How to be a Children's Book Illustrator | Dave Reed | Skillshare

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How to be a Children's Book Illustrator

teacher avatar Dave Reed, Children's Book Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (1h 51m)
    • 1. Intro: How to Be a Children's Book Illustrator

    • 2. Class Project

    • 3. Why You?

    • 4. NDA's & Contracts

    • 5. Part II: Money

    • 6. The Process: What to do First

    • 7. Backgrounds, References, & Consistency

    • 8. Client Changes and Adjustments

    • 9. Common Issues & Extra Tips

    • 10. Delivering Files

    • 11. Last but not Least

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About This Class

Unless you know someone in the business, it’s hard to even know where to start! This was me. I was in your shoes a few years ago. I graduated from SVA (School of Visual Arts in NYC) almost 20 years ago and decided to go back and take a children’s book illustration class in 2016.  I started my first book in that class and completed it two years later. I’ve been hired for about 6 book projects since then. There is so much more than just creating great illustrations and in this class I'll walk you through pretty much everything from top to bottom. I’ve even included my personal contract for you to use if needed. This class isn’t for everyone, but for those few who are serious about jumping into the world of children’s book illustration, this class is for you. 

What you'll Learn: 

How to break down a story into visual ideas  / Creating a Dummy Book

The value of your art style and what you can bring to the project

How to use the provided contract (And breakdown of the contract)

What to do if you receive an NDA

How much you should charge for your work

Tips on creating artwork, backgrounds, and using references

Tips for dealing with getting stuck, frustration, and avoiding art burn out

Communicating with the clients and client changes

Common issues and struggles i've dealt with so you hopefully won't have to!

How to present your work to the client / best ways to deliver finals

Dealing with Imposter syndrome / ways to stay motivated

How to choose the right project, and knowing when to say NO. 

Lots of tips and examples from my own projects along the way!

