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Picture Book Illustration: What size/type of paper?

I have had quite a few questions from aspiring children book illustrators and I will do a series of posts to answer them. This first one is regarding the size and choice of paper in samples of picture book art that will be submitted.

I’d like to preface this with a bit of a disclaimer, as I have worked  mostly with one publisher in these past 24 years so I have no idea what guidelines other publishers may have. You will need to find that out from the publisher prior to submission.

Back then, I used to send transparencies or color copies of my art samples. Never send original art! Nowadays, everything is done electronically . And I must say, the quality and ease of  scanned images is a big improvement. If you do not have a good quality scanner, then have it professionally done. Graphic designers and copy shops can do high resolution scans at a reasonable cost.

Ok, so now on to the size of the paper. That all depends on how you envision your book. Go  check out the picture book section at your local library or bookstore. Books come in lots of different sizes, but the majority are in the ballpark of 8 x 10 (8 x 11, 9 x 11…) Some books may be wider than taller and vice versa. You have to decide what format will work best for your art, but I suggest you stay close to the 8 x 10 industry standard. Keep in mind that you can work larger than this and reduce the image size in the scans. But work proportionately, i.e, 8 x 10 enlarged 25% will be 10 x 12.5. Don’t work smaller and then enlarge  for you will lose image quality.

As the the type of paper? Again, that is up to you! My contracts state that I do my art on “flexible, fine-toothed paper.” I generally paint in watercolors on Arches 140 lb. or 300. lb cold pressed paper. I wouldn’t exactly call these fine-toothed. Both have a bit of texture, but they scan nicely. I chose these papers after experimenting with lots of other papers. There are many  brands/types of watercolor papers to choose from. The hot pressed varieties are perfectly smooth, but I find  that the colors are not as vibrant when I paint on them. But that could be me! You try it! I would stay away from papers labeled “rough”, as that may be  too much texture which may cast shadows in the scanning process.

Here is a sample of scanned book art done on Arches 300 lb. cold press paper: (click to enlarge)

Froggie in bed

Here is a sample done on 140 lb. cold pressed paper:bear_went_over_the_mountain_interior4

Both of these papers are absorbent and produce rich colors. they are also quite workable- that is you can lift out/ scrub out mistakes with a sponge and repaint in that area. The 300 lb. weight is stiffer and more forgiving. It also doesn’t wrinkle and buckle when it’s wet. The 140 lb. paper needs to be wet down and taped so it doesn’t wrinkle. But it’s also half the price…

If you work in other media, again, the choice is yours. Experiment with the varieties of papers and see which one(s) you like the most, or which are best suited for your art.

See? It’s really up to you. You hardly need me!

But I need you! Please ask me any picture book making questions you may have. I will answer them in posts and hopefully  they will be useful to new picture book artists and writers!

Happy book making!

You may also like: So You Want To Illustrate a Children’s Book?, Book Art in Progress, Inspiration for Budding Picture Book Illustrators

About the author

Iza Trapani I am a children's book author and illustrator, fan of Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss, lover of big dogs, aspiring yodeler. When not in my studio, I spend time outdoors and have climbed over many a mountain to see what I could see.

82 Responses to Picture Book Illustration: What size/type of paper?