A typical layout for a picture book (ages 2-6) is 32 pages. Thirty-two pages will be the total length of the book, but your story can only have 24 pages. The other 8 will be used for the book ends, title and copyright. With 24 pages for your story, you can have 12 two-page spreads (the left and right page opened), 24 individual pages or a combination as long as the story fits on a total of 24 pages. In the example I am using today, Klara The Cow Who Knows How To Bow has less than 250 words.
STEP 1: In order to illustrate a children’s book, you first need to have the story written. The creative direction you provide to an illustrator will be inspired by the written words, this is done by creating a story board.
STEP 2: Either you can start drawing your illustrations or you need to find an illustrator to help you make your story come to life. For the purpose of this example, we will assume that you need the help of an illustrator/artist. How does one find an illustrator? There are many websites that offer these services, like Fiverr.com, Upwork.com, DesignCrowd.com, Freelancer.com and more. The one I have had the most luck with is Fiverr.com.
STEP 3: You audition several illustrators by posting a job on one or more of these websites. The ad would be something like this, “I have written a book about a cow, her name is Klara. She is a young cow and has eyes, the colour of corn. Please create a cow character for my 24 page illustrated children’s picture book. Let me know if you have any questions.”
You will pay for the illustration samples whether you use them or not. When I posted this add back in early 2015, these are the two sample illustrations I received back from two different illustrators on Fiverr.com.
It was immediately clear to me which illustrator I was going to work with. Once you have chosen your illustrator, the next step is to send the story board with creative direction for each page. I have created a standard template that I use for this process.
STEP 4: Provide story board with creative direction and the story. Let’s start with a simple example. This is the text for the first two pages.
In a pasture so green,
was a sight to be seen.
A calf was just born,
with eyes the colour of corn.
Creative Direction to Illustrator
Two-page Illustration. Left page 4 – Right page 5
Illustration: A barn with a green pasture (page 4 left) with Klara being born with her mum giving her love (page 5 right). Klara’s eyes need to be the colour of corn. Her eyes are special.
The first result is always a black and white sketch. This enables the author and the illustrator to ensure they are in sync and come to an agreement before colouring. This was the first sketch. How exciting!
STEP 5: Provide feedback to your illustrator on the sketch. My feedback was, “we need to see Klara’s beautiful eyes, the colour of corn. Since this was the only change, the illustrator makes the suggested changes and provides the colour version.
One thing to note; you can have the illustrator add the words to each illustration or you can add them yourself later in the set-up phase for publishing. Since Klara was being translated into 10 languages, I decided to add the text myself. This collaboration process continues until you have 12 double page illustrations, 24 single page illustrations or a combination.
STEP 6: Once the illustrations are done, the book needs to be set-up for publishing. At this point, the illustrator will need to create a single page by cutting the two-page illustrations in half like this.
That my friends, is the short version of How To Illustrate A Children’s Picture Book! I won’t go into the details about how everything is set-up for publishing, but it is important to mention that this particular book is 8.5 x 8.5 inches square, but the size of the illustrations are 8.75 x 8.75 to allow for (full page bleed) printing and trimming the final product. It is important to understand the publishing requirements, when you have written the manuscript and start creating your story board.
My first self-publishing book project, Klara The Cow Who Knows How To Bow took approximately 90 days to complete the illustrations and another week or so to publish. #itsakoolworld
Kimberley grew-up as a third culture kid; born in the UK, and then living in Africa, America, New Zealand, several European countries and currently residing in Hong Kong. She is on a journey to educate and entertain our children and youth about the Kool world we live in through her books, audio books, sing-a-long books, videos and fun puppets. Please join her on this edutainment adventure!