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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Picture Book Ilustrator's Essential Skills

The picture book illustration is at the stage of "colour", my most favorite work, even though sometimes not easy and quite demanding. The picture book project is ongoing with the publishing team's great support, particularly, Editor and Mentor. 

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
2) Drawing/Art skills, 
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? 



2) Drawing/Art skills
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!! 






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28 comments:

  1. Gran post y fantásticas ilustraciones, Sadami. ¡Se te ve feliz!
    Te felicito. Un abrazo.

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    1. Gracias, Onera! Sí, estoy feliz y disfruta de la ilustración. También tienes una semana maravillosa!!
      Mis mejores deseos, Sadami

      Thank you, Onera! Yes, I'm happy and enjoying illustration. You, too, have a wonderful week!!
      Best wishes, Sadami

      >>>Onera said...
      Great post and great illustrations, Sadami. You look happy!
      I congratulate you. A hug.

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  2. I would add No. 5) to still think like a child - a kind of regular Peter Pan. I am talking about you dear Sadami. You have that little bit of magic.

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    1. Great, Polly and good point! Yes, like you said, I keep my inner child alive. You, too, try illustration. It'll be fun!
      Best wishes, Sadami

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  3. Hi Sadami, hope this finds you well. Love this post and how you have explained the abilities and skills needed as a childrens book illustrator. As always it is so good to see your sketches and paintings.

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    1. Oh, thank you, so caring Ann! I'm learning a lot daily. Editor and Mentor guide me so well. At the moment, the illustration occupies me so much though, I'd post interesting topics and sketches. You, too, enjoy drawing!
      Best wishes, Sadami

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  4. I guess it's like with other professions - there is one essential skill, but it takes much more than that to be really good at what you do. Thank you for the insight into the job of a children books illustrator. It is always interesting to read your posts.
    Happy painting to you too, Sadami!

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    1. Thank you, Blaga, for a thoughtful comment and warm cheers. Yes, like you said, "to learn is one thing and to do is another." I'm RIGHT NOW messing up many A2 Arche papers! (Ouch! Costs me much! BUT it should be the poorest thing, if I do not make a qualified work. So, I HAPPILY waste A2 papers!) You, too, enjoy drawing!!
      Best wishes, Sadami

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  5. So nice of you to share that information with us all. Sadami, you are a wonderful illustrator and now we know better about what it takes to do the work you do. I always learn something when I visit your blog. So, I guess you are a wonderful teacher too.

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    1. Thank you very much, Carol, for encouragements. I hope to be a good illustrator though, it's a long way to go. I hope I can guide others as an assistance rather than a teacher at a workshop.
      Best wishes, Sadami

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  6. Great illustrator, hard working and wonderful person - you have the winning combination :) Wish you continued success with your illustration! I love reading your thoughts, pearls of wisdom.

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    1. Thnak you, Meera! You're the great artist, hard working and wonderful person! Very happy that you enjoyed the post. Oh, the given text is quite challenging. I'm struggling right now. Your warm cheers are a great help. I'll enjoy it!
      Best wishes, Sadami

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  7. Te veo completamente entregada a tu trabajo y disfrutando de el. Un abrazo.

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    1. Dear Tina, un largo camino por recorrer para terminar este proyecto. Editor es muy amable y me da más tiempo para trabajar en la ilustración de mi propio ritmo. Disfrutará de este proyecto de libro ilustrado. También, disfruta de dibujo!
      Mis mejores deseos, Sadami

      Dear Tina, a long way to go to finish up this project. Editor is so kind and gives me more time to work on the illustration on my own pace. I'll enjoy this picture book project. You, too, enjoy drawing!
      Best wishes, Sadami

      >>>Tina said...
      I see you completely delivered to your work and enjoying of the. A hug.

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  8. You have all the elements, Sadami - and a wonderful warm personality too. Wishing you much success xx

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    1. Oh, sweet Pat, you, too, have a wonderful, so caring personality. Not easy, but with your warm cheers, I'm working on the project.
      Love and smile, Sadami

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  9. You have all those and more! Oh I can only imagine all the coloured drafts all around your studio right now, go go Sadami!! <3

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    1. Oh, caring Teresa, thank you!! You've encouraged me so much. Sometimes, I'm lost in difficulty of the project. Yes, right now, my studio is full of A2 roughs, finished colours and attempted works. (*I believe an illustrator needs another talent --"Organise" art messes well!) I'll keep up.
      Kind regards, Sadami

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  10. Dear Sadami:) It seems so simple but it is not! As you already say; It requires perseverance and insight. And coincidentally you have that:):) And you're also a hard worker, so you will certainly succeed dear Sadami. And your work is beautiful. Don't forget yourself! xx

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    1. Dear Renate, Thank you so much! No, not simple at all though, I enjoy this difficult job. Yes, hard work helps me to find a way. Like you said, it's so important to keep myself. You, too, enjoy drawing. Please take care.
      Best wishes, Sadami

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  11. Sorry I am so late in commenting, Sadami! Thank you for sharing your experiences!

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    1. Thank you, Judy, for warm cheers all the time. You, too, please keep up good work.
      Best wishes, Sadami

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  12. you really do have to win kids hearts ! ... love the centre sketch .

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    1. Oh, Jane, thank you~~!! I'm crazy busy with the project. Feedback from Mentor, Editor, then, I work on pages. Change images, rethink pictures etc, etc. Being a picture book illustrator is a hard job! but fun and I love it!!!
      Cheers, Sadami

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  13. Love to hear from you and read about your challenges and progress. Keep painting and go with the flow. You're doing great. Hugs x

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    1. Thank u, Anna! Yes, I'll submit colour currently done TOMORROW. Very busy, but a great joy. I'll get back to the work after this reply. Hugs, Sadami

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  14. Thanks for sharing Sadami, it´s so interresting to get to know a little about your work with this project. I have written a childrensstory with rime myself, but I haven´t come to the picturemaking yet, I probably never will! That´s why I think this is extra interresting for me to read about. Take care Sadami, looking forward to some more soon :)

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    1. Hi, Catherina, Publishing picture books by "publishers" is a sophisticated, very challenging and long process work. If you're really interested in publishing your texts, find publishers that call for texts and submit your work. I heartily wish you good luck. Regarding illustration, Editor is highly skilled to "match" a text and a suitable illustrator. Today, "self-publishing" is more available and accessable for people.
      BTW, I'll submit colour currently done TOMORROW. Very busy, but a great joy. After sending work, I hope I can write a bit more about my work. Kind regards, Sadami

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