Welcome to the SCBWI-AR Illustration Studio! Here you will find craft and intensive resources for our illustrators that are new to children’s book illustration, or that are exploring ways to grow as an illustrator in this field. This page is still in development, but will continue to expand as new resources are added by our regional members.
If you have any questions or would like to submit a resource for this page, please contact our Illustrator Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, as a member of SCBWI, one of your best resources is THE BOOK.
This online publication contains a wealth of information about children’s publishing, including up-to-date information in the section “Edited By,” which lists editors and what they have recently, and an Agent’s Directory, which lists agents specializing in our field. A detailed guide for illustrators includes topics on portfolio development, books for illustrators, developing a dummy book for picture book submission, and what to do when you’re offered that first illustration book contract.
Developing Your Children’s Book Illustration Portfolio
Whether online or in a printed portfolio book, the illustrations you choose to show reflect the type of children’s book projects you want to develop as a professional children’s book illustrator.
But if you don’t currently have samples of illustrations that target the audience age-group or genre of the work you’d like to do, then you may need to create art that does so by developing a personal project. Some example project topics could include:
• Picture Books for the Nonfiction Market. A chance to share your interest in drawing animals or maybe capturing the likeness of people. To expand on that, explore how would you develop a more narrative approach with animals in their typical activities and habitats, or going further than a portrait of some historical figure by showing them in action during key events in history as well as relevant moments before and after those events.
• Chapter Books for early readers. Decide on a genre (fiction or fairy tale, nonfiction, adventure, STEM, etc.), and then create 3 key characters and the world they live in that fits that genre. Design a story world: create environments, sets, and costumes concepts like you would for a game. Then put it all together in a format that fits a chapter book: develop cover art, spot illustrations for chapter headings, key scenes with your characters in scenes that add to and enhance the story because it’s developed in your style.
• Graphic Novels for Middle Grade. Coming Soon–check back later this week!
• Cover and interior art for Middle Grade. Coming Soon!
• Optional/Related Children’s Book Illustration Markets: Educational /Licensed Characters/Animation. Coming Soon!
Marketing Your Illustration Work with Postcards
Although we’re in a unique time period where many of the typical agents and editors and art directors are currently working from home rather than in a corporate office, postcards developed for print are still a valid tool for marketing your illustration work—they can be easily repurposed for email as well as posting on social media sites.
Some of the elements you may need to review and adjust for a digital or online postcard vs a print postcard include:
• Image size. Standard size posting or viewing of images for one site may be different on another. You’ll want to consider how your use of color and layout in the illustration may or may not display well when viewed as an image on a smart phone or tablet vs a laptop or desktop. Does the image expand when the viewer clicks on it? Or does it go to the next image in your gallery or album?
• Image thumbnail. The preview image of your illustration may be cropped or greatly reduced from the original size. You’ll want to consider how your use of color and layout in the full-size image may or may not display well when viewed as a tiny thumbnail image, whether on a smart phone or tablet, or on a laptop or desktop.
• Image dpi. A good illustration print requires a high resolution to produce a clean, sharp image. For example, an illustration of 8.5 x 11 inches would print best at a resolution of 300 dpi, at actual size. But for use on the internet, you don’t need such a high resolution when the final illustration is ready to post. You can keep the same “ruler size”, but reduce the dpi with Photoshop (or your art software of choice) to 72 dpi. The image will still read well online but loads much faster.
• Contact info. If you don’t have contact info on the illustration you post (not a watermark—that’s a different discussion), how is your favorite art director or editor or agent supposed to get in touch with the artist who created it? One of the pros and cons of posting on social media is how quickly it can go viral…or if not quite that popular, it can still travel all over the world as it gets viewed and shared on other sites, whether or not you ever visit those sites yourself.
Keep it simple: have your name and preferred email or website printed clearly along the bottom or side of the image. It’s not functioning as a watermark, although you may choose to have it as part of your copyright text (for example, ©2020 jane illustrator). You don’t want the text overlaying a key element of your illustration.
Templates: Postcards, Social Media formats (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram). Coming Soon–check back later this week!
Books for Illustrators
Sites for Illustrators to Further Develop Craft
If you have any recommendations from your own illustration experiences and/or would like to submit a resource for this page, please contact our Illustrator Coordinator at email@example.com.