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Children’s Illustration Portfolio Do’s and Don’ts

Children’s Illustration Portfolio Do’s and Don’ts

Children’s Illustration Portfolio Do’s and Don’ts

Limit your portfolio to your 10-12 best pieces

The size should be no larger than 11” by 14”

Your Portfolio is a branding opportunity


Only include your best work.

Leave a piece out if you feel you must explain or apologize for it. When in doubt, leave it out!

Make sure it is organized, professional and that images are well scanned.

Show a distinctive style.

Show true children’s book art.

Show animals and kids.

Look at what kids are wearing and add this to your illustrations.

Include different ages, races, and genders in your art.

Vary your characters’ body types.

Show pieces that have a narrative sequence, show the same characters in various stages of activity and ensure there is consistency in the character.

Show movement and not just static poses.

Make sure your illustrations evoke emotions.

Include interesting and unusual perspectives (worms eye, bird’s eye, forced perspectives).

Be aware of negative and white space.

Show both color and black & white art.

Use cropping to strengthen your subject matter.

Include a dog character.

Continually create new work.

Include style sheet of characters in different poses.

Start with a bang and finish with a bang.


Include original art.

Show stereotypes.

Show licensed characters.

Include inappropriate content.

Include Life Drawings or portraits.

Bore the viewer.

Show a scene where all the characters are faceless.

Show still life’s.

Ask your close family or friends to help with portfolio piece selections.


Additional Ideas to Keep in Mind:

Illustrations must have an emotional impact.

The eyes are the window to the character’s soul.

 Characters need to be likable even if they are the bad guy.

Detach yourself emotionally from the final art.

Everything is a character. 

Include and highlight:

o    Varied compositions

o    Color balance

o    Different moods

Consider Including:

Less is more, show only the best

5 human characters – include a baby

3 animals

2 that show a story

2 black and white

2 environments with characters

2 that are creative and unique to you

1 holiday theme

Must include a dog character

Various Resources 

The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children

"The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children" offers invaluable advice and resources for authors, illustrators, and translators of children's books. Inside you will find new and essential articles such as maximizing social media, creating book trailers, best practices in independent publishing, and grassroots promotion. Our up-to-the-minute Market Survey includes a comprehensive house-by-house listing of imprints, editors, art directors, and key personnel. Other directories include The International Market Survey, The Reviewers Directory, The Agents Directory, and unique features called Edited By and Agented By, in which editors and agents have been personally surveyed to provide a history of their recent acquisitions. Key resources include an annotated bibliography of reference books for aspiring children's book creators, as well as a current listing of bloggers, reviewers, grants, and awards opportunities.

To download a copy, visit your Member Profile and select the "Resources" button at the top. You will see a number of resources at your disposal here. Note: You must be logged in to your account in order to access the guide.