Meet Your Teacher

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Dave Reed

Children's Book Illustrator


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1. Intro: How to Be a Children's Book Illustrator: Hey guys, Welcome to my class, how to be a children's book Illustrator. Now, this class will specifically touch on being an illustrator in 2021, moving forward the digital age, all that good stuff. But if you do work traditionally, a lot of things that I'm going to go over are going to apply to you as well. My name is Dave Reed I live in Brooklyn, New York. You've probably seen my work on Instagram. I've been drawing for over 30 years. The last five or six years I've been focusing on children's book illustration. I've done about five or six books, and I'm really proud of each and every one of them. It's really a joy to be a part of a project, of a team to get a book made. Now it's not easy, it takes a lot of work, but we're going to take it one step at a time. I'm going to go over the medium, your style, payment, contract, communicating with the client, and everything in between. There's going to be a lot of information in this class. There's always a lot of confusion and there's a lot of things that I see people wondering about and wanting to know about. It can be very intimidating. Basically, I'm here to walk you through a little bit of my journey. The problems I've had, the successes I've had, and then hopefully you'll learn from my mistakes. Hopefully, you'll also learn from the things that I think work really well, and have really helped my career, including social media and then just getting the work in the first place. Because I know that's half the battle is just to get the work in the first place. Also, another important thing that I'm going to go over in this video is sorting the layout, the formula of how I go from a manuscript to working out the shots of what I want to draw in my head. I always call them shots, I think of them as movie shots. How to work those out, and how to keep that dynamic. The sketch process, the coloring process, going back and forth with the client. That's a big part of children's book illustration. unless you're the author-illustrator you're going to have to go back and forth with the client. You're going to have to make changes. All of these little details are the things that you fall into once you get the job. I'm going to tell you all about it, I'm going to make sure that when you get your first job, you're going to be comfortable, and you're going to pretty much know what you're in for, what you're getting into so you can knock it out of the park. I'm very out of breath from that intro. Hopefully, it sounds like something that you'll be interested in. Especially if you want to be a children's book illustrator, I think you'll get a lot of great information from these videos. I'll see you in the next video. 2. Class Project: Guys, welcome to video Number 2, the class project. Obviously, creating a whole children's book, that'll be a very, very difficult class project, but it's something that you should consider in the long run if you really want to do it. That's not going to be the class project, but maybe make a dummy book. You probably don't know what a dummy book is. Basically that's when you maybe should write a small story or come up with a small story, and come up with the sketches for that story. Basically it's what the book would look like, only in sketches. This class project is going to be very different because it's a long-term project. I mentioned a dummy book. All that is, is a very rough sketch of a story. Since I'm talking about dummy books, we obviously have to start at the story. If you want to make a dummy book, you need to have a story. You just want a very simple story. It doesn't have to be the traditional amount of pages 32, 24, just make a nice simple story and write it down. You can write it on your phone, you can jot it down on pencil and paper. This is what I use if I'm home. I use a little notebook like this and I just jot down things that might be a good story. This is a story that I jotted down and I made a little thumbnail drawings. It'll never come to fruition but you have to put a lot of stuff out there. Just like when you're sketching, you have to put a lot of sketches out there, try different things out. Maybe things work out, maybe they don't, you move on to something else. The first things first, you want to have a story. Make a nice, little, cute, sweet story, even if it's only a few pages, that's fine. Just to get a feel of the process. When I get my stories, I print them out. I always do that with client work. For example, this is one story that I illustrated. Soon as I got the breakdown of the manuscript, I write everything out, I write down my little notes, I read it, and I make it very short, and very sweet so that I can think about illustrations. Even something that I might want in the book, I think about, I'll just jot it down if it's simple. Essentially I'll read the story or read the manuscript, figure out how many pages that I need or how many pages the client wants, and then I'll make the pages in little thumbnails. You read through the story, you put your notes, this whole paragraph I turned into playful outside basketball. Three key words. That will get me thinking of what I want to draw. It doesn't matter how long the story is. This story is very, very long. But I did the very same thing. I read the whole story, I make my notes. This is a note on the character, the two characters, silver ski suit, bright yellow boots. All you're doing is reading through the story and writing notes, and making everything simple. You can't really illustrate the whole story, you have to take little snippets and put them together, and just break them down into key words that are very visual. Just keep that in mind. Print your story out, and then just break it down and make it as simple as can be because your visuals are only going to be a very small part of the story. But obviously they have to tell a lot of the story. First things first, make your story and then you can start thinking about your sketches. This is actually from 2016. This is when I made my own book. This was a printout that I got in school and it just runs down the traditional amount of pages, 32 pages, all of these little squares. Something like this is great. You can draw your own or you can just make boxes. It doesn't have to be this perfect. Once you have your story, you can plug in each little sketch. Wherever you want to sketch, you can just plug it in. Very rough, very quick, just to give you an idea of what you want to do. This is almost the basics of a dummy book. When you really break it down, it's really not that difficult, it's just taking the time to break a story down until its simplest form, and then sketching out. Just write each page, Page 1, little sketch of whatever it is, Page 2, Page 3, and onward. This is an example of my sketch sheets. When I was coming up with the different characters, I just make pages and just figure out what I want the characters to look like. This is the fun part of it. The character design, this is the part that I love. Just come up with your characters and make them as simple as you want them to be. Obviously, you don't have to try to copy my style or copy anyone's style, just come up with the characters, draw it a bunch of different styles. Whatever one looks the best and is easiest for you to draw, that's the one you'll gravitate to. These are just some printouts of the different scenarios in my head. For me, instead of doing the little small boxes and putting the sketches in, sometimes I just made big sketches on my iPad. It's the same thing. Sometimes it's just easier for me to work bigger. This is actually my dummy book. I did this for class. Since it was for class, I made it really big. I just printed everything out. That's the beauty of doing everything on digital. You can just print everything out and you can draw everything big. Essentially, this was my story. I wrote it here on the pages and then I just sketched out the characters. Some I colored in. As you can see, this is a very early versions of the characters. They look much better than that when the book was done. I taped everything together so it would open like a book. Here you have these two pages, this flips. This is the back of that page and I have the writing and then I have the sketch. This is the next page, and then I have it taped together. I'll flip that. Essentially as you can see, I've made a little book with my really rough sketches. I wrote in what's going to be on the page and I wrote it in on the printout of the sketch. All I did was tape it together. It's essentially the book. This is a dummy book. It doesn't have to be printed out of a computer. You can take whatever paper you have and just write the page numbers on there, figure out how many images you want and then just doodle, just sketch right on the page. I have my writing here. This is so helpful because this helps you see what the book is going to look like. We've all seen children's book, we know what a book looks like, we know that you flip a page and there's something on the back of that page. That's all this is. Mine is just really big. I think this was supposed to be the cover maybe. Then actually this was the older title. I can't say it enough. Definitely make one of these. It's going to be the most helpful thing and it's going to really boost you into doing what you want to do. I'll keep repeating it because I guarantee that it will help you a lot. Although that's not technically the class project, because I'm not going to ask that much of you guys. I know that I won't get a lot of that many uploads for this class. But if you do make a story or make a sketch, please upload it. I don't want it to be intimidating because it's not, it just takes time. That's a dummy book. Now we know what a dummy book is, we know what the first few steps are, make a story and then start sketching out a dummy book, figure out your characters. I think that that's a good place to start. Obviously, you can go further because once you have your dummy book, then you can color the illustrations in, and that's pretty much your book once you get to that point. There's going to be a lot of cleaning up and things like that. But once you get the sketches and the dummy book done, that's the book of your work. That's why I'm stressing it as much as I am because it's a huge help. Let's get back to the talking head. The talking head is me when I'm talking to you like I'm about to. The reason why I did that. The reason why I wanted to author, illustrate my first children's book is because I wanted to get a feel for the whole process. I wanted to get a feel for what a client is going to need in an illustrator. I also wanted to get a feel for what an illustrator needs in an illustrator. I wanted to take on that role of being both and going through the process from start to finish. I did get help. I went to School of Visual Arts in New York City, I graduated eons ago, but I took a continuing education class in 2016 because I knew I wanted to do this book, so I took a children's illustration class. I love my school. They have the greatest teachers, the greatest artists. I got a lot of help there and I'm going to use a lot of the things that I learned in class to help you out because that's what it is. That's what we do. Again, this will probably be one of the most beneficial things that you can do is create your own book. Take the time to really make a cute story, very short, very sweet, and then design the book, create the book, illustrate the book. Do all of those steps, that way you'll know what it takes to really go from start to finish. That's the only way that you really gauge if this is something that you want to do, if this is something that you're ready to do, and prepared to do for other people, for money. That's just a very important step that it really helped me a lot, and I know that it will really help you a lot if you take the time to invest in yourself. You'll have something to show. You'll have a physical book at the end of it and you can say, look, this is what I can do. That's big because then you have something that's proving that you are in fact a children's book illustrator because you have a children's book and you've illustrated it. Maybe you'll be a great writer too, you never know. I think that's it for the class project. Take notes if you want. At the end, I think I'll try to recap everything, but it'll really be better if you just take notes and try to jot things down. But of course you can always come back and re-watch these videos as well. Let's move on to video number 3. Why choose you? Why should anyone choose you? Why are they going to choose you for your illustrations? I'm going to go deeper into that and we'll talk more about that in video number 3. I'll see you there. 