Professional Practice In Illustration: Following a Creative Brief & Executing An Assignment | Lisa Congdon | Skillshare

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Professional Practice In Illustration: Following a Creative Brief & Executing An Assignment

teacher avatar Lisa Congdon

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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project: Illustrate a Book Cover from a Creative Brief


    • 3.

      The Creative Brief


    • 4.



    • 5.

      Taking Feedback


    • 6.

      Making Final Artwork


    • 7.

      Additional Thoughts on Freelancing


    • 8.

      Wrapping Up


    • 9.

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About This Class

Understanding the process of taking an illustration assignment from start to finish is is just as important as the quality of the work you create for your client. Join established illustrator Lisa Congdon for a 40-minute deep dive into the a typical illustration assignment: understanding a creative brief, getting all the information you need to execute an assignment, working professionally and efficiently with clients through every phase, and balancing your personal style with proper execution of an assignment. This class will give you straightforward information that demystifies professional illustration with frameworks to help you understand each phase so that you can execute assignments with grace and ease.

You'll follow Lisa through a mock client illustration assignment as you create a cover illustration for the popular children's classic The Story of the Three Little Pigs. Rather than teach graphic design or illustration techniques, in this class Lisa focuses on a step-by-step workflow with the client, including tips for email communication & question-asking, creating and concepting sketches to share with a client, and rendering final artwork on a deadline. Lisa addresses typical sticking points in the process and how to manage and work through them so you can accept your next illustration assignment with confidence.

This class is especially great for any artist or new illustrator interested in expanding or beginning their illustration business working for clients like book publishers, magazines, surface design and stationery companies, advertising agencies, big and small companies alike. While illustrators new to the business will especially appreciate Lisa's insider insights into the illustration world, the principles shared will be useful for every creative field working with clients.

