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Formatting questions for submitting illustrations

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Hi all, my sister and I are working on a script-plus-illustrations proposal to send to agents/publishers this summer - we'd really appreciate any thoughts on a couple of technical questions...

Q1. MARGINS AND TAPE
The illustrations are watercolour, so presumably it's ok to stretch and tape A3 paper onto board, then once the artwork's complete, scalpel-cut a 1cm margin to remove the brown residue?  We'll then scan and send digital files, resized to A3.

Q2. BORDERS
Is it ok to paint to the edges and fill the paper, or is there a margin that should always be left clear? If so, how big should this border be?

Q3. DOUBLE PAGE SPREADS
Should these be painted on one single sheet or is it ok to do it across two separate sheets? If it’s advised to do on one page, does it literally need to be double the width of the single spreads or is it ok to scale it down, so long as it’s in the right proportion of height-to-width ratios?

Q4. SIZE CONSISTENCY
Last question - does every page need to be the same exact measurements, or is it ok as long as artworks have a consistent size ratio? E.g. would you ever choose to paint certain pictures on a large scale, and simpler ones on a smaller scale?

Understand publishers may differ, but we're keen to make sure we're following the standard 'rules' as closely as we can - thanks for any help!
#1 - July 07, 2019, 12:39 PM

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Well, for a proposal, you don't need to illustrate the entire project.  One or two finished illustrations should be sufficient.  You can also include a storyboard or dummy with sketches for the whole story if you like.  And a link to the illustrator's online portfolio so their skill can be assessed.  Since it's a proposal, you don't know the final trim size, so make it whatever size you like.  You'll probably have to redo the painting anyway because the editing process often changes things that  need to be reflected in the illustration. 
#2 - July 09, 2019, 01:27 PM
Karen B. Jones

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For picture books you usually need to submit the manuscript &/ rough dummy (or storyboard) plus 2-3 finished illustrations. I would do all of the finished illustrations at the same size - if you paint some smaller & some bigger then scale up or down it won't be consistent throughout the book. Ie- scaling down tightens art but scaling up tends to loosen it.
I paint all pages on large sheets (as 2 page spreads)  - but if they aren't actually 2 page spreads you can do separate pages.
For submitting definitely crop as you want it to appear in the book. But later if you are working with a publisher you'd let them do the cropping. I would submit everything at the size you want it in the book.
Just a side note - usually submitting as a duo is discouraged. But if you are family & the art & text are at a professional level & well-suited to each other it should be fine. Just be aware that they may like the art but not the text or vice versa... which could potentially lead to hard feelings.
& it's always a good idea to seek out a critique(or a few) from other pb writers/illustrators before submitting.
Good luck!
#3 - July 09, 2019, 02:25 PM
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Marla makes some good points. You may want to note in your cover letter if you are okay with the art being accepted but not the text and vice versa. Otherwise editors will assume the package must stay one.
#4 - July 09, 2019, 06:47 PM
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As everyone previous has stated, your initial submission is not what your final art will be, if you are successful in finding a publisher for the story, so don't stress about size of it at this point. I've seen standard paper size used, I've seen teeny finger size flip books used and every size in between. When I used to sub physical dummies, I'd use 11" by 8.5" papers and just fold in half, sketching on those. Now digital I still  do the pencil sketch at 5.5" by 8.5" and then you're spread is the full width of 11" by 8.5"
And as Karen and Marla have said, many Illustrators (and Authors) use a storyboard to sub. In addition to subbing the b/w story board, you'd send 2 or 3 colour pages (or 1 page, 1 spread) with text submitted in manuscript format.
#5 - July 10, 2019, 03:40 AM
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A bit over a decade ago, one could submit two to three full color images without a dummy.  However, with the ease of electronically submitting, there is also a lot more competition, so I always recommend someone ready a full dummy, which is what yours appears to be.  It should be black and white with two to three full color images to show your palette and capabilities, while showing them it's not set in stone and you are open for their art notes.

As illustrators, we all work a bit differently with medium and size. The commonality would be the final size of the fully scanned and readied images. For myself, I work large and reduce down.  It's where my skills are the most comfortable. I usually illustrate a full spread on one piece of watercolor paper, but there has been an occasion or two when I've used two pieces and merged them to make one in Photoshop. The caution would be not to let anything important fall in the gutter. If it's the wing of an airplane  or a tree limb stretching across the pages, extend it a bit as there will be some loss of length and make sure it's not detailed too much or patterned as important imagery could get lost.  I've varied images at times, having a slim rectangular lengthwise vignette on the far left, combined with a shortened spread that still goes across both pages but allows the space to accommodate the vignette, all in one spread.

Some publishers are more flexible with final dimensions whereas others will only accept 8.5 x 11. My last contract is with such a publisher, but the 11." dimension is on the horizontal in this one, so they do flip the images.

Good luck on your submission.

#6 - July 10, 2019, 09:33 AM
« Last Edit: July 10, 2019, 09:47 AM by Cynthia Kremsner »
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Thanks so much everybody - incredibly helpful :)
#7 - July 11, 2019, 02:54 AM

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