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I have always been the sort of person to not over-think what I am drawing; that’s the best way to get it wrong! I tend to be expressive and quirky, and I like my illustrations to have something unique about them. However, every single drawing or painting needs a certain amount of preparation and planning, so here’s what happens!

My Method of Drawing

I like to scribble ideas down, whether it’s on the best quality watercolour paper or simply on a napkin! It’s all part of the crucial process of developing an image.

Sketching out the ideas kick-starts the whole process. Once these ideas are finally on paper I use the “Lightbox” process, building up images layer by layer, thus making the most simple image become complex and detailed.

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This is also a good method when drawing people, with their different angles and minute stages of movement. This is where knowing the character is crucial! It is so important for you to have a clear profile of your characters, whether it’s in your head or on paper. You need to know how the characters stand, what sort of expressions they have and how they fit on the page. It’s also good to consider how your characters will visually interact with your other characters.

childrens-illustrator

What Do I Need to Know About Your Picture Book Idea?

  • What are the personalities of each character?
  • What does each character look like?
  • What is the theme/style/mood of the picture book?
  • What is going to go on which page?
  • How is the book’s layout going to enhance the flow of the story?
  • How do the characters move around in the book?

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When faced with this kind of planning I tend to not think too hard about the logistics. I like to work on my gut instinct; I find that working this way is a great thing, trusting yourself to know what looks and feels right. For me, being a little spontaneous is a good way to work.

You Need to Be Self-Critical

Yep, I know, sometimes it’s hard when you have spent three months (or more) on a book, and then have to objectively critique it. Trying to improve work you feel you’ve already analysed, ripped up, started again, re-analysed, ripped up and re-started again, can be really hard work, and tough on you. However, it’s a really, really important part of the process so that you are happy with the finished book. It also contributes to a happier working atmosphere, as we need to be able to communicate effectively throughout this whole process to create the right outcome for everyone.

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Your Characters

When I am given a brief, I like to almost sleep with it! I read it over and over until I find myself seeing the pictures forming as I am reading. The first, and most important thing of all, is characterisation. If the character is not 100% at the start of a picture book it can throw the whole project out. This is why it’s so important to have the characters clear in your mind when you approach me. On that note…

Approaching Me For Work

Creating a story-book is a very exciting adventure, especially if it’s your first time. It can also be quite daunting, but please don’t worry, I can help you with every step of the way!

A lot of the time, authors come to me with stories that mean so much to them, and I completely appreciate this. Whether the story has a personal connection or it’s an adventure book written on the back of a dream they had, to me, every story is important. It’s very easy for me to just draw anything and hand it over, but I much prefer to work with my customers to make sure they are part of the development process and adventure too. So, if your story is about a family member and needs the characters to reflect this, just send me a photo and I can make that happen. If you have ideas about your characters and book, I’m always happy to work with you to bring those ideas to life.

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I find that keeping things simple is the key to a successful working relationship, and I have set my process out below. 

My Process

    1. Let’s Talk. Firstly, it all begins with a chat about your story. Creating your book, or books, is such a fun adventure, and to ensure that it reaches its maximum potential, it’s vital that I have a good understanding of the story, its characters, its focus; in fact, anything that you think is important. During this conversation, we will also discuss and decide on the style of illustration you would prefer for your project. To help choose this, please visit my “Children’s Book Illustration” page, and check out the five styles I offer. While all of this is achievable via emails, I would much prefer a chat over the phone to help me get a better feel for the project.
    2.  Deposit. Once we have agreed the details of the project, I will send you a formal contract for you to read and sign. This contract will contain our standard terms and conditions, as well as detail the processes that will take place. A week before the start date, the deposit will be due (usually 50% of the agreed fee), and I will issue an invoice for this amount at this time. To help the process begin smoothly, please would you ensure that this amount is paid, by return. Work will commence on the scheduled date providing payment has been received.
    3. Let’s Get Started. Before I begin working on your project, please ensure that I am in receipt of ALL the details regarding your book. To include:- a. A copy of your typed & proof-read story (we will also employ the services of a proof-reader to double-check and carry out any final proofing). b. A descriptive paragraph for the back cover. c. Any dedications for the book (if you wish to have any). This is also the stage to inform me if you have any specific requests regarding your characters. What would also be helpful is a short character bio to help me understand more about them. I also need to know if I have any illustrative restraints, or anything you definitely don’t want. All of this will save us a lot of time at the editing stage! 
    4. Storyboard/Sketch Building. This is the stage where you can check the sketches/rough book template, and make any suggestions. Firstly, I will build a text-based layout to ensure that you are happy with the flow of your story, and, once agreed, I will start to draw. When completed, I will send you a fully sketched draft. It is vital to ensure that the sketches are correct at this point, as illustration changes are unable to be made after this stage free of charge. Please make sure that, at this stage, you are honest with me, and let me know in clear terms what you want to change, if anything, about the sketches.
    5. Illustration Development. The stage that can take the longest time to complete, and also when I get to colour everything! Please bear in mind that this stage usually requires approx.3-4 weeks of work, dependent on the complexity of the illustrations. I will do my best to advise you at the earliest opportunity if your illustrations require longer than this to complete.
    6. Book Generation. The book comes to life as this stage involves importing the images, and begin editing. This will take approx. 1-2 weeks.
    7. Payment/Final Files. Once I have completed the illustrations and compiled the book, before the release of many months of work, the second payment (usually 50% of the agreed fee) will be due. Upon receipt of that payment, I will send you the complete, finished proof. Please understand that this payment is to be received first, as the files I send you will be the completed book, ready for final editing. 
    8. Editing. Once you have received the book and have examined it thoroughly, I will then work with you to edit out any little errors; typos/imperfections etc. These edits are crucial to the finishing of the book, and I always advise you to take your time. Please remember that there are three rounds of edits included in the package pricing, and that any further edits or alterations will be chargeable. 
    9. And to Finish. After completion of the final editing stage, please sign off the project, and upon receipt of which, I will provide you with all the final files. You will then have everything you need: illustrations as separate files, cover images, and the book PDF for print, or printed book if you purchased the Gift Book package. If you need any assistance dealing with your printer, I’m always happy to provide advice as best I can.

If you are happy to go ahead please bear in mind that the whole process can take just over 3 months, depending on the size of the book(s).

And that’s it! For all enquiries check out the services page on my website, or get in touch with me by clicking on the link.

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