During the summer 2014, I drew illustrations for a children´s book Into Exaltia written by Heather Rivera. In this blog post, I´d like to describe how I began illustrating the book and how I worked on the illustrations.
How I got the job
The part of getting the job of illustrating Into Exaltia was mostly about luck. I have freelancer profiles on a few websites (Elance, Freelancer). From time to time, I log in and browse the opportunities for illustration and cartoon jobs. So far, I´ve had a few minor successes, doing single illustrations for different clients, which was nice. Once, I almost got the job of doing a weekly caricatures of famous singers and bands, but it didn’t work out in the end.
One day, I was browsing job offers on Elance and I had noticed an advert for illustrating a tween book. I hadn´t heard the word tween before, but it sounded nice enough. After some googling, I discovered that “tween” is either polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate or a kid that is 10 to 12 years old. I hoped it was the second meaning and applied for the job. Heather (the author of the book) had liked some of my previous drawings and chose me to draw the illustrations for her.
The illustrating itself
Working on the illustrations was really nice. The internet is full of stories about terrible freelancing experiences. Freelancers or clients disappearing in the middle of the project, problems with communication, delays with delivery of the finished thing from the freelancer, delays with payments from the client, and many more. Fortunately, this wasn´t the case of illustrations for Into Exaltia.
Heather and I had agreed on dividing the project of twelve illustrations into a few sections and set deadlines for each part, to make it more manageable. I had estimated that I would need a week for each illustration. In the end, the whole project took about nine weeks, which was great news, because I am a big fan of being on time.
I had worked on the illustrations in the mornings before work and in the evenings after work. I did the most of the drawing between 5 and 7 a.m. This may sound crazy, but I found it best to work when “normal people” are asleep. It´s very easy to get distracted by the social networks, friends or drunk tourists singing outside. Concentrating is not difficult early in the morning.
For each illustration, I was given a short description of the scene. Then, I drew a quick pencil sketch and sent it back to Heather. After that, we started discussing the sketch and what the illustration should look like. Sending the picture to Heather was actually my favourite part, because I found it quite thrilling to wait for the reply. And, the reply can’t really be bad. If you get a reply saying that nothing needs to be changed, it’s great, because it means you’ve done well. If you get a reply with some suggestions for changes, then you have just received a constructive criticism, that will help you make your picture (and possibly all your future pictures) better. After dealing with all the suggestions, doing a few corrected or new sketches, we ended up with a picture that both sides felt good about. It usually took a few days to get from the first sketch to the final sketch. After all this, the only thing left was to draw and ink the final version of the picture. Again, this would take a few days, but once the planning is done, it’s only technical. All you need is patience.
I also drew the illustration for the back cover of the book and the map for the front cover of the book. Heather has already contacted me for another gig. I am going to illustrate her second children’s book in the Prism Walker Series.
And that´s it. I am skipping the stuff nobody cares about, like scanning a picture into the computer, playing with contrasts to make it look better and so on. On the animated gif picture below, you can see the change from the final pencil drawing to the fully inked final illustration.
So, that´s how illustrating Into Exaltia worked. It may not sound exciting to a person that wasn´t involved in the process. But, if you are reading this line, you have gone quite far in the text, so you must be interested. Unless, of course, you have started by reading the end, in which case, shame on you and go back to start. Anyway, thanks for visiting my website!
If you have any thoughts you´d like to share, questions you’d like to ask or complaints you’d like to make, just let me know.