There are many traditional techniques. Sometimes you work with the writer, but many times it's the publisher who chooses the artist. Your first task is to have a body of work that makes you somebody writers & publishers want to use. You need a decent portfolio/body of work demonstrating what you can do. I suggest choosing a few folk or fairy tales & illustrating them.
After that- the client will tell you what they want- yes...there's no way to avoid transferring images. You show them the idea you're leaning towards- they say yes or no. Beyond that- think in terms of the work being scanned- what type of paper you use is totally up to you & whatever technique you choose.
Developing a style takes time...and some artists have a few different styles-Arthur Rackham had a very realistic style, & another style that was similar but far more cartoony. Edmund Dulac had very realistic style, but his later work was quite different- very stylized, more like Indian miniature/Oriental painting. I particularly love the work of a Swedish illustrator- John Bauer. If you're looking for inspiration in traditional styles- Google (images) "The Golden Age of Illustration" (late 1800s-early 1900s).
1. Working traditionally? -- Certainly you can work traditionally as an illustrator for children's books. If you are unable to scan or photograph the final art for the book, you can hire a photographer and/or have the images scanned at a facility that provides those services. If you are working with a publisher, they might request that you mail them the final illustrations and then they will do the photos/scanning of the artwork for the book as everything printed has to be digitized at some point.
2 & 3. What is the process? -- That will depend on your client and the project. Ideally you read the manuscript first, start sketching characters and scenes, plan your layout and work with the editor/client to create a "dummy book" that includes a rough version of the illustrations and the text for each page for the client to review, get suggestions or art changes, etc.. You probably won't submit thumbnail drawings, those are mostly for yourself to help narrow down character and layout choices. Then you send your most promising, your best 3 options maybe for discussion...sometimes what you send will depend on how tight your deadline is. Here's a good example by a children's book illustrator, John Rocco and the art for "Wolf, Wolf" (scroll down): [link]
4. What kinds of watercolor paper? -- Use whatever you prefer, it makes little difference as long as it fits your need and is consistent with the style your client selected for the project illustrations (if you have various styles).
5. Style, one or many? -- if you have a variety of styles, that can work for you and against you. Regardless, you want to be consistent, have the characters and scenes match from page to page if the client selects a preferred style for their project.
If you want to learn the process of children's book illustration for other illustrators, look to see if there's a SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) group in your area -- it's an international group. Also, there are various online resources that can tell you more about the standards that publishers expect. Here's another site that might get you started -- [link]
Thank you for this great answer and the links. I will check them out asap. The thing worries me you said :
"Then you send your most promising, your best 3 options maybe for discussion"
Don they need to be done on wc paper? What if they ask for changes . And then i willnerase or redraw them right? So i will show them the promising drawings which are done on a regular paper first ? And if they are accepted i will redraw them on wc paper (if i dont transfer them)
*i havent watched the videos yet so i dont know if it is mentioned on that link you sent.
Usually the 4 stages are something like this: - multiple thumbnails: this is your ideation stage. You're thinking very roughly, planning, sketches will be very, very rough; stick figures, maybe; and less than 5 inches square, generally speaking. Usually you only see this stage. From those thumbnails, you pick for each page, the ones (usually the top three for each illustration page) that you think are most successful and you'll use those to develop the next step. Black and white only. - rough sketches to send (first round). These will still be rough, but better than stick figures. These rough sketches will be based on the top three choices you made from the thumbnails. --> Still black and white. This is a planning stage and communicates to the art director or client, what you're considering and how you would plan the illustrations, character designs for the book with the text. - clean sketches (b/w), second round. After discussing previous art submission dummy book with art director/editor or client with maybe some initial color studies of how you plan to use color within the entire book (somewhat like how color scripts for animation storyboards are done ). None of this art would be considered final at this stage. - Develop final art. The fourth level. This is where you are doing the final, color watercolors for your project. There should be no surprises at this stage for the client. They already have a very good idea of what the characters will look like, how each illustration will be for each page (or per 2-page spread). And a general idea of what colors you will be working with for each illustration.
That's why a traditional illustrator may take up to two years to do a picture book for kids (juggling a few other projects at the same time) when you factor in the above steps and the time it takes for approvals and discussion of a 32-page picture book. Artist P.J. Lynch paints traditionally and that's about how long he's explained it takes for a book project: [link]
let me ask you one moer question. At the clean sketches step, if the publisher offered some changes, will i erase and draw again on the same paper or is it better to draw on a new paper? but this way i need to transfer the -not gonna be changed- things right?