Meet Your Teacher

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Lisa Congdon


Fine artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon is best known for her colorful abstract paintings, intricate line drawings, pattern design & hand lettering. She works for clients around the world including MoMA, Harvard University, Martha Stewart Living, Chronicle Books, Rockport Publishing, Simon & Schuster, and Cloud9 Fabrics, among many others. She exhibits her work around the country, including in shows at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and Bedford Gallery. A selection of her abstract works are currently available through New York's Uprise Gallery. Lisa writes a popular daily blog about her work, life and inspiration called Today is Going to be Awesome. She is the author of five books, including the starving-artist-myth-smashing Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: My name is Lisa Congdon, and I am a professional illustrator and fine artist. I didn't start making art until I was 31 years old, and that happened because I was working at a really stressful job and I needed something to relieve my stress. So, I took a painting class, and in that painting class I fell in love with painting. In around 2005, I started a blog and I joined Flickr. All of a sudden, I started getting inquiries, like Can I buy that? Do you sell your stuff anywhere? Would you like to illustrate this thing for me? Would you like to have a show at my gallery? I was like, Oh! Wait a second. Maybe I'm becoming an artist. I had never really thought of myself that way. It was something I was doing for fun. Then, I eventually left my job and started making art as a full-time profession. I was constantly running out of money at first and then started figuring out all of the different ways that I can make a living. Illustration was one of them. I also started teaching the things that I was getting good at. So, it's calling together an income of lots of different sources and I call that in my book, Art Inc. Diversifying your income. I highly recommend it. This class will focus on the start-to-finish process of a typical illustration job. Caveat here, every illustration job, as you will soon discover, is very different in many ways. But there is a formula for how they work in general. So, that's what we're going to be talking about. This class is for beginning illustrators for the most part. People who are trained at illustration but just starting out in terms of working with clients. You could also be an aspiring illustrator, somebody who thinks they might want to be an illustrator but wants to know a little bit more about what the cost of illustration is like. You might be an experienced artist who has worked in other parts of the art world but it is really interested in getting into commercial illustration as an income stream. So, the classes really for anyone who fits in to any those categories. It's important to remember that sometimes there are several candidates for a job. You are one of many people at the art director is emailing so you want to make a really good impression. The information that I'm going to teach you in this class will help you know exactly how to communicate with the art director, what questions to ask. The more knowledgeable you are, the more likely you are to get the job. Ultimately, that's what we want as illustrators, is to get the job. 2. Project: Illustrate a Book Cover from a Creative Brief: The project for this class is illustrating a book cover for The Three Little Pigs based on a creative brief. This class is really about understanding the process of accepting, working through, and completing an illustration job. Well, I want you to have a lot of fun with the assignment and create a really clever awesome illustration. Focus less on that and more on demonstrating that you understand the process, including writing a really great email to the art director asking questions, which we'll go over, and understanding how to make rough sketches and practicing that if it's not something you typically do, and then taking one of those sketches to final artwork. Being an illustrator isn't just about making cool artwork. That's a really huge part of it and that's part of why people will hire you for jobs, but they'll also hire you because you are a good critical thinker and problem solver, you're good with time management, you are a great communicator, you ask good questions, and you follow direction well. All of those are really, really, really important skills for illustrators to have. This assignment will give you an idea about what a typical illustration job looks like from start to finish. In this class, you will learn: what to do when the email from the art director arrives in your inbox; all about the creative brief, what it is, how to read it, and how to determine if you are up for the job; how to communicate well with the art director or editor, how to ask questions, and what questions to ask to make sure you have all the information you need to begin the job; how to begin the job, including understanding the quote, "rough phase", concepting ideas and doing any necessary research and rendering rough sketches for the client; how to communicate your concepts or rough sketches to the client; how to take feedback and how to do it professionally, and why it's important knowing the client isn't always right; and finally, about rendering final artwork using the approved rough sketch. Throughout the class, I may be using terms that are not familiar to you. Some of them are industry jargon or words that we typically use, and I'll do my best to define those for you as we go through the material. For this class, you will need, whatever you use for your artistic medium. Your illustration could be hand rendered and scanned, it could be digital or a combination of the two. You'll need a scanner if you work by hand. You'll need a word processing tool to share your sample email to the art director, you can upload a screenshot or a PDF, and of course, you'll need a computer. Depending on your level of experience and your artistic medium, this project should take anywhere from two hours to eight hours to complete. One of the main things I want you to remember from this class is that your professionalism and excellent communication skills are just as important as your artistic skills when you're an illustrator. One of the trickiest things in this class is going to be having the confidence to share your work. We're setting up a situation where you're probably going to get some feedback on your sketches or your final illustration from