Although I digitise illustrations for publication and manufacture, I prefer to work with traditional media. This blog is written from my perspective as an illustrator, using traditional media and how I decide on the mechanics of my picture book illustrations.
Consider: a. What materials you will use for your illustrations? e.g. collage, or watercolour paints on watercolour paper, or soft pastels on sanded paper, etc.
b. What paper do you need? How much will you need? What size should you use? e.g. hot-pressed watercolour paper vs. cold-pressed watercolour paper? Will you use individual sheets, a roll of paper, pads or blocks?
c. How large should the illustrations be? The same size as the printed book, or do you feel you need to work using a larger format that can be scaled down by the layout designer.
d. How many illustrations do you need for the number of pages, and are you illustrating the end papers, title page, etc?
e. How are you going to create the illustrations? Are you using mixed media, and in what order will you use each medium? Are you under-painting your illustrations, or are you using pen and ink drawings with watercolour washes?
f. How will scanning and printing affect your illustrations? Be aware that you may not be able to use a basic scanner, as certain colours are not accurately represented by these. You may need your work to be scanned or photographed by a fine art specialist. Perhaps you are creating 3-D collages. How will you get your work to the publisher?
g. Will your text and images work symbiotically to produce a cohesive and dynamic picture book? Remember, your illustrations should not repeat the text and the words should say what the illustrations cannot. If you are creating a wordless book, your illustrations have to be as readable as text. Just as with text, illustrations should be readable and give background information, and supply what would be adjectives and adverbs in text (illustrate these rather than write them). Aim to create illustrations that would be verbs in the narrative (showing action). If you do this, you will be SHOWING not TELLING.
Join me next month for the fourth part of this blog series: Creating a Picture Book – Part 4 (My Picture Book Preparation). I will discuss all the necessary background work to be done before you create your first illustration.