3. Why You?: Why you? Why should anyone hire you? Why should anyone pay money for your work, for you to do work for them, for your art? Why you? It's a tough question. It's something that I've always struggled with, and I'm sure most other artists consistently struggle with. It's really hard to gauge how much your time is worth, how much your work is worth. It's really subjective. It's understandable that a lot of people undervalue themselves and undervalue their work. I see it a lot in the Facebook groups. I just see it a lot in general. It also depends on where you're watching this, where you live. There's a lot of differences in what people will pay depending on what part of the world you are at. Of course, what I'm saying, you have to take that into account. Take into account your market, what you can make, what you can be paid. You have to have value in your work. You also have to produce good work. You have to put the years in of practice of really being able to produce a great product. In the end, that's what it's all about. Producing a great product. Personally for me, the iPad and Procreate really changed the game for me. Now I work only in digital. When I'm speaking to clients, I make sure that they know, first and foremost, I only work in digital. I tell them that the files will be delivered as digital files in whatever file types are available, like JPEG, TIFF, PDF, PNG. But I make sure to let the client know that the files will be digital. You don't want to leave anything up in the air because sometimes the clients don't know what's going on. They don't know what you're going to do, what you're going to produce. They might just like your work, so it's important to let them know the medium that you're going to use and how the files are going to be delivered. It's very important. Another thing that's really important is figuring out what you want to do for the project. It sounds like a silly question but if you're an Illustrator, make sure that they know that all you're going to provide are the illustrations. There's a lot of beginner authors that are looking for Illustrators, but they don't realize that they're going to need a book designer as well. Book design is completely different than illustrating for a children's book. It's a whole another skill set. It's a whole another someone's job that they can do well. If you don't do it, if you don't know how to do it, if you don't have the applications, it's not going to be done well. Just make sure that they know that you're the Illustrator. That you're going to be illustrating the illustrations for the job. They might want to do the book design themselves. They might want to do it on Blurb, Amazon, things like that. But you have to specify what you're going do. For me, I make sure that they know just illustrations. I don't do the book design because that's a hustle. I could probably figure it out, but it's not worth my time and it's not what I want to do. It's not where my talents lie. Just make sure that they know exactly what you're going to do for the project. It's very important. Some other important things that you're going to want to have a really tight handle on is the style. You don't want them to have to guess what style you're going to do the artwork in. This might happen if they ask you for a sample of your work. Number 1, always get paid for the sample. Always get paid upfront for the sample. Always. If they want to see something specific, then you're working and you don't want to work for free. Don't ever let anyone have you or make you do any sort of work for free. Always get the money upfront, that way you'll enjoy doing it. Once you already have the money, you don't have to worry about them not paying you, or paying you half or something like that. Then you can just concentrate on the art. That's a very important thing. Don't work for free, because it's not worth it to work for free. A 100 percent of the time, it's never worth it to work for free. Have a body of work that reflects the type of work that you want to do, the type of work that you can do in a timely fashion. All of that has to come together. That brings me around to social media. For me, my Instagram has all cute animals. That's the kind of artwork that I love to do, and that's the kind of artwork that I bring over into the children's book illustration. That's my body of work. The body of work is really important because that shows the client that this is your style. This is what they can expect. I like everything that I'm seeing. Then they'll be excited for the work that you're going to create for them. It's really important to just have a body of work that you really enjoy making that you can duplicate over and over again because that's what they're paying you for. That's what they want to buy, is what you do. Just make sure that you enjoy it. Because if you have a style that's really difficult or you're learning to do, you don't want to enter into a project and then have to work all that out yourself and create a product that the client will be happy with. It's just going to be way more painful. Figure out your style. You don't have to search for a style like a Disney style or whatever style. Just do the artwork that works best for you. Again, if you do a dummy book, if you do sketches, you'll figure out your style pretty quickly. Because once you make a little story and you have to come up with the illustrations for that story, and you had to come up with five or six or 10 of them, then you're going to figure out what type of art works best and what type of art you lean towards. Again, do a dummy book. It'll help you out on many different levels. Now I want to talk a little bit about communicating with clients. This is something that I'm not so great at on my end. I'm not too awkward with clients. I communicate with my clients just fine, but I don't tend to really enjoy it. I'm a bit of a hermit. I don't really like talking on the phone. I don't really like doing Zoom meetings, but sometimes I got to do what I have to do. I really don't like Zoom meetings. I really don't. But let me tell you why. The thing about a Zoom meeting is it's great for the client and I can I get it, and that's why I do it. I understand that it's just part of the game. For you, it might be part of the game as well, talking on the phone and Zoom calls. But for me, as the artist, I'm processing what they're saying, and I'm thinking about it. I might want to take notes. I'm not going to remember everything that they're saying because they can say, "Oh, I want to have this, this, and this in this style, in this shape." I'm going to be processing all of that. This is where all the ideas happen. I'm processing it, but then it keeps going. The client may just be able to riff and go on to a bunch of different things, and that will be hard for me to retain what's happening or what the most current thing is that I'm supposed to be remembering. I usually don't take notes when I'm at a Zoom meeting because I like to stay focused and just connect with the client. I think that's more important, is just that connection, building up that trust where you're speaking, you're talking about whatever they're saying and they're talking about whatever you're saying. That's important. That's the communication part. One thing that I always do is at the end of the Zoom meeting, I just ask them, I say, "Can you please send me an email with some of the things that you went over in this discussion just so I have something to refer back to?" That puts the ball in their hands so they'll send you an email with their thoughts. Because sometimes someone has thoughts in their head and they're just riffing and say, "Oh yeah. I like this and I want this and I like this." But they don't really focus and narrow anything down, and that doesn't help the artist. I say send me an email, then they craft an email. Then they can say, "I like this," and they are like "No. I really don't want that." Then they'll change it. That way you'll have something nailed down that you can go off of. I think that's a very important step that I had to learn to do. It really helps to have something in writing because more than likely, you're not going to remember everything that someone's saying to you on the phone or on a Zoom call. It's just not possible, especially if you're like me, because I'm a scatterbrain. If I get excited about a project, my brain's going a million different places at once. Definitely make sure that they send you a breakdown of what they're looking for. On another note, try to get everything in these emails, everything in the correspondence. That way you'll always be able to go back to it. Don't rely on your memory for things, get them in writing, always. Just any ideas. Even if you have ideas or something, write them down because we all forget, we're all human. Another thing about children's book illustration is understanding the volume of work that's involved. It's a lot. It's really a lot of work and you just have to be conscious of it going into it. They'll eventually give you a story. You might have to sign an NDA. We'll talk more about that later. But they might give you a story and you have to read that story and envision all of the visuals in your head and figure out what you want to sketch. Sometimes books are 12 pages, 24 pages, 32 or 36 pages. There's all these different specs. Honestly, I don't know the actual technical specs of how many pages a book should be and all that stuff. That kind of stuff you can look up online but also I just feel like it's up to the author. They could just do a really short book. They could do a little bit of a longer book. Authors can pretty much do what they want. There's some things that they have to stick to. There's some certain aspects that are very traditional, but then there's a lot of aspects that aren't traditional. I forgot how I got off on this tangent. What was I talking about? Just know that the reason why a lot of Illustrators charge a lot of money, it's because it takes a lot of time. For me, probably what takes the most time is coming up with the sketches. Not even the coloring and that part of the illustration, it's coming up with the sketches. That's what's most important. The sketches is the book. That's the art right there. That's where your brilliance is going to shine through, in those sketches. I like to think of it as a movie, beautiful movie scenes, movie images. That's how I think about a book. Every scene is like a shot. Every illustration I'm thinking, where do I want the camera? Do I want to show a little bit of the character's head? Do I want to show it from a bird's eye view, worm's eye view? Do I want to make it really in your face or is it a big landscape? There's lots of variations that will help your book be more dynamic. But all of this takes time. All of this takes energy. This is why you shouldn't cheat yourself and not get paid what you should be getting paid because this is going to be a lot of time. It's a lot of work. As long as you know that going into it, as long as you embrace that and say, I like these people, I like these clients and I have the time to devote to make this the best illustrated story I can make, then you're on the right path. That's enough of that. Let's move on to the really fun stuff. It's not fun at all. Video number 4 is going to be contracts and, is it money to? How much to charge contracts. All the stuff that I don't really love to do, but we just have to do it. I'm going to give you my contract so that you can use it if you want. You can change it, you can alter it. It works for me. It's clear. I understand it. The clients that I've worked with seem to understand it. Yes. We're going to go over that and talk more about that in video number 4. I will see you there. 