some of your peers and possibly from me, and part of being an illustrator is getting feedback and integrating it into the changes that you make. When you're an illustrator, it's really important to not take things personally and to think about feedback as something that's going to help your work get better and for you to do a better job at the assignment, not as something that you use to berate yourself and make yourself feel bad because you're not good enough. If you're stuck, I encourage you to go into the class forum and ask questions of the folks who are also taking the class and of me, and I'll do my best to get back to you. I also encourage you to use your friends and family to help you work through any creative blocks that you have while you're working on your illustration. These are the things you should upload to the project gallery, a screenshot or PDF of the response email to the art director with your questions about the creative brief, two rough sketches for the cover of The Three Little Pigs, and one final cover for The Three Little Pigs that is based on one of your rough sketches. What will make your project great versus okay is your unique take on the creative brief, really infusing your own creativity and unique thinking in there, and your demonstration of really professional communication with the art director. It might feel intimidating, if you've never done this before, to post your work in the assignment area, but remember, we learn by doing and experimenting and taking risks, and I can't wait to see what you guys come up with. 3. The Creative Brief: Typically, when you receive an email from a client or an art director, you'll get what's called a creative brief. They may not refer to it as a creative brief and that doesn't really matter. What matters is that you get a paragraph at least of information about the job. For example, a brief description of the job, what it is they'd like you to illustrate, when it's due. Any other important specifications about the job. For example, it needs to be delivered in vector form as opposed to as a Photoshop file. Maybe information about why they chose you for the job, and why they think you're a good fit and lots of other interesting minutiae. When you receive the creative brief before you respond to the email from the editor or art director, you want to ask yourself the following questions. Can I execute this job within my skill set based on the information that I've been given? Does this job sound interesting to me? You don't want to take a job especially a lengthy job that doesn't sound like it will be a lot of fun. Do I have time in my schedule to meet the deadline? This is really, really important and lastly, am I comfortable with the fee? Let's assume for the sake of this class, that the fee we suggest in the creative brief is just fine with you. While it's important as an illustrator to push yourself out of your comfort zone and accept challenging jobs, you never want to accept a job that isn't in your skill set. In other words, if you don't have the technical artistic skill to execute a job, you never want to take it because they're counting on you to actually make the work and complete the deadline. This is a particularly important one for long-term jobs. Remember, illustration is really fun, but it's a job, and it's a lot of hard work. You want to take work that sounds interesting to you, and doesn't sound dreadful or boring. Meeting deadlines is really really important in the world of illustration. Most of what you're doing is attached to another larger timeline from the publisher or the company that you're working for. So, your ability to make the art and the amount of time that they're suggesting is really, really important. Once you read the creative brief and ask yourself those questions, you want to figure out what if these questions are answered already, and which do I need to ask for more information on. Then you're going to compose an email to the art director that is polite and professional and prompt and by prompt I mean, responded to within 24 hours, that lays out all of the questions you have about the assignment. I'd also suggest that if you're interested in taking the job, you make that clear in your initial response. Sometimes and actually oftentimes, you'll receive a creative brief from an editor or an art director, and it won't have all the information you need. One important thing to remember is that creative directors and editors are usually really busy people juggling many projects at once. So, their creative brief, doesn't have the information that you need. Not because they're inept or lazy but because they're just really busy people, and they don't have time to get into the details of a project initially. Know that they will really appreciate your questions and your inquisitiveness about the project. I've purposely crafted a creative brief for you that doesn't have enough information. So, begin thinking about all of the questions you have for the pretend or director in this assignment. Let's talk for a second about what makes a professional email. You always want to have a positive tone in your email, and you want to start with a salutation. So, the email should be formal but friendly for sure. By salutation I mean, dear so-and-so or hello so-and-so. I always start off by thanking the person for emailing me and for their interest in my work and that goes regardless of whether or not I think I'm going to take the job or not, you always want to express gratitude and enthusiasm because it's more likely that that person will hire you again, when you are available or when it is the right job for you, if you've expressed a good amount of interest initially. I would also proofread your email several times for typos and sentence structure and grammar. When you're composing your list of questions for the art director, make sure that they are expressed in a way that is, for lack of a better word, deferential. So, you want to treat the art director with a lot of respect and as the person who has more experience and knowledge than you. So, the tone of your email and of your question should reflect that. In this first part of the assignment, you're going to compose a pretend email response to the art director for the pretend creative brief, for the book cover of The Three Little Pigs. Again, you want to make sure that you type it out and either take a screenshot of it, or make a PDF of it. Anything that you can upload to the assignment area. So that your classmates and I can read your email, and learn from what your perspective is. 4. Sketching: Once you've sent your