This really helped me. Thank you so much for giving your time and explaining me all of these i really appreciate that. And to be honest you let me think about switching to digital illustration for a second )) haha
Also, check out blogs by children's book illustrators like Tony DiTerlizzi (Spiderwick Chronicles, WondLa trilogy); he has several posts about his illustration process with images posted (he does some work traditionally still) from rough sketches to final art: [link]
I think the process is different depending on your client. I've done over a dozen children's book projects, but mine have all been with self-published books, either contracting through the author directly or working with a self-publishing company.
When I work with the self-publishing company, they send me the manuscript and a series of illustration descriptions from the author. I do preliminary sketches of each illustration, scan them and send them in. Then the art director sends those sketches to the author, who either approves them or asks for revisions. Then I do the revisions, send them back, etc. Once the drawings are fully approved, I go ahead and ink the drawings. The company I work with does the colors for the illustrations with in-house staff, so the inks are the final step for me.
Sometimes, however, I do the full children's book, color included. In that case the process is similar-- I send my drawings to the author or client at each stage (sketch, revisions, inks, final colors) and get their input.
If you work for a professional publisher, however, things will likely be different. You'll work with an art director, and in that case the author probably will get no input at all. You'll talk with the art director about character design and color schemes, and probably do a storyboard layout of the whole book before you do individual sketches. Then you'll have probably several rounds of revisions, and then the art director may ask for color studies or color sketches of each piece before you do final art. It depends on how familiar the art director is with your work and what their process is.
I do most of my children's book work digitally, just because it's more convenient than scanning things in every time a change needs to be made. If you want to work traditionally throughout, I think the best route would be to do your sketches and revisions on normal paper, and then once the images are approved, transfer that image to your watercolor paper, either with a lightbox or a projector or something else. But you don't want to have to keep erasing on watercolor paper, as it will smudge and your pencils will probably show through in the final art. Generally you want your watercolor paper as clean as possible before you start, and that means using a lightbox. Sorry. If you can find a better method, by all means do what works for you.
As far as paper goes. You might want to use "hot press" paper instead of "cold press." Hot press paper is much smoother and is easier to draw on. There's no difference in quality, it's just a personal preference.
Don't worry about style too much, style will develop over time as you progress in your art. You may develop multiple styles. It just depends on how you work. You might do different variations on a character when determining what style a book project will be in, or the art director might say "I like the look of X painting you did, can we do the book in that style?" You won't know until you get involved in the project.
Thank you so much for this very informative answer. About the inking part, do you ink over the initial sketches ? Or did i understand it wrong because ypu said you work digitaly.
Yes i want to work traditionaly. I had asked an illustrator if she transfer the sketches and she said she did not like transfering but i did not ask how she gets the final illustrations :/ without a light box, can not i illustrate a book? I can't afford one . What is more i dont have any space to put it in my house.
I do most of my children's book work digitally for convenience. However, when I do watercolor, I usually do the sketch in pencil, ink over that, then use an eraser to clean off the pencil lines before I paint. I work in a very cartoony style, though-- many people simply sketch lightly and then paint the watercolor over that with no ink.
It depends on how messy/heavy your sketch lines are. If you sketch very lightly, maybe you can sketch directly onto the watercolor paper with no problems. Otherwise, you might want to do the original sketch and then transfer.
If you don't have a lightbox, you have a few options. The easiest way is to simply use a window instead! Tape your sketch to a sunny window, then tape your good paper over the sketch. The lines will show through and you can transfer the drawing. You can also use charcoal or graphite sticks on the back of your original sketch paper. Then you put the sketch paper on top of the watercolor paper, retrace your sketch lines, and the image will transfer. You can also look to see if you can find carbon paper.
Hey those are really great ideas. So the sketches i will shot to the client will be the exact , clear drawings on watercolor paper? I am asking this ,because i may come up with different scene or character design ideas and may want to sketch them without worrying too much about the lines etc. To be approved ?(i mean not on the wc paper. Otherwise i would be wasting wc papers)
Right. The idea is, you do your initial sketch and character design on any cheap paper. Then you would talk to the client, change any designs or fix mistakes on that paper. Once everything is finalized, you transfer the clean, finished drawing to watercolor paper and work on the finished art. Watercolor paper is expensive, so you definitely don't want to waste it if you don't have to.
I have already thanked you but now i have another question. Do the size of paper for the sketch or initial ideas to be shown to the publisher matter? And then the size of the watercolor paper? I also read that a lot of illustrators use transparent copying papers to arrange the composition. How do they do that? thanks
I think it just depends on what size you like to work at. The publisher will probably determine the size of the book. Generally the finished pieces will be done at 2-3 times larger than the final size, just because the art reproduces better that way.
As far as arranging the composition, think of it like you would do digitally. An illustrator might draw multiple figures on different sheets of tracing paper, then move them around to get the positions right. It's basically the same as having everything on different Photoshop layers. Then you'd tape all the tracing paper down and put another sheet on top to copy the final artwork onto. (This would again involve a lightbox/window).