4. NDA's & Contracts: Welcome to video Number 4. This is all about contracts, and money, NDAs, all of that really annoying stuff that we just have to deal with. It's part of the deal. If you want to do children's books, if you want to be freelance, then you're going to want to have to get at least a little bit of a handle on these things because it'll make your life a lot easier. If you're talking to an author, and they send you their story, they might send you an NDA, and you'll have to sign that NDA. That means you can't post it on Instagram, you can't keep it for yourself or give it to anyone else, they're entrusting this with you. This is just to protect themselves from someone who might want to steal their project. I get them a lot when I get a manuscript. When I do work in film, and TV, I sign NDAs. Nothing scary, nothing to be afraid of. If you do have to sign one before you read someone's story, just sign, and send it back to them. Not a big deal. Just don't post it to social media or anything like that. Contracts, the big one. I'm going to try not to get too much in the weeds on contracts because they can be very confusing. I'm just going to give you mine. What I did with mine is I downloaded a bunch of contracts from the Internet, mashed them together, and made it work for me. You can do the same with my contract. Just take out what you think you don't need. You can add in things that you think you might need to add. Again, I'm not a lawyer so I can't say that it's the best contract in the world, but it works for me. It's worked for me for the last four or five years, and I'm happy with it, and I'm confident in it because I can understand it. If you can get a lawyer to do a contract, then good for you but I'm definitely not going to pay a lawyer to do my contracts. I have great relationships with my clients. I trust them to a certain extent. A lot of times I think of it as a way to just know exactly what's expected of them, and exactly what's expected of you. It's actually very useful. I don't see a contract as this negative thing. You just use it to have parameters, to set parameters. You make sure that whatever you want out of the book, the story, the monetary value, lots of different things like that and you might want things that are different than me so just change the contract. Do some googling to figure out something that might work better for you, and add it in. That's pro-activity that I've had to do on my journey because I've had no one to help me. All I've had is the Internet. I've done a lot of research on contracts and the one that I have, I like a lot. I still currently use it. I'm more than happy for you guys to use it, and just not have that hurdle of having to figure out how to obtain a contract. I think it's a pretty good contract. I'm going to put up on the screen, in my contract, and I'm going through line by line, and tell you why certain things are there and what they mean. I'll do that now. I'm here with the contract that I'm going to include in this class. I hope that you guys will look it over, do your own research, and if you need one, if you don't have one, at least you can use this. I'll upload it as a PDF, and also a Word document or a Google document. That way you can edit it. I just want to make sure that you can edit the document. If anyone has any issues, just reach out to me. We'll come up with a way that you can edit it to add your name, and things like that. Let's get started. Illustrator agreement is a contract, and this is mine, as I said. This contract is an agreement between Dave Reed, the artist, and this will be the client's signature or the client's name. I have in parentheses the client made on, and whatever the date is. The client would sign here, and then either I or the client would add the date that they're working on this illustrator agreement. For the artist to provide creative work as described below. Number 1, work. The client retains the artist to create. All that means is that the client is paying the artist to create. This is whatever the work is. If I'm working on a children's book, I would say, children's book, maybe the title or whatever it is. I've done extra work for a children's book that I finished, and then I have supplementary work, and I'll just write whatever that is. Whatever you're doing for the client, that's the work. The work includes 10 images, three-character sketches, and one rainbow. It can be anything. This is essentially just a breakdown of what you're actually drawing. In this, I usually have the number of illustrations the client wants me to have like for a book it would be 18. My last book was about 18,19 images. Nineteen color images, and then I would include the sketches from the work, and any extras. Whatever I want to include in there, whatever we come to an agreement with, that's all the work is. Remember, this is all just to make it clear so both parties know what's expected of them. Number 2, price, and delivery. The non-refundable flat fee for the work is, and this is however much you guys decide. When I'm doing children's books, those are usually a lot of money. The way that I'll do that is, if we break it down into four payments, five payments, I'll just put four times $500. You know what I mean? Four installments of $500. Whatever it is. Payment must be made in full before any work begins. This is something that I talk to the client beforehand. We already come up with a plan. Either I'll change this or I'll just write whatever the payment plan is that we come up with. I don't always need all of the money before the work begins. A book is a long project. It can sometimes be 3,000, $5,000. It's easier to work in chunks. Before I start work, I'll get my first payment, let's say that's $500. That would be just about three images. Maybe a little bit more than $500 would be three images for me. I'll get that first payment and then I'll start working. Payment should be made in the method and manner specified by the artist. Usually, here I'll just put PayPal. That's usually the way that a client pays. It can be PayPal, it can be Zelle, which is through Chase, it could be Venmo. It's really important to just have some of these online accounts to collect money because they're very easy, they're very convenient, and they're trusted versus sending a check or something like that which then you have to cash, and you have to wait for it in the mail. You want to make everything as easy as possible. I recommend if not Venmo, then I recommend PayPal. You can just go to, log in or sign up. If you don't have an account, you can sign up, and then it'll take you through everything. You can connect a bank account, connect your card, and you can receive money that way. PayPal is really trusted. I would say that that's a safe way to go. You can trust PayPal with your information. At least I do. I've been using PayPal for years, and years. I haven't had an issue. As long as you sign up and as long as you have a bank account or have a card, then you can make this work and it'll be very easy for your clients to pay you. There's no work waiting period. It's not like they pay you, and it has to take five days to come through or something like that. You don't want to deal with any of that. You just want everything to be as streamlined as possible. Here I would put PayPal, but this would be however you want to be paid. The work is to be delivered no later than, so this is an end date. Usually I have to come up with an end date and I'll work out how long I think it'll be, and then I'll add about a month. Because sometimes life gets in the way, you don't know how long you're really going to have for a job, but you can't stretch it out too long, at least without communication from the client. But what I usually do, is I think of a good stretch of time that I think I'll comfortably be able to get everything I need to have done, done. Then I add a little time just in case. I'd rather have the work done before the deadline, than not have the work done, after the deadline. But the client agrees that the date of delivery is subject to change depending on outside factors, including but not limited to printing or mail delivery dates. All that means is, the client agrees that the date of delivery, in this case it's digital files. But sometimes the date may change, the client may have changes, or the client may have reasons to go back and forth with the artist that might extend the date, or the artist might have reasons to extend the date. Something can happen to the story and the story might need to change. There's a lot of factors, but this is just to try to keep everything in order. You have an end date, you have a certain date that you need your work to be done by. But again, you always want to have good communication and contact with the client, that way both parties are happy and all of the work gets done in a timely fashion. Okay. Number 3, Reproduction Rights. Upon receipt of full payment and delivery of the work, the artist grants to the client the following rights to the finished work. These are the rights that the client will have with this contract. These are the rights that the client will be able to use the work for. These are Reproduction Rights. The artist grants the client a license to reproduce the work provided the following conditions are met. Credit to the artist must accompany all reproductions of the work. In my case, I do a lot of children's books, so this would be my name on the book. It doesn't necessarily have to be in the cover, I don't state that it has to be on the cover, but most of the time, the author and the illustrator are on the cover. I've never really had any issues with that. It's just the way it goes. I've never really had to worry too much about that. I always explain to the client that if they do make T-shirts or print out cards or something, my name doesn't have to be on every single reproduction. It essentially would just go wherever the author's name would go. It would accompany it. If they make little pins of whatever the characters are, my name doesn't have to be on the pin. There's a distinction, but again, this is just something that you talk to the clients about. The artist retains the right to reproduce the work, including but not limited to, in the artist's portfolio, such as on websites that display the artist's work. I put this in here because, that way if I want to post it on my social media, of course, once the project is finished and open to the public, I would never put anything up before then. I would never put anything up that it wasn't ok'd by the client, since I'm doing work for the client. But once the work is finished, I can still post it to my Instagram if I want, I can post it on YouTube videos. Of course, I'm always very sensitive as to what I'm posting because, I've done the work for the client, and you want to maintain a good relationship with them so you don't want to post anything, that you think might have a chance of making the client unhappy. But again, I haven't really had too many issues with that. Usually I post it and it's to promote whatever the book is so it's great for me, and it's great for the client. Number 4, Cancellation and Expiration. The fee for the work is non-refundable. Once I get paid, there's no scenario in which that money will go back. I won't do work and then give the money back. I was going to get in the weeds, but I'll just leave that for now. The fee for the work is non-refundable. If the client nonetheless does not want, or refuses to receive the work, the artist may decide whether or not to complete the work and will exclusively retain all rights to the work. Essentially, if something happens and the client doesn't want the work, the author doesn't want the work, I can choose to finish what I started or not finish, which obviously you probably wouldn't finish and I would retain the rights to the artwork. It doesn't mean I'll retain the rights to the characters, because obviously they've made the characters. It would be in very bad taste to steal their characters, from a story or something like that but if I wanted to, I could still post the work. But nine times out of 10, if something like that would happen I wouldn't post it and I wouldn't finish the work. It would just be done. What I was going to say before, there are some exceptions. I did work on one book and it never came to fruition. The author, had another opportunity to give it to a bigger production, which she did. We disagreed on half of the payment for me and then that would be it. It would just be half of the payment for whatever work that I had done. He was going to pay me half of what we agreed to for the whole thing. Of course, just be open and be honest with your clients. Usually that will get you a good end result. Nowadays, I do get paid a little bit more. If that were to happen now, then I might do the same thing, it would just depend on how much work I actually finished. Whatever the work that I finished, I would want to just be paid for that work. Number 5, Governing Law. This agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the state of New York. I live in New York, if you live somewhere else, of course, look into certain laws and certain things about contracts, maybe talk to a lawyer if you can. But if anything, just try to find some contracts from your state and just look them over. Maybe everything is similar to this, maybe you can just put Governing Law and put this agreement, shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of whatever state you're in or whatever place you're in. You're going to have to look into that yourself and do some research just like I did for this. Again, as you can see, I've been flashing on the screen that, I'm not a lawyer so this isn't sound law advice, unfortunately. But this is what I've used, so I'm comfortable with it. I'm comfortable giving it to you. I