email with your list of questions about the assignment to the art director, you'll inevitably receive a response and don't worry if it doesn't come right away. Like I said, art directors are usually really busy people. It's not that they're annoyed by your questions. Once you get your questions answered, and again this may take a few rounds back and forth of emailing with the art director, you may actually decide you're not up for the job or that you don't have time or you don't have the skills to deliver. In which case, you want to politely decline. More than likely, however you will accept the job and the next phase is to get started with concepting and rough sketches. There are two words that are used interchangeably in the illustration industry that essentially mean the same thing, one are sketches and the other are roughs. I think we all know what a sketch is, and I'll give a little bit more information in a minute about what we mean by sketching as it pertains to illustration. There is a term that we also use and it's called rough, and rough in this case doesn't mean messy or half-assed. It means really basic visual outline of what your concept is, and it's like in fourth grade when you learned to make a rough draft of your essay. It's a similar idea. Oftentimes, when you get an illustration assignment, the art director will tell you exactly what they want you to sketch. This doesn't happen very often, but it's actually usually the easiest way to complete an illustration job because you don't have to go through the concepting phase, which we'll talk about in a second. I got a job once very early on in my career where the art director literally drew a picture of what she wanted me to draw a picture of, and that illustration actually never made it into my portfolio because I didn't actually like her drawing very much. But knowing what I knew then, I was like I guess this is what I have to do. So I did it and she was happy with it and we closed out the job. But most of the time, that doesn't happen. In fact, you have to use a lot of problem solving and creative thinking in concepting what you're going to draw for the illustrations. Most of the time also, you're going to be concepting more than one idea. Part of the reason that they're hiring you is for your creative thinking and your ingenuity, not just for your drawing skills. So, they want to know how you think something should be illustrated. This is particularly true in editorial jobs for magazines and newspapers. They'll send you the story and they want you to think about a creative way that the story or a particular point in the story can be illustrated. Oftentimes, when your job is to concept several ideas for the client to choose from, you're going to need to do some research. For example, I illustrated a book for a client once that was based in like the 1920's. There was not a lot of archival photographs from that period that they were able to offer me for the context of the book, so I had to do a lot of research about what did furniture look like at that period of time, what were people wearing, what was a typical way to get around town, and that really helped me to develop my illustrations. You might also need to concept what has already been done on this topic by other illustrators or reading about the particular topic that you are illustrating, either the material that they're sending you or doing your own research. So, research is often a big part of concepting and illustration. You can approach your sketches however you would like, but most of the time, clients will leave it up to you to decide if you use pencil or pen or if you work digitally, how much detail you want to incorporate into your rough. But remember, it shouldn't look like a final illustration. You don't want to go to all of the trouble to develop final artwork that has detail in color when you might have to go back to the drawing board and start over. So, that's why we do rough sketches, it's like minimal effort to try to get the idea across. Once a sketch is approved, you might want to add more detail before going to color to make sure that you've got all the right elements. But for the most part, we're staying super simple. For that reason, I usually sketch in pencil if it's something that I'm ultimately going to paint. In fact, sometimes I even make my sketches on watercolor paper so that I can literally make the final artwork on top of my sketch, so that the approved composition is exactly the same in my final as it is in my sketch. If I'm doing a line drawing or something that's going to end up in digital form, sometimes I sketch in black pen and then add color later or scan and manipulate in Photoshop. But again, the idea is super simple for sketches and roughs. In the creative brief, one of our tasks is to illustrate the cover for the three little pigs in a way that shows some elements from the story. You may have in your emails or the art director gotten even more information about exactly what elements they'd like you to highlight, but let's assume that they're going to leave it up to you. They just want your illustration to reference symbols or elements from the story, and we know in the three little pigs. If you don't know the story or if you don't remember it, it's included in the creative brief, so be sure you read it. We've got four characters essentially, at least in this version. We've got the three little pigs and we have the big bad wolf. So, those are some symbolic elements that you might want to incorporate. I think the pigs being the most important. We've also got three houses that they'd each built out of various materials, and illustrating those houses is another way to incorporate the symbolism from the story. There might be other sort of ways to modernize the story in the illustrations. I've seen people illustrate the three little pigs as architects or in other ways. So, be creative, think outside the box about how you sketch out your ideas. I came up with two different ideas, they're not the most brilliant ideas I've ever had, but they do definitely reference the story and elements from the story. So, the first sketch I made, I've decided to include the symbolism of the house and include the three little pigs and then I divided the house into three sections. I think the first pig uses straw. I think in the final artwork, I may actually want to make sure that this looks more like straw. This guy painted or built his house out of wood, so I've made this section of the house look like wood slats, and this guy used brick and he was the successful pig of course. Then I incorporated in my own