Date: 12th August
Illustrating a children's book
By Jo Linsdell
Jo Linsdell is the author and illustrator of the rhyming children's picture book OUT AND ABOUT AT THE ZOO. Find out more about her at www.JoLinsdell.com
A lot of people think that making a children's book is easy. They are wrong. Sure the pages are limited in number (standard children's books have 32 pages in total) and the text is limited to the lowest word count possible (this is in fact a skill in itself). Children's books are made to be read a loud and so extra care needs to be given to make sure the text flows correctly. I could go on about why writing for children is not a simple task but instead I'll move on to the hardest part, the illustrations.
I studied art and design in college and so the idea of doing my own illustrations didn't faze me at all. Out and About at the Zoo is designed with preschool children in mind and so the pictures needed to be colourful and bold. Lots of details weren't called for.
It didn't take me long to sketch some ideas to go with the text and I soon had a draft of the book layout planned on paper. All I needed to do now was make them digital and print quality. This is when things got hard.
I'm not an expert on graphics programmes and so did some research into which programmes other illustrators were using. I decided that Adobe illustrator was my best bet as it seemed quite simple to use and had all the functions required. What I hadn't taken into consideration is that I knew nothing about the technical aspects like which colours can be used for print and dealing with transparencies and layers. Luckily for me, a tech savvy friend was on hand to offer advice and assistance. I would have been lost without him.
When creating a children's picture book you need to make the text embedded on the page and flattened the page so it's just one layer otherwise you'll find that your text might not be in the right place or that your illustrations are missing parts when you upload the finished file for printing.
If you want to illustrate your own book make sure you have the technical skills required or you will find the experience quite frustrating. It's not as easy as it might seem.
After my own experience I have an even greater respect for illustrators. It's not just a case of making sure the pictures match the text and 'balance' the book. Illustrations in children's books help tell the story and making sure they are just right is not easy.
I have really enjoyed my first experience as an illustrator and have already started planning another children's picture book. It's been an amazing experience and a huge learning curve.
Have you ever thought of illustrating your own book? I'd love to hear about other people's experiences.