Now, the picture book illustration is at the stage of colour, my most favorite work, even though sometimes not easy and quite demanding.
BTW, you may wonder what sorts of abilities and skills an illustrator needs. OK, in my experience, main essential skills for a children picture book illustrator are
1) Interpretation skills of a text
3) Communication/group work skills,
4) Guts and energy to get through a long term project.
1) Interpretation skills
In interpretation skills, the key point is how uniquely depict a story in an original methods/style with a children-kind way. Information flow is critically important.
Have your vision in these elements :
a) character design, b) setting, c) page structure & book design etc.
A picture book illustrator is much like a film director.
In the portrayal of a story, an illustrator's originality and creativity comes up. A text analysis is a requisite ability, but not enough for interpretation. Based on a text analysis, an illustrator clarifies a theme, highlights a drama and, even, develops a plot. So, interpretation requires deep and broad knowledge in everything. In order to support your text interpretation, data collection is necessary. Good research skills are essential.
Also, a children centralised interpretation is vital. Observe how children respond to varied picture books at a library or else where. Some picture books win kids' hearts. Contrary, others do not please children. For example, look at different children picture books on a same story. Compare them and consider why some are more successful and why others are not. I carefully examine factors in picture books and learn lots. If you illustrate a story, how will you illustrate it in a children and young readers kind way?
In order to express your unique concepts on papers, good drawing skills are indispensable. Illustration bridges between a text and imagination. Studying drawing is never-ending and daily exercise. You know I always sketch and do experiments on streets and in a studio... some of them have come up in this blog!
3) Communication/group work skills
Good communication skills are essential. Creating a picture book is a group work. An illustrator collaborates with an author, an editor, a book designer, sales and marketing staff. Each participant needs patience, energy and time. In the process of illustration, an order of "Change" or "Correct" an image comes up often. So, be open minded and flexible. Respect and thank for each team member. It's crucial to work closely and harmoniously with others.
Now, you need...
4) Guts and energy to get through a long term project
Friends, love a text! Fall in love with a story!
A picture book project takes several months (minimum!) or always a year and often uses years. Sometimes, we feel down and out. A big name illustrator asked me seriously, "Sadami, tell me, how can you always keep yourself high? How could you be so happy to get on the work?"
BECAUSE I love the given text, I can get back to the work with joy.
OK, Friends, like we've chatted above, simply good drawing skills are not enough to be a children picture book illustrator. Must-haves are particularly, unique text understanding ability, deep and broad knowledge, distinguished art skills, practical social skills and enthusiasm.
In addition, many editors are originally from education and linguistics. This is no joke that I've bumped into editors and authors through the network in linguistics and university academia. What a small world! Life long and incessant learning is essential, too.
Thank you for a big response to my last post. It seems you're very interested in the process of illustration a picture book. Although the project occupies me so much, I'd update my news "from time to time," hopefully, Monday. Please stay tuned.
Friends, Happy Painting!!