think it's pretty good for someone who is not a lawyer. But I just want to remind you again that I'm not a lawyer and this is not law or financial advice at all. This is just a way to get yourself protected. If you don't have the money to pay for a lawyer or a law firm to back you at this moment. It's better than nothing, I think. I have read and agreed to the above conditions. The client would sign here, the other client would sign here their signature on whatever date they signed it. Artist, me I have it typed in signature on whatever. I would do my signature here and then date it. That's the contract. Down here I have Venmo, Zelle. These are great and I actually prefer these because there's no fee. PayPal, there is a fee, but it is the more popular way to pay so usually it does wind up being PayPal. Billed by invoice, PayPal fee paid by client. This is very important. Since I said PayPal has a fee, I have it in here that the fee is paid by the client. I believe if you send an invoice, you don't have to worry about it. I think the client may be billed for that. But the client pays you $2,000, you'll get, $1,900 and something, because they will take their fee. I then charge them for whatever that fee was because I have in my contract billed by invoice, which means, either I send the invoice, PayPal fee paid by client. Little things like that are very, very important. Because as the artist, you shouldn't be paying the fee, if they choose to pay via PayPal. As long as they know upfront, they know upfront. I have my address here, which I blacked out just so no one sends me anything weird. I have my email, so they can reach me. This is an illustrator agreement. It's been working for me and I'm happy to give this to you guys. Hopefully that was clear and concise. Again, I'm not a lawyer, this isn't law advice, but this is an artist helping other artists out, advice. Hopefully if you need it, you'll be able to put good use to it. Again, if you have any issues with editing, just reach out to me. I think you can reach out to me on Skill Share or just send me an email if you need. But we will make sure that you have a contract to work with. You can kind of have your own back because, you got to have your own back. 5. Part II: Money: How much would you charge for your work? I can't count how many times I've seen people ask this question on Facebook, and it's a really, really tough question. But it all depends on how long you've been doing artwork, your body of work, the type of artwork that you want to do, how difficult it is, how long it takes you. All of that goes into how much you should charge for your artwork. Now if you're doing a children's book illustration, then I think it's more than okay to have them pay you in installments. But for me, I think it's easier to figure out a day rate. My day rate is 225 currently, and I raise it after I do a project. Then I just raise it like $25 or something like that. I definitely raise my rate every year. The more projects you do, you definitely want to raise your rate. Now, I get it if you're starting out, it's hard to really charge a lot of money, but you don't want to kill yourself for $40, or $50, or $60. I would say at least start at $100 in illustration or at least 80-100. I don't think that that's a lot of money, but I understand that you want to get your foot in the door, and you don't want to miss out on projects. If you're going to do that, just make sure that the artwork that you're doing isn't going to take you two days to complete one piece of artwork. Unless you have a lot of time, unless you have the time to devote to it, maybe you're not an adult like me and you have some time during the summer, then that's okay. I totally understand that. I think that's totally cool. You also have to do what works for you. You might know the person. But the thing with knowing the person, just make sure that you're still actually getting paid. That can be very tricky. Some of the most difficult clients are the people that you know: friends, family members because then it gets weird, sometimes, so just be very careful of that. If it is friends or family, they should be more willing to pay you upfront because they know you, they trust you. It's not like you're just a stranger. That would actually be the more convenient thing. If it's a friend or family member, have them pay you upfront, or at least have them pay you more up front because they know you, they should trust you. If they want you to work for them, then they should have that level of trust where they know that you're not going to just run off and not do the work. If you've been doing art for 10 years, then you should definitely not be charging less than a $100 in illustration, definitely not. Again, it depends on where you're from in the world. I'm mostly speaking from my experience in the United States. If you've been doing it for 20 years, then you should be charging more. If you've been doing it like me for 30 years, then you should definitely be charging more. But I also have a big body of work and I have a few books to show. Even if you're on the lower end, once you complete that first project then continue to up your rate because you've gotten better. You have more experience, so just continue to raise your rate. But I definitely wouldn't go less than $80- $100 because then you might not be happy actually doing the project, because you're not really getting paid for it. It'll be coming out to you working for $5 an hour, and it may not be worth your time. As far as what to charge, just really be honest with yourself, with the type of work that you do, with how long you've been doing it, and just come up with a number, but don't undervalue yourself. Don't go too low, and don't come up with a price that you think that they want you to say. Come up with your own price, figure it out yourself. If it doesn't work for them, then you might have to let it pass. Because if you have to go really low and it's lower than what you thought in your head and you're just going along with it and you're saying yes because you're intimidated, you're not going to be happy. You're going to be working on this project for months and months with this person, and you're not going to be happy for months and months. Be sure to charge a rate that you're happy with, so you can focus all your talents on just your artwork. It's very, very important. This is something that I've just learned to do the last couple of years, is really start to value my work. It's very difficult for artists, so I totally get it. I understand it's hard for us. It's not natural for us to be in this position as business people, but here we are. That's my one note of advice. Come up with a price that's good for you. If they don't take it, walkaway. Your time is money. Your work is money, and your talents, it's money. Just in case you're doing one-off drawings, a lot of people do the 50 percent down, 50 percent when you're done. I don't really do that. My day rate is 225. I want that upfront. Sometimes what people do, is they'll give you the 50 down. You'll design it. You'll draw it, and then they'll have 50 million changes, and you'll be working on one image for a month, and you'll be frustrated and totally won't be worth your time, but they have you held hostage because they haven't sent you the other half of the money. Get it all upfront. They should trust you. They're coming to you for work. If they want to go to someone else, they can. But if someone is going to work with me, I want them to trust in me and trust the work that I do. Otherwise, I'm okay with just pass, move on to the next person, but that also comes in time. I understand that you might not be comfortable doing that at first, but keep it in mind. Because eventually, it will be beneficial to just get the money upfront and not worrying about chasing someone down for the rest of the money. Are you doing the whole project? Because no one wants to do half of it and then stop. If you're like me, when you start doing a project, you just want to finish it. You just want to keep going. Hopefully, I wasn't talking too fast. But if I was, then definitely just listen to this video again, because contracts and NDAs and all that stuff is very important. It's just something that we have to deal with until we get a manager or an agency that can deal with that for us. I can't wait. When that happens, I'll be sure to let you know. But as for now, everything is done by me. We're probably in the same boat. That's why we're here. Let's move on to the next video. Video Number 5. What is video Number 5? Let's see. As you can see, I really like to have my videos off the cuff. I do a little bit of writing, but I don't write everything because I want it to be organic because I care about this stuff, and I care about my career as an illustrator, and I care about you as an illustrator, and you not being taken advantage of, and not feeling intimidated, and valuing your work, and getting paid what you need to get paid. That's what I care about. I write a little bit, but then I like to go off the cuff because this is easy. I've gone through all of the things that you're going through, and that you're going to go through. I've gone through most of them and sometimes it's sucks. But when it works out, it's amazing. Even though I'm talking about all this stuff and I'm saying how difficult it is and how much work it is, it is a lot of work and it is difficult, but there's a huge payment. Not even monetary. Spending a lot of time on a project with other people and creating something that you're both happy and proud of and that is physical and is there and it'll always be there no matter what, it's a special thing, so I care a lot about it. I'm glad that you're here, or I hope that you're absorbing some of what I'm saying, because although it's a lot, I'd rather you hear it from me, than to have to fumble through it with a client. Video Number 5. Video Number 5 is going over the actual designing, and drawing, and sketching, and that whole process, and certain things that you should do first, second, last. Of course, this is just what I do. This is what I've learned is the easiest process for me and most streamlined. Hopefully, it'll work for you too. Of course, you can change anything you want, but I'm going to tell you how I go through my process of reading a manuscript onwards into creating the visuals. Onto Video Number 5. I don't know how many times I'm going to say it. Video Number 5. Video Number 5. 6. The Process: What to do First: We made it through that last video. The next part is the fun part, the actual creating of the book. You've got the client, they like you, they love your work, they give you a manuscript. Once you have the story, read through the story, you just want to pick out the most important parts, the most visual parts. What I do is I'll read through my manuscript and I will underline things that I'm like this has to be in the story. Also, take note of all the characters' names. Just so you have an idea of the characters that you're working with because you're going to have to design all these characters. When I underline a sentence or something that's happening throughout the story, I then on the left side of the page or on another part of the page, I will write a quick breakdown of it. Here's an example of a manuscript that I have to break down. The first thing I want to think about is what the setting is. The first sentence, what most people notice about the Laurentians is the crystal bright blue sky, the low rolling hills, and crisp cool air. As you can see up here, I wrote down a and b, so these are different options from reading these paragraphs on this page. Laurentians, question mark. I looked it up to see pictures of what it looked like and I also write crystal blue sky, low rolling hills. This is also coupled with what is going on down here. You come upon a vast and icy clearing. Scanning the clearing, there are no more signs of the rainbows. Instead, you notice a huge shadow looming above you like a storm cloud. Strange you think, last you noticed the sky was cloudless. You look up to see a magnificent silver bird flying on high. It has to be the biggest bird you've ever seen. Essentially, I just take the setting, and then I take what the character is seeing and put in everything together. Flat path lined with trees, tiny rainbows. This all has to do with the story which I'm not going to read the whole story. When I take all of that together and I decide I'm either going to draw this or I'm going to draw a huge silver bird, glowing blue eyes. This decision is more of a description of the character and I decide which one I'm going to do. I think in this case I actually wind up drawing both images because that's what the client wanted. From this breakdown, that's what I do my illustration from. I read everything, I break it