I’m interested in book illustration, particularly in illustrating books for children. I like drawing whimsical characters and situations and decorative scenes that i think would suit stories for children. I like perusing children’s stories myself in order to look at how they are illustrated, below are some examples of children’s illustrations that drew me to wanting to look into this career choice:

I have done some research on the internet and found a few articles that have helped me to understand how book illustration works:



this article explains how the publishing cycle works for illustrators and some leading art directors provide some tips on how to get your work noticed, what i found useful from that article was this timeline of how getting jobs tends to go and how they progress from the brief to the finished design:

01. Initial conversation

Once the art director has a project confirmed, they will think about who the best illustrator might be. Both parties will then get in touch for a loose conversation and an exchange of ideas. The art director might ask for some roughs or samples for further discussion.

02. Layouts

Whether the work is either a cover commission or for internal illustrations, a rough layout will be prepared by the book’s designer. This, along with the manuscript, is sent to the illustrator to work from. The author may be given the chance to comment on what they think the artwork should contain.

03. Roughs

For a cover several roughs are usually required and these will be narrowed down and discussions – often quite in-depth – will take place between the art director and the illustrator. There’s usually less discussion about individual internal illustrations; however, there are normally more of them so the roughs stage can be equally intense. A deadline will be agreed for finished work.

04. Final images

When the right approach has been chosen, it’s the illustrator’s chance to shine. The final images must be rendered, taking into account the initial brief and further discussions with the art director about the direction of the piece. Sometimes work-in-progress is sent in for comment and discussion.

05. Submission

Scans of the final artwork are sent in or, as is more common these days, the digital files are submitted. The designer and art director may request amendments, or tweak elements such as colour when they complete the layout of the cover and internal pages.

06. Approval

Good publishers usually send a PDF of the finished book to the illustrator to sign off before going to print. He or she might even be asked to come in and approve physical proofs of the book with the art director and designer. Then it’s time to wait for payment, look for a new brief, and keep an eye out for the book’s appearance on the shelf.

This article below is a career road map to illustrating books for children:


It says to earn a degree and get a good portfolio, get your first job and start trying to build a client base. Truthfully i think this article makes it sound far too easy as if finding your first job will fall into you lap and from there more will follow. I think its a far more inconsistent road where you might end up doing jobs not necessarily in your field to help you get by.  I found a list of tips from existing childrens book illustrators Cherish Flieder and her husband Ben Hummel, who are from Colorado and who started out as Artists who then went on to illustrate a variety of childrens books in the US, i think this is a good reference for me as i come from a Fine Art background.

For artists interested in becoming children’s book illustrators, Cherish offers a few suggestions:

  • Working for free or “on speculation” is not a good idea. A project could be time-consuming, taking a year or more for a book project. Make sure you are getting paid for your time and talents.
  • Develop a solid portfolio with a singular style. Include in your portfolio action illustrations as well as static scenes. It is also important to show character consistency from image to image.
  • Your portfolio must be available on your website, which should be well-constructed and load quickly. The site should be uncluttered and not confusing. Remember, visitors want to get information easily and you only have a brief time to make a good impression and attract interest.
  • A resume or CV and well-written artist statement are important. A link to contact info including phone and email address must be shown on every page.
  • Get involved with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, where you will find vital information on becoming an illustrator and understanding the industry.

I’ve found alot of information on how to become an illustrator specialising in childrens books, the reason I’d like to do childrens books is it would give me an opportunity to create some wonderfully whimsical illustrations and children have the most active imaginations that i’d like to inspire. It does look like a career that is freelance, you find jobs here and there and probably won’t be working 24/7 unless you become very popular. But I’d also like to try writing a childrens book myself, and being able to illustrate it myself would be a great opportunity.

I’ve found some images from existing books, showing the sort of illustrations i’d like to create:

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I’d like to create 3D books with pop ups in them, to take advantage of my fine art background and a preference i have to creating 3D paper works. These covers vary in genre and age group, but i’d primarily like to work in fiction, creating fictional character imagery and book covers.


One thought on “Summer Project- Book Illustration

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