hand lettering, which is something that you also should do, if you're a digital artist you can do digital lettering, the title into the roof of the house. Anyone who knows the story of the three little pigs, and most people do in English speaking countries, could clearly see that this was referencing. I didn't necessarily think it was the most interesting cover, so I took a different approach with my other sketch. I decided also to make a sketch that showed a sort of standoff between the pigs and the wolf because I think to me that's sort of the heart of the story in a way how the last pigs have outsmarted the wolf. I didn't know how it was going to fit three little pigs and a wolf staring at each other, so I decided to stack the pigs on top of each other and make them slightly different sizes but they're all sort of little, and then I drew a wolf over here. In the title, I decided to call it the Story of the Three Little Pigs and this Guy, which I thought lent a little bit of humor. A lot of times in illustration jobs, if you insert your own humor or ingenuity even if the art director hasn't asked for it, they will really appreciate and love it, and they can always say no, no, no, no. They can't say that, but they might really appreciate your creative twist on the title or on the illustration itself. Then, I also added here an old tale illustrated by Lisa Congdon. I had much more fun developing this illustration, which is why in the end I chose to take this one to final, which we'll look at shortly. But ultimately, it's up to the client to decide which of your concepts to take to final, and they may come back and require that you make revisions to your sketches. So just because you turn in a set of sketches, doesn't mean they'll choose one and you take that one to final. Sometimes that happens you have to make no revisions to your sketches. But most of the time, you're going to be in a process of receiving feedback and incorporating changes, and that's what we're going to talk about next. One thing to note is that the sketch phase of an illustration assignment is often the most labor intensive. Even though you're not rendering final artwork yet and you're not making something really colorful and beautiful, it requires the most time and work. There's a lot of back and forth with the art director, which we'll talk about in a minute, and a lot of research and thinking and drawing in this phase. Once you get through the sketch phase, it's actually pretty easy. In the case of this pretend assignment, we're just making one illustration. So, the art director has asked for two sketches for one drawing, one concept basically, or two concepts for one cover. But in many cases, you're going to get illustration jobs that are multiple pieces. So, some magazine jobs, for example, you might have one full page illustration in the opener of the article and then several what we call spot illustrations, which are sort of small illustrations that are interjected into the article over the course of the pages in the magazine. So, you might have to sketch multiple things multiple times. So, oftentimes, you're turning in, I don't know, sometimes up to 15 or 20 sketches for one assignment, sometimes more depending on how big it is. So that's just another important thing to remember that it's not always one sketch or two sketches you're turning in, sometimes it can be multiple. So, making sure you have time to get all of those done on deadline is really important. 5. Taking Feedback: So, you've been working really hard on your sketches and your concepts, and you've got two to send in, or depending on the job, 15 or 20. You've got them all ready, you've scanned them, you've got them in digital form, you've attached them to an email, and you're about to hit send. Before you hit send, make sure that you, again, write an email to accompany them. In some cases, you want to maybe write a list of what all the sketch concepts are in writing, describe your thinking behind each one. You don't want to over explain. Because ultimately, especially in book and editorial illustration, the visual concepts should really speak for themselves. One of the hardest parts of being an illustrator is waiting for feedback from your client. I can't tell you the number of times I have made a Facebook update to my friends saying, "Just hit send on such and such job and can't wait to hear what the art director thinks" or "now the painful part of waiting." It's really normal that it takes a long time, sometimes days, even to hear back from the art director. They may initially write back and say, "Hey, I got your sketches. Thanks so much, I'll get back to you in a few days." Sometimes that's because they're, again really busy and it's going to take them a while to review what you've sent. Sometimes they actually have to take the sketches to a committee of people. We're going to sit around a table, and talk about them, and decide if they like any of them, and which one they like the best. So, waiting for the response can often be really nerve-racking. I've gone down a very dark hole before, telling myself that I hated everything I sent, or they're ready to fire me because I don't hear anything back. But that's never been the case. In fact, the times that I've been the most worried have actually resulted in the best illustration jobs. So, don't worry if it takes a long time for them to write you back, it's totally normal. Sometimes you'll hear back right away and that can feel just as overwhelming, and scary, and intimidating. So, back a few years ago, when I was illustrating this Field Guide to San Francisco, I had to draw several maps. I actually, for all my experience and years as an illustrator, had never illustrated a map before. It's something I've done a lot of since then, but I was totally new to it at that time, so I was really intimidated by the assignment. He gave me a lot of freedom, to have fun with scale and lettering. So, I was really excited, but I was a little intimidated. So, I finished my first map sketch, it was a map of Sonoma. It was in pencil and I got it just how I wanted it. It had all the elements that he told me he needed to be in it. I hit send and literally, not more than five minutes later, I got an email response. It said, "Dear Lisa, please give me a call. Here's my number. From Taylor." As you can imagine, I totally freaked out and not in a good way, like he hates it, he's going to fire me, even though I had already signed a contract and everything. I was really, really scared. So, I decided to be mature and pick up the phone and call him, even though I was just tempted to