down to its simple, the setting, the character, the character's description, and then I make an illustration. This is what this illustration look like. Once I have a bunch of these, I might have to cut some of them. It depends on how many pages, how many illustrations the author wants. But just go through and just make sure that you clock all the most exciting bits and visual bits and underline those and just be prepared to draw those because those are what's really going to drive the story. The last book I did was quite long. It was a lot of pages, so I had to read through a lot and I had to cut a lot because it was only going to be 18 illustrations that they were paying for. Sometimes one of those is a spread. If it's a spread then I charge for two pages. But I always let them know if I'm going to do a spread. Essentially what a spread is, is in my last book, one of the pages was all of the character or all, not all the characters in the story, but it was about five or six characters. That's a lot of characters, so I broke it up. Instead of doing one square, I did two. The canvas was quite wide and all the characters are there, so that's a spread. There might be some visual that's amazing, that's really big and it might be worth the spread. Just make sure that you communicate with the author and say, I think this will look really good as a spread. If I'm doing a spread, then that's two pages. Even though it's one image, it's much bigger than a regular image because it's two pages. That's how I handle and price a spread. The character design. Let me take a breath. I get so pumped, I get amped up. The character design aspect is obviously one of the most important aspects of children's book illustration. Now, the author might have ideas, might have how they want the characters to look or certain characters to look. This is another thing that you communicate with them. When you're reading it, you're going to be very visually stimulated by some of the characters and you should be. If you like the story and you like the book, you're going to see the characters in a specific way. That's where the money is. This is your chance to really be creative with these characters. One thing that I like to do is when I'm creating characters, I do a lot of characters with animals and things like that. You have to figure out if you want the animals to be wearing clothes, not wearing clothes, if you want them to be shorter than the humans, the same size. There's all sorts of little things that you're going to have to work out and you'll be able to work them out once you're there. The last book I did, the little characters. They were stuffed animals, but they came to life and they don't wear clothes. But some of the animals, some of the characters in this story do wear clothes, so that's very important. Picking the colors for the clothes, for the characters, all of that stuff is very important as well. Before you get into colors and things like that, what really worked for me is to think about the mood, the overall mood of the book, the overall mood of the story. What I think works visually is if I stick with a certain palette of colors, like there will be four or five main colors that I'll use throughout. What helps me is picking the colors for characters. Most of the characters I use will only be allowed four or five different colors and I'll just repeat them whether it will be humans, the animals. I just try to stick to a certain color palette. The book will be very, very cohesive if you're not all over the place with colors. What is really helpful for me is saving a new palette for each new project. If I'm doing a book, I make a palette for that book and it's really easy. You just go to the color right here. You can hit the little plus sign and create new palette. I'll set this one as the default and I usually work in classic, so I only have history here, but if I want to, I can choose this color, and then I can tap, I can choose this color, I can tap, and so on and so forth. Essentially, make sure I have that brown color and now I have a palette that I want to use. Of course, you can go back to palettes and you can title it whatever you want and then you have your new palette. It's always best to keep your colors together. That way it just makes it smoother. The more and more you draw for the project, you just have easy access to the colors that you've been working with. It's also very important to draw characters next to themselves. Like when you have the characters, they're probably going to be interacting. You don't want colors to clash. You don't want them all to be too much of the same exact colors. This is just something that you have to work out. If you're drawing humans, the hair can't be too close to the clothing, can't be too close to the background. If you have a main character, it might be nice to make the hair a different color that won't match anything else that way that character will pop. There's a million and one ways to do this and to figure it out. But it's just something to be conscious of. It's something that I wish I did more on my first book. I wish I would have chosen maybe ten colors and just use those throughout the book and just really, really slimmed it down rather than using the colors as I go along and not really think about it. A lot of books that I see that I like, or maybe even three or four colors total throughout the whole book. Some of the books I do are much more involved and my illustration style is much more involved. I can't be quite that limited in my color palette, but I always think about it. Even though that was a lot of word salad, essentially, consider using a color palette and consider sticking to certain hues of color. That will help your illustrations and the whole book be more cohesive. It just helps, trust me, so experiment with that. If you make your dummy book or if you make an actual children's book, just try to stick to the same colors. You'll see that it'll be very beneficial in the end. Once you get the manuscript, underline everything, just highlight the most important parts, the most visual parts, it's very important. You could also jot down little notes, just make it very, very simple because most of what they're writing is, is going to be some action, but you're making it still so you want to just get the one moment that's a nice still shot, like a still shot from a movie. That's what you want to jot down because that's what you're going to want to illustrate. Character development. This is where you can be very creative. Just don't hold back when you're doing this. Just look at lots of outside resources. Look at real animals, look at real people. That's the best way to get inspiration and to come up with the best character designs. Just keep in mind the colors, what they're wearing. Hair colors, things like that. Diversity, using different colors, different types of characters, different nationalities. All that makes books really, really special in my eyes. I like to do it with lots of with my characters. I like to make them a very wide array of skin tones, hair types, hair colors, all of that will make your book all that much more dynamic. Visualize your shots. I always think of it as movie stills. I think of each illustration as a movie still. Take all the action and just break it down to that one most exciting moment and that's going to be your illustration still. Last but not least, make a dummy book. I can't say it enough. Make a dummy book. It will help. Just make your own book. Once you have the dummy book, you're going to want to go all the way, make your own children's book. It'll really help and it will really give you a sense of what it takes to really complete it from start to finish. 7. Backgrounds, References, & Consistency: One big part of children's book illustration, obviously are the backgrounds. I don't like doing backgrounds. I try to keep them as simple as possible, but sometimes you need to show the settings. Sometimes that's important, sometimes it's very important. That's something that you don't have to figure out as an artist, you might be better at background. You're probably better at backgrounds than I am, but I always have to figure it out. Is it a waterfall? Are they in a city, a landscape, the country? All I can say is use references. The more references that you can find, the more images that you find. This is a really cool castle. This would be great for the background. Then you draw something from that reference. That's the name of the game. I've had to do some illustrations where I had to draw like the action is taking place in an airplane. I'm not going to learn how to draw that, I'm just going to use a reference and draw it from the reference. I'll make it cartoony, but I'm using reference. I did a lot of research and found references. The last book I did, there's a lot of hospital and medical equipment and things like that. I used a lot of references. It's important to not think that you have to make up everything on your own. That's not what it means to be an illustrator. Sometimes you have to just take these references because you have to, some certain things have to be accurate to a certain degree. The last book I did was very medical heavy and hospital rooms and arm casts and things like that, leg casts. It had to be medically correct. I just did a lot of research and use a lot of reference, so I can't stress that enough. Use a lot of reference. Don't think that you have to make everything up yourself and don't think that you have to make everything look like whatever children's book illustration is supposed to look like. No, just do it in your own way. Look up your reference, say, "Oh, okay, so this is what this looks like." Then draw it in your own style. Because that's what I do. I had to draw like the inside of a plane cockpit one time. I just used the reference and I just pretty much just copy the reference. You're going to have to do that sometimes. Otherwise, I'd be spending five years trying figure out how to manually draw a cockpit. It's not worth the time. Just for the last time, find reference, use references. It'll make your life so much easier and it will save you a lot of time. Just get used to be doing research. That's just googling something that we all do. Sometimes I do research on my phone. Just look up whatever you need in whatever category your book is or whatever you need to look up, make a little folder, and just screenshot, just drop images in. You're going to want to go back to them later. There'll be very useful in creating your images. The last thing that I wanted to talk to you in this video is about consistency. It's important to keep your characters consistent. In the beginning, when you make a character sheet, that's sort you're going over what the characters are going to look like. Just draw your characters together and just refer back to that. When you get later on in the story and you have to draw them from this angle and that angle and their hands and things like that, it's just important to stay consistent. One thing that I do now is I'll record myself drawing the character because certain characters I need to draw the eyes first, or I need to draw the shape of the head first or the shape of the head and then the ears. It's little things like that that make the character easier. If I don't work on that character for a week, I will just forget. One thing that I do is I record myself drawing the character. You can either make notes or something like that, and that makes it easier to stay consistent. One thing that I do that I have to watch is as I go through and draw these characters a lot, I get better at drawing them. Sometimes they'll look better towards the end than they did at the beginning. Sometimes I actually have to go back and adjust the ones in the beginning because towards the end, I've had so much experience drawing characters that I have to go back and I want them all to look the same. Long story short, keep your characters consistent. If you have to go back and make little changes and little adjustments in the beginning, just do that. Because you just want the characters to look the same all the way throughout your book. That's pretty much all I wanted to say about that. Let's move on to the next video, video number 6. 