustrating picture books

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Hi,

I am contemplating learning how to draw just in case i would like to illustrate for my books in the future. I have some questions for picture book illustrators. I am basically trying to understand what steps are involved here:

1. How do you paint the illustrations on paper and then scan them or do you use a software? Is there any good free sodtware?
2. How do you make a storyboard after your illustrations are complete?

I will likely have more questions later.
Thanks!
#1 - April 14, 2015, 03:19 PM
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Hi Nidhi, those small questions have some very big answers! Illustrating, if you want your illustrations to be professional quality, is a skill that takes a lot of time and a lot of practice to learn. I've been drawing all my life and even after attending art school spent several years working on the craft of illustration before I considered my work publishable. There is more than just being able to make a nice drawing involved. I'm sure you're aware of this, but it bears repeating!

So, first you need to know if you work with traditional media or digital, or a mixture. I work traditionally on paper and scan my work to make dummies. (My publisher had my paintings professionally scanned for my books, but sometimes the illustrator is required to provide their own scans) I use Photoshop and InDesign. If you work digitally, there are several programs you can try (and I know there are a couple of ongoing threads about this on the illustrating board).

By storyboard do you mean dummy? Because a storyboard would basically be your first step. Most illustrators start with a thumbnail dummy or storyboard before moving on to larger sketches. Try this website for info on how to do this: http://www.yellapalooza.com/tutorials/dummies.html

If you are serious about illustrating and can afford it, you might try taking an online course. The School of Visual Storytelling have some really cool courses. http://schoolofvisualstorytelling.bigcartel.com/product/illustrating-children-s-books-parts-1-2-video-recordings

Hope that helps!
#2 - April 14, 2015, 03:49 PM
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Thanks, Artemesia! I can see what a big project it is going to be to learn all of this, and as you said, practicing the drawing. Thanks for your answer. What exactly are Photoshop and InDesign used for?
#3 - April 14, 2015, 03:55 PM
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Art, for my follow-up question, I meant what exactly is your role with photoshop?
#4 - April 14, 2015, 03:57 PM
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An important part of illustration as far as drawing skill is learning to draw characters consistently and in action. So, it's great if you can draw a portrait from a photo--if you're planning to draw portraits. But that static setting is almost never what you find in book illustration. You need to be able to consistently draw the same character from a variety of angles, AND interacting with other characters/the environment. In a way it's more like movie making than portrait or still life drawing. But you also need to be able to get across emotion and storytelling through body language, facial expression, color, perspective, etc.

And yes--picture books are usually sketched out in rough thumbnail sketches--a storyboard--so you can see from the top how the whole thing works together. Then you do more detailed sketches (which are subject to "editing", just as writing is!), and finally when the sketches are approved, you do the final work. It's a lot of work!

Arty, I'm assuming InDesign is for text layout and the like?
#5 - April 14, 2015, 04:24 PM

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Illustration is a time consuming skill set, the questions you asked have to do with production and come a long time after learning how to draw. Illustrating a children's book is a time-intensive endeavor, for me, a book can take 6 months to a year to complete for publication. I have been drawing all my life, which is a whole lot of several decades.

If you want to illustrate, the best advice I can give you is to draw something everyday, from life. There are a lot of places you can learn drawing, and depending on your location, there may even be classes for beginners.

Most of the published illustrators you see with traditionally produced books have been learning the craft of children's book illustration for 10-20 years before their "big break."  This is a skill you have to be willing to devote a lot of time developing.
#6 - April 14, 2015, 04:44 PM
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I use Photoshop basically just for sizing/cropping/color correcting my scans (and occasionally editing sketches rather than redoing them) before placing them in a dummy layout. InDesign I use for creating a layout and placing the text and creating an emailable PDF. Illustrators that work digitally or that edit/manipulate/add to traditional drawings may use many more functions in Photoshop and may also use Illustrator (for vector based drawings) or other programs.
#7 - April 14, 2015, 07:33 PM
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Thank you for the information. I don't have the skill set for it. But, I will still give it a try.
#8 - April 25, 2015, 09:36 AM
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