send back an email that said, "What? Is something wrong?" So, I called him and he answered, and he was like, "Lisa, I love it." He's of course, from the south, so he has a great accent. That is all to say, that oftentimes, even when somebody wants to talk to you on the phone, that is not always bad news. Once you do hear back from the art director, occasionally you'll get a, like I did, resounding, "I love it." He might suggest a couple of small changes or tweaks, and those are the easiest situations. But most of the time, that doesn't happen. Most of the time, they'll say, "I love it, but" and there'll be a list of things that they want you to change. We'll talk about how to organize and respond to those changes in a moment. But the first thing I wanted to say is that, getting feedback can feel really overwhelming, and intimidating, and actually disheartening often. You put your heart and soul into something, maybe you stayed up all night to finish it, and then you hear back that they either didn't like it, or that they want to go in a totally different direction, and that can feel really hard. But remember, illustration is a job, and they're paying you. So, your job is to make the client happy. Obviously, you don't want to compromise your own personal aesthetic or your values or morals. I'm not suggesting you do that. But you've accepted the job, your job is to make the client happy, and it's the client's job to get the best work out of you. Oftentimes, you're working for a client who's working for their client, so they're like the middleman between the advertising agency or whatever. So, it's their job to make sure that you are illustrating something that most clearly represents whatever the product, or book, or magazine article is going to be. Thinking about feedback as constructive and helpful in a way to improve your work is really important. It's also important not to be defensive, or to take feedback personally, or as a personal attack. Remember, they hired you because they think you're awesome and they love your artwork. So, usually, it's about tweaking, and changing, and getting the best from you and remembering, that is really important. Sometimes, when you get feedback from an art director, you'll get a really awesome, meticulous, bulleted list of all of the changes that they want you to make and it's very specific. Actually, while those responses can sometimes feel a little overwhelming because there's like 15 things they want you to change. In some ways, that's the best case scenario because you know exactly what they need you to do, and they've been really thorough and detailed in giving you feedback. I find that those are often the easiest changes to make because I know exactly what I'm supposed to do. Most of the time however, you're going to get a rather vague email that vaguely describes what they'd like you to change, or vaguely describes what they don't like or do like about the illustration. So, it's your job to take in as much of that as you can and try to understand every bit of it. Sometimes, I literally piece apart each sentence and make my own bulleted list of what they're asking for. Then I go back and I say, "Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback. I want to make sure that the next round of changes reflects everything that you're looking for and here are some questions I have." They might be questions about the feedback they gave, "Are you saying you want me to change this versus this" or "I'm slightly confused about this. Any clarification you can give me would be great." Those, that kind of language. Again, you're being really professional. You can see that illustration includes a lot of question-asking. So, figuring out how to ask questions is, to get the information you need is a really important part of the process. You might feel like you're being really nitpicky, and pesky, and annoying but you're not. You're actually getting the information you need to do the best possible job. Normally, in the world of illustration, there are no more than two to three rounds of changes to your sketches. Sometimes it's more, but I highly recommend that you lay out, or are very clear about the maximum number of changes or rounds of changes that you agree to in your contract. If you don't, you could get into endless rounds of changes. If you don't have anything in your contract stipulating that it's only supposed to be three rounds, or five rounds, or six rounds, you could end up having an internal back and forth with the client. So, that's just something to know. When you have gotten all the answers to your questions about the changes that they'd like, you want to go ahead and make those changes. If you work in pencil or digitally, minor changes are really easy to make. So for example, when I work in pencil, if there are easy changes to make, I literally just take my eraser and erase certain parts of the sketch and then redraw certain parts. That's the beautiful thing about pencil. Digital work is similar, really easy to erase or delete, and add, and move things around. Sometimes, the changes are so drastic, or they want you to start from scratch, or they don't like any of your sketches, so you have to start with some new concepts. Sometimes, you can manipulate what you've scanned digitally. So for example, a couple of weeks ago, I did an advertising job for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I made a montage of a drawing that was basically, a montage of landmarks from Oregon, the state where I live. They liked all of the elements, except two, which they wanted me to remove, and they wanted me to rearrange them in a certain way. So, instead of getting out a new piece of paper and redrawing in pencil what I had already drawn, I took my scan, and then deleted the two in Photoshop, and moved everything else around. It was approved. Then, when I went to final artwork, I then went to the effort of redrawing everything once I knew that we were on the same page about the arrangement. So, lots of different ways to approach making changes that sometimes don't require a lot of work, which is great. When you're in the process of going through all of your revisions and changes with the client, you want to get clear each time you make a revision and turn in a new revised version of whatever you're doing that you understand when it's due. Sometimes, they might actually need the changes by the next day and it might require staying up late or staying up all night, in some cases, which is hopefully very rare. But sometimes, you have an entire week because the art director is going on vacation, or it's a