8. Client Changes and Adjustments: I want to talk about client changes in client adjustments. Every step along the way, once you do your sketches, the clients are going to make adjustments and changes. I know sometimes it's hard because you create something, you spent a lot of time creating it, and then when you get a change, sometimes it feels like a punch in the gut. You're the artist, you know best. But it's a give-and-take. Some clients are going to be better than others, and some will just want you to do what you do. Some clients are going to want to have more control. It just depends on the client that you have. But I always go into it with the mindset that they're going to want to change things, and a lot of times you just have to be okay with it. I have had this problem not with a book project, but one project where there were so many changes that it got crazy. Just be careful of that. There can be some clients that will just go on and on and on, and you might have to make some revision once it gets to 20 changes. Sometimes it can get a bit much. You might have to handle that situation early on if you think they're being unreasonable about the changes because all that means is add more time, more time, more time. That might be something that if that happens often, then you have to figure out a fix, maybe it entails them being more clear about what they need before you start drawing. You might have to handle that as early as possible because that can be a bummer, and it can really take the fun out of illustrating. One of the things I do to really make changes and adjustments easier when I'm doing my illustrations, I do each illustration on its own canvas. I use 3,000 by 3,000 pixels, 300 dpi, that will allow for a lot of layers, and I try to utilize every single layer. Most things that I can, I have on a different layer because you never know when you're going to have to change the color of something, or redraw something, or just adjust something so the more layers that you have, the easier that it is to adjust whatever you're drawing, it's going to make your life so much easier. Never draw things flat, like one color over the other on the same layer. Always use different layers. Always know that you're going to have to make changes. Sometimes you're going to have to flatten things. It happens. But it's important to just have the mindset that you might have to change this at a different time, because that will make you handle whatever you're drawing in a specific way. Just always be thinking about that because you will always have changes. Clients will always make changes to your project. It's just part of what happens. It's part of the deal. The easier that you can make that for yourself when you can say, oh, I can just go to this layer and select this, change the color, no problem. That will make your life a lot easier and it will save you a lot of time. Once you get this deep into a project, time is money. You want to save as much time as possible, use your layers, use as many layers as you can, and just be aware that everything you're doing is subject to change. You might have to change it. Just make it easier for yourself. Use a lot of layers. That's what I do. I'm pretty good at it. I'm pretty good at using a lot of layers and making sure that I don't have to merge things, and I get the effect that I want. But I also keep the editability. I think I made up that word, I don't know, but I love using it, editability. Let's move on to the next video, video Number 7. That was way harder than it should have been. 9. Common Issues & Extra Tips: What do you do when you run out of layers? If I run out of layers, all I do is duplicate the whole project, and then on the new project the that one I just duplicated, I'll merge certain layers that I think that will work, that I'm not going to miss that they're merged together. Then I'll keep going, and if I run into the same problem, I'll do the same thing, I'll duplicate it and then I'll merge them. But I feel more comfortable having that original project with all the separate layers, each step along the way. Even if I have four or five projects now, that's what I'll do because I never know when I'll have to go back to that original project for something in one of the layers. It'll just save me to have it in that layer and then I can copy and paste it or do whatever I have to do. If I run out of layers, I just duplicate the whole project and then I merge some of the layers that I think it's okay to merge, and then I keep working. What do I do when I feel overwhelmed? This is normal, it's natural, and don't be afraid of it. It's okay. Take a breather, take a break, take a day for yourself. It's normal to feel overwhelmed because it's a lot of work. Go to sleep. Get some sleep. Just take a break from what you're doing, because taking that break and then coming back to it with fresh eyes, that helps in figuring out a lot of problems. Just understand that it's normal to feel overwhelmed, especially over a project that you spend so much time on, that means so much to you, and that you might feel some pressure in doing. It's okay. It's normal. We all deal with it, and dealing with it more often will just help you to alleviate it. You'll feel less anxious and less overwhelmed in the future the more that you do it and the more that you work through, and you'll work through it. We all have to deal with it. If you feel overwhelmed, just take a break. Just close it, get out of it, go do something else, come back to it later, come back to it the next day. Maybe even take two days, just take the time that you need to work at your most optimum. It's easy to get burned out, so just be sure to take breaks when you need them. Listen to yourself because you have to be in a certain head space to create the best work. If you're not there, just put the Apple pencil down. Just stop creating. Just take a nice reset, breathe, do something else, and come back to it. What do you do if you get stuck on anatomy or in the background? This is normal. This happens all the time. A, you can keep working at it. B, you can find the references that will help you out. Google some more references. Google other cartoon characters. Google whatever it is. With me sometimes it's like, feet or shoes or what else do I really have problems with? Most of the time with me it's like technical stuff, buildings, interiors, things like that in which I not that great at doing, but the way that I get through them is just by finding reference. Another trick that I do is online. They have these applications like 3D room planners where interior designers can create these rooms and light the rooms and put furniture in there. There's lot of them that are free. Sometimes I just use those to create a room and then I can either draw from it or just decorate the room and blur it and just use that. There's a lot of like little tricks that I do to make things easier. I found that that's the name of the game. Figuring out easy ways to do stuff that really still makes them look the way they want them to look, but there's so much opportunity to use the resources around you. I may light room and use a room and then I can use that to say, this is a good setting for the character. Put the character there, matchup the lighting, things like that. There's a ton of things that you can do. Sometimes it just takes thinking outside the box, using references, using resources that get you through those moments when you just like really annoyed and you can't figure something out, or just take a break and come back to it and continue to work. Sometimes that's the only answer, is just to fight through it, struggle go through it, and make those changes until it looks right, but definitely work through it until it looks right. If you think it looks wrong, the client's going to think it looks wrong, and if you think it looks wrong and the client doesn't think it looks wrong and the book comes out, other people are definitely going to think it looks wrong, so just don't settle. Make sure that you're happy with it. Even if you have to ask another artist or ask a bunch of artists, like go on Facebook and say, how would I draw like a hand like this? Just do whatever you have to do to make it work. Another thing. Always double-check your work. Once you finish, especially you finish like the color and things like that, go through and check out all your images because you're going to see some mistakes. You're definitely going to mess some things up. Lines are going to be off, colors are going to be off. Something's going to be where it shouldn't be, some colors can be bleeding into somewhere where it shouldn't be. Definitely check, double-check, and then check it again. Then after that, you probably want to check it a few more times because there's going to be something off and if you can't catch it, the client might not catch it, and then you'll catch it when the book comes out, and then it's too late. Definitely check and recheck all of your drawings, all of your artwork before you deliver it, just make sure that you check it a bunch of times. Have someone else check it, because you are going to make mistakes. It's normal, but as long as you catch them, you'll feel a lot better. Trust me. The last thing in this video is delivering the images to the client. This is how I set up the sketches and also the color drawings. I'll make a sheet, you can even use like 3000 by 3000 pixels. Usually I use like the equivalent of 8 by 10, just like a regular page of images. I make the images really small, and I will do like a row of three, and then I'll just do a row of three of every single page. I'll put like my name, and I'll put like the name of the book, and I'll make a really nice page to present to the client and say, "Okay, these are the images that I have finished." They're all on the same page. They're all small, but big enough, so when I zoom in, they can see the image nice and clearly. I don't send them the full image right away. I especially don't send the full images until you've gotten your last payment. Just send them smaller. They're not going to steal the images. They're not going to just use the images and not pay you especially if you put them all in a sheet together, they're not going to be big enough to be useful. Big enough to see, and big enough to like for them to get a sense of what you've done and make sure there's no changes needed or required, but it also really looks nice. It really looks professional. I feel like that might have been a little confusing, so I'm going to show you what I mean by making an image sheet. This is what I do when I present my work to clients. You can do it with the color images, you can do with the sketches. Let's pretend that I have done my sketches, and I've done one color image and I want to present this to the client. What I'll do, instead of sending an image like this, which is fine. I prefer to do it a little more professional, so I'll separate my images. I'm going to select each image. Three fingers swipe down, and I'm going to cut and paste. That way they're all on their separate layer. Now I'm just going to go back to that layer with these sketches. I'll do the same thing, cut and paste. Now everything is on its separate layer. Perfect. I'm just going to duplicate this, and I'm going to flatten it. Perfect. Now, I'm just going to minimize these until we have one, and let's say I'll put this guy there, and I'll put the color guy next to him. Now can I put this smaller next to him. All I'm doing is just lining them up and just making it a little more presentable. I may do something like this. I'm going to select them all and just scoot them down a little bit, forgot that one. Select all those layers and scoot them down, and then I'll add text. I think it's actually called a cocoa frog, but we'll just call it the chocolate frog. I might want to switch up the font. What is a good font for this one. I actually have a lot of fun playing with fonts and doing a little design, but it's important. I move it up a little bit and I'll just do some more text. Of course, you don't have to name everything what I'm naming it. You can be creative. Whatever you're drawing if it's a color scheme or even a pitch, like if you're pitching a bunch of characters, you can just be creative. But if you make it, so this is a work of art as well. If it looks nice, I feel like I need to lighten the color of this. It's just important to pay attention to the designs of things as well, and it's a good skill. It's a very good skill to. I'll make that a little lighter. That's nice. Then, I'll take that brown color. I just make a new layer. Now the sketches, it just looks more professional, it looks more finished, and it just looks more like a work of art. When they see this, it'll just give them more of a feeling like you're really paying attention and you're really putting in the effort even for sketch sheets, even for just presenting the images. It just shows that you care, it shows that you're professional, and it'll just make them feel more comfortable that they've put their money in the right person and that they've put their trust in their faith and their project in the right person. I just feel like when I was explaining it was little bit confusing, so I just wanted to show you exactly what I meant. Of course, you could always make a grid as well. You can always make a physical grid on the page and make them a little bit cleaner, but essentially just organizing your images will look really good to clients. Also at some point in time, they might make a behind the scenes book, or you might be able to publish this to social media or something as a way to promote the book. Just make nice artwork throughout even behind the scene things that only the client will see it first. In the next video, video number 8, I'm going to go over things like that, like how I send files. The easiest practices for sending files and to just make that all of that streamlines. That's what I'm going to go over in video number 8, and I will see you there. I'm out of breath. 