Leverage for making books for kids: tips and things to ponder.

I attended an SCBWI event recently where Antoinette Portisgave highly useful presentations to add leverage and juice to illustrating for children's books.

I wanted to share some of the ideas here, since I find there is information out there about illustrating for kids books, but it's rare to find info as thoughtful as what I heard at this past event.

  • Once you have birthed the idea, you are to serve it like a devoted lover! Do what you can to make choices that best deliver the idea/message/feelings you want you send out. Don't hold onto anything. If you want to create art for means of self expression, do this with another project.
  • Ask the question, "What is the best character for the story you are illustrating?".
  • Do you know your character well? What are their dreams, dislikes, doubts?
  • Play to your own strengths and illustrate texts that are a match for you!
  • Do a turnaround or model sheet so you can reference your character and stay consistent.
  • Think about book size. Size can add irony or emphasis to your illustration and theme.
  • Allow themes, motif, and metaphore, as in literature, to be told through the artwork. Antoinette does an amazing job with this one! She used reoccuring elements through the book to forshadow things to come!
  • Work out your ideas in the thumbnail stage. This is where you get the kinks out, make discoveries, and ask all the questions. Don't skip this and go into final art!
  • Consider the white space and the gutter. How can they be a presence? How can they can a valuable element within your illustration and design?

I hope these tips are useful for you! I found them enlightening, and I'm going to reference them as I work through some new ideas. It's so easy to get caught up in the drawing-- "does this look good enough? Is this hand right?" and forget that it really are the ideas that count.

Some of Antoinette's books are:


The book, Wait, especially made me teary eyed! **

Happy art making!

Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.