project with a long timeline and they want you to take your time. So, no need to stress out about turning something in right away or making the changes immediately if it's not necessary. So, always ask when is this next round of change is due. 6. Making Final Artwork: By now you've composed an email, outlining your questions for the art director, you have completed two rough sketches for the cover of The Three Little Pigs and you're choosing one of them to take the Final Artwork. You never want to move on to final artwork without explicit direction from the client. You want in writing, something like, this sketch has been approved or concept approved, time to move on to Final Artwork and sometimes I will even say, okay, I think I'm ready to be on the Final Artwork. Are we on the same page? Because oftentimes they will come back with two more changes, and they want to see another sketch. But sometimes they have a couple more changes, but they'll say, just incorporate those into the final artwork. So, just get clear on whether you're ready or they think you're ready to move on to color and detail in your work. Your rough sketch was approved by the client, because of the composition and the elements in the drawing or painting or whatever it is that you're going to be making. So you want to make sure in your Final Artwork you're sticking to that basic composition. I think I mentioned earlier that sometimes I even draw my sketch on the paper or the substrate that I'm going to be using to make my Final Artwork. I can just basically work off of that and I don't have to redraw, so that everything is exactly how I presented it and how it was approved originally. Sometimes, illustration jobs become so intense and what a client wants from you becomes so much bigger than you ever thought you were signing up for. That you become afraid that you might not be able to finish the job on the deadline. And no, first of all that that's really normal. But it's also the onus is on you to communicate your fears or your worries about not meeting the deadline to the art director. Whenever I'm feeling nervous about my ability to execute the assignment on time I always write an e-mail sooner than later, expressing those concerns, saying I want to do the best work for you. This is turning out to be a little bit bigger of a job than I had imagined, any chance I could have another 24 hours or another two days or however much more time you think you are going to need? Most of the time, illustration jobs, with the exception of maybe editorial jobs for newspapers or magazines, are padded with a bit more time and they pad them in case they need or you need the time. So, oftentimes you'll say, can I have an extension and they will say sure. Because, the schedule has a little wiggle room in it. But sometimes that's not the case as I said with editorial jobs. Newspapers in particular for the most part published every day. They need artwork turnaround really quickly, which makes Editorial illustration more challenging, but also really fun for a lot of people. But asking for a deadline, advance, or extension is totally normal and totally okay, but be prepared that they may come back and say no, and that you may need to stay up all night. I mentioned this earlier, but one of the things you want to work out initially is the file format. So should the file format be a vector file, should it be a photoshop file, or do they want a TIFF. Some publishers have really strict rules in their companies about file format for people who are actually going to be using the work to put in the product or the book and you want to get clear on that in advance. Both because, it needs to be a file that you feel comfortable or a format that you feel comfortable working with. For example, I once got a job offer for a book, but they needed vector artwork and at that time I didn't have any experience working in Illustrator. So I had to decline the job because I didn't have the skill to execute the job. Because I could not deliver the job in the file format that they needed. I quickly learned illustrator after that, so that I did not have to turn down any more vector based jobs. But, getting clear on that in the beginning is important. Then, when you are wrapping up the job, you want to make sure that you deliver the file in the same format that they have asked for and there are several ways that clients like files to be uploaded. So, if it's a pretty small file, you can actually just email it to the art director. Most of the time your files are going to be large and sometimes are going to have multiple layers in them. So, oftentimes they'll want you to use some kind of file transfer system. Like, WeTransfer, which is an e-mail or web-based system or Dropbox, which a lot of people have, and if you don't have Dropbox, I encourage you to sign up for it. It's really easy and I use that a lot in my collaboration with clients. Oftentimes bigger publishers will have File Transfer Protocol Systems which are called FTP for short and there are many free downloadable FTP transfer softwares, that you can download onto your computer. You basically log in through the FTP to their system, and literally drag your files over to their file system and then they pick them up there. So, get clear from the client how they want the files delivered and in what format For my final illustration for the cover of The Three Little Pigs, I decided to go with this second sketch that I made. I had the most fun making it. I think it has sort of the most humor and intrigue in it and is the most visually interesting. So I'm going to tell you a little bit about how I created this illustration from sketch to final. This is the actual size that you are supposed to make. I think the Creative Brief says six by seven inches and if you ever get a Creative Brief that does not tell you how big the Final Artwork should be, or what the dimensions are, what the bleed is. If you don't know what bleed is, bleed is the amount of space around the edge that it's going to be trimmed off. So, typically you do not want any words, or any important parts of the illustration to be in the bleed area. So, this is the actual six by seven. It's pretty small typical children's book size. But, I made a bigger copy, be easier for you to see. So you can see that it's really similar to my sketch except it's in color and how I created this was, I took my actual sketch and I laid a piece of tracing paper over it, and I traced the main elements. I do this a lot, either using a tracing paper or a light box. A light box is a really great tool to have if you are an illustrator. Because