10. Delivering Files: We are on the homestretch. We've made it to video Number 8. As I've told you, it is a long arduous process, but if you just hang in there, it'll be worth it in the end, I promise you. The next thing, backup all your work, backup all your sketches, all of the art that you've done. Back it all up off of your iPad or off of your computer. I use a little hard drive and I always save my stuff off of the iPad, off of the computer. You don't want to lose anything. You don't want anything weird to happen because weird stuff can happen. What I do is I feel comfortable saving all of my files and stuff off of the iPad, off of the computer, including the Procreate files, like how I'll take the procreate file and I'll just send it to my hard drive that way if anything happens, if there's a tornado and I lose all of my iPads, well, I guess that won't really help me if there was a tornado. Anyway, barring a tornado, you want all of your stuff just on something else. In case something happens and you lose your iPad, you still have the files because now it's not just your stuff that you're losing. They paid you for this. This is your work. You want to make sure that you have it backed up. It's the most important thing is having the images to deliver. The next thing is how to easily deliver your files. For me I find that Dropbox is the easiest way to go back and forth with files and send them to clients so you can get a Dropbox account for free. I think you get 15 gigabytes or something like that. That's what I've been using for years. I make a new folder in Dropbox and then I'll copy all of the artwork that I want to present to the client in Dropbox. I make different folders. I may make a folder says jpegs, transparencies, sketches folder, just like the original sketches that you made. I'll put all those folders in Dropbox. Then I'll just send a link to the main folder so that the client can just open the email, go to the link and they can see all the files and they can have all the original files, wherever they might need to print. I just find this the easiest thing to do. You can't send them all an email because email doesn't allow for large files. If you're doing a book project, it's most likely going to be way too large for an email. We transferring all those things are okay, but Dropbox is easier on the computer and on the phone you can sync everything up and you can make changes if you need to. Because sometimes I'll put stuff on Dropbox and then I'll realize on my iPad that I sent the wrong file or I'll find a mistake. On Dropbox I can easily just switch out the file and then it's there. I don't have to worry about it. What's the word? Recommend. See, I'm going crazy. I definitely recommend Dropbox. It's made my life easier. I use it all the time. I just sent some files today in Dropbox. It'll just make your life easier and the client's life easier. Also one thing to know that if you're sending things that are transparent, they will show with a white background on Dropbox. Sometimes just different files, if it has a transparent background, it just won't show the transparency, it'll just come up as white. That's just something to note. Also, not all files will be viewable in Dropbox. If it's a really really large file or a TIF file, it might not show on Dropbox. Just make sure that they know that thought that download that to the computer or download that to an app that knows how to read a TIF file because not everyone's phone can read that. Just be aware of the limitations of Dropbox. But for the most part, dump the files there and you'll be good to go. I think I'm losing my voice. The next thing to think about is keep touch with the author. Just keep in touch with what's going on. Keep in touch on social media, just see what they're doing with the book project. You can help promote it. There might be a book launch. Just keep in mind that your duties may not be fulfilled after you do the illustrations because hopefully they'll have a book launch. They may put it online and things like that. You just want to be a part of that. That's how you get new clients. If you do a good job, that's how you get the bulk of your work. More clients will come to commission you to do their books if you have a great relationship with the author. They'll talk you up and they will definitely get you work. That's how you get more clients. Definitely stay in touch with the client and definitely just pay attention to what's happening with your book and your illustrations because that's going to be your calling card in the future. 11. Last but not Least: You've made it to video number 9, this is the last video. I'm slowly losing my voice because I've doing a lot of talking because it's just a lot of information. There's a lot of information and I'm so glad that you've made it with me to this point and it won't be as long as all of the videos, hopefully, because I can't do that much more talking and I'm sure you can't do that much more listening. But I do have a few other things that I want to say in my closing notes. The first thing that's very important, I wonder how many times I've said that over the course of the series of videos. Anyway, one thing that's really important is be prepared to say no. You have to be okay with not just taking any project. Not every project is going to be right for you. You have to be willing to not accept a project that you're not going to be able to deliver your best work. If you get some red flags on clients or something like that, you have to be okay with not taking the project. It's a big project, it's a big commitment and you want to go into it comfortable, you want to go into it happy and able to create the best work that you can create. Sometimes it's not going to mesh, so just be comfortable with saying no, you have to look out for yourself first. Definitely know the value of your work, don't undersell yourself, don't undervalue your work. It just leads to problems, leads to misery because then you're not going to be making what you need to make and everything is just going to start crumbling from that point on. Value your work, value your own time, you have to value yourself as an artist because if you don't, then no one else will. Of course, some clients they want you to work for the least amount of money as possible and that's fine I get that, sometimes that's just what they have to do but you have to value yourself and you have to hold everyone else up to that level to whatever you value yourself at. If someone doesn't want to take it and you have to say, move on to the next artist who maybe has less experience and is willing to deal with that client. The next thing, save all your work. Save all your work off of your computer, make sure you have everything saved off of the iPad, off of the computer. You just want to have it in another safe spot. You can upload it to Dropbox, uploaded to wherever but just make sure you keep all of those original files, make sure you keep everything because you never know what you're going to need down the line, so hold on to everything. Your book is now finally finished, it's in your hands. Buy a few of them, sometimes the author will send you a few freebies but sign them, give one to your family, friends. Just sign one, save one for yourself, just so you'll have a nice collection of the books that you've done, you've earned it. This is the fun part definitely buy some, definitely sign some, do that whole thing it's part of the deal of being a children's book illustrator, signing stuff, which is always very scary because you don't want to mess up someone's book, but it is what it is. I mean, you have to do what you have to do. There's no takebacks, you sign it and hopefully, you don't mess up but if you do, it's not the end of the world. But congratulations, when you do finish your book, it's a great feeling, it's a really, really nice feeling and all of that hard work will definitely be worth it. One of the very last things I wanted to talk about is letting go of imposter syndrome. I know that it's difficult to accept yourself as a children's book Illustrator, to accept yourself as an artist, as an illustrator. All of that takes time but it's normal to have imposter syndrome. To feel like you're pretending to be something that you're not, pretending that you can pull off this project, but you're really not able to. An impostor syndrome is a real thing and it's tough. I think it's something that all artists deal with and it might be something that you always deal with. Almost knocked over my water. When do you consider yourself a professional illustrator like that, that's something that I struggled with for a long time. It's like, am I a professional? All of these things really happen when you start to value yourself when you start to realize, oh this is the value I add to what I'm doing. I've put a lot of time and a lot of work into it. If you put the work in, the final product will show what you can do and what your worth, and then once you have a few books under your belt, then clearly you can say, well, I've done this book, I've done this project, I've done this project, and slowly they'll just build up. On your first one, just be conscious of what you can do, of what your limits are, of what you're comfortable with, and go from there. Don't get overwhelmed with everything at once, don't think about everything at once. Take it one step at a time, take it one day at a time, take it one book, one project at a time, and just go slow and just be honest with yourself, honest with the client and I think you'll really enjoy being a children's book, Illustrator. Again, it's not easy, but for those of you who want to stick with it and really find they have a passion and a love for it, I guarantee you that it'll be a very rewarding career path and once you get your books, once you can hold your books and physically see something that you've created, there's really no better feeling than just knowing that you just worked really hard and now you'll have this piece of history. I think that's pretty much it. I've been thinking about making this class for a long time. I've wanted to go over this stuff and talk about this stuff for a long time because I wish that I had someone to just go over all this stuff with me. When I started five or six years ago, I think it would've been very useful, but I did a lot of stumbling, a lot of trying to figure this out on my own, a lot of working through the mud to try to get myself where I am now. Again, I've only done like maybe five or six books to my name and there's probably more experienced illustrators that do things differently, more traditional illustrators that might tell you to do things a different way and that's fine. Everyone has their own path, I just wanted to give a breakdown of what I've gone through and what it's like for a freelance illustrator that doesn't have anyone else around him that knows about children's book illustration. I just wanted to throw my two sense in and hope that you'll learn from my mistakes and that way you'll have a smoother transition into getting into the world of children's book illustration. Once again, I really appreciate you hanging with me, listening to me talk, and taken into a lot of this information that I'm giving. I know that it's a lot of information. Watch these videos again, take notes. The more that you do it, the easier that it will be and I think I'm happy with that. I feel like I got everything that I wanted to talk about off my chest and I hope that it's really helpful. Again, thank you so much. I really appreciate each and every one of you. I don't think I'm going to have a next video, I think I'll just say goodbye in this one. Feel free to follow me on Instagram, drugfreedave, TikTok, YouTube drugfreedave, and I do a lot of video tutorials there. Obviously, you see a lot of my other videos here on Skillshare, I also put a lot of content on YouTube. I also have a Patreon, if you want to support my work, if you want to support my art, then go to Patreon. I'm going to be making a lot of exclusive content just for Patreon. I think that's about it, as always, keep drawing and I will catch you all in the next video. I'm losing my voice by the way, you can tell.