you can trace over your sketches, you can create revised sketches, by only tracing the parts that were approved and then redrawing the other parts without having to go completely back to the drawing board or to scratch. So, I encourage you to get yourself a pad of tracing paper and a light box. Of course to trace your own work, not somebody else's work. So, I trace then I scanned this in my scanner, and in black and white, and cropped it to the correct size. And then in layers, I removed all the white space in the background and layered in some swaths of watercolor paint that I had previously painted. So, this does not show the blue but it shows all the other swaths. I scanned this in color, and then I removed in photoshop some sections of this, and laid them in behind parts of the drawing. And I had some blue watercolor already scanned, and I used that for the sky. And essentially, everything else was already drawn. So it's basically line drawing with some watercolor laid in. So this is one way to make an illustration that combines digital technology and hand drawing. I didn't physically go in and paint this, but I painted elements and then added them using a digital tool in Photoshop. If different illustration techniques like the one I just described briefly or any other techniques digital especially are new to you and you want to learn more how to create digital illustrations in Photoshop or in Illustrator, I highly recommend going to Skillshare. There is a list of classes, and they have a wide array of classes using digital tools to create both graphic design and illustration and getting your tool box full is a really great way to make sure that you have all the skills you need to become a professional illustrator. 7. Additional Thoughts on Freelancing: I'm often asked by illustrators just starting out. "What do I charge for my work? How do I know what's a fair price? When a client comes to me, and says, 'What's your fee?', I have no idea what to say to them." And that's super common. I think, one of the greatest sticking points, especially in the early career of an illustrator is pricing. It can also be a sticking point when you've been doing this for 10 years like I have. So, just know that it's normal, and that there's always a bit of guessing involved. The closer you can get to having standard prices overall is great, but in the beginning that's hard, and just know that it's hard. But there are some great resources and I wanted to share them with you. There's a small section in my book, Art Ink, on pricing, which talks about different ways that you can enter the pricing conversation. Oftentimes, a client will tell you what their budget is in the email. They'll say similar to the pretend email that we're looking at today in the creative brief. The fee for this job is $2,000, or the fee for this job is $350, or whatever. That's always great when that happens because you know what their bottom line is, and you know that you can either accept it, or you can try to negotiate. But oftentimes, and more often than not, they won't have a set price for you. So, they'll say, "What's your fee for these?", or "What would you charge for these?" And that's when the anxiety often sets in, especially if you have no idea, or if it's the kind of work that you've never done before. So, my favorite resource for pricing and actually looking up prices, or what the industry standard is for certain kinds of illustration and licensing jobs is this book, and it's called The Graphic Artist Guild Handbook for Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. Not only does it talk about pricing, but it has sample contracts for licensing and illustration, and graphic design. It's an amazing resource, and I think they updated every few years, the Graphic Artist Guild puts it out. It's kind of like a bible in my home. I used to have an agent, and agents are great for helping you with pricing, obviously, that's part of their job. But I no longer have an agent. I am my own agent now, and so, I often need to refer to this book. But in many cases, I also just sort of have my own idea of what I like to charge for certain things, or how much certain things are worth to me, or certain jobs are worth to me, depending on my schedule and on my experience with a particular kind of work that they want me to do. So overtime, you will build your own repertoire of pricing, and as of negotiation skills, and all the things that come with pricing, but in the beginning, it can feel intimidating. So this book is a great resource. 8. Wrapping Up: There are two places for you to have discussions and engage with the other folks in this class. One is the assignment area where you're posting images of your work and there are places for people to comment and people will probably give you feedback or ask questions, so make sure to check in there. The other is the discussion forum. For the sake of this class, let's use all of the professional, polite communication skills that we want to use in the real world when we're providing feedback to our classmates and when we're receiving feedback from our classmates. Let's pretend we're in a real life situation and we're either an art director and illustrator, and let's use the language and a level of respect and professionalism that we would use in the real world. I encourage you to post any questions you have or anything you're struggling with in the discussion forum, but know that I may not be able to personally respond to everyone's question. I'll do my best to get to as many of them as I can. But, your classmates are a great resource and can respond also and so I encourage you to discuss things with each other. The goal of this class isn't to create the most amazing, beautiful, award-winning book coverage, you end up doing that that's great. The goal really is to dig into the process of creating an illustration in the way that you would do it in the real world. So, making sure that you're paying attention to really excellent, polite, respectful, professional email communication. That you're thinking of smart questions to ask to make sure that you can create the best work. That you're actually responding to the creative brief thoughtfully and maybe even inserting your own bits of creativity and whimsy where you feel are appropriate. Then, finally to create something that you can present to the client that you're proud of. Thank you so much for joining in this class. I can't wait to see what you guys create and feel free as always to let me know if you have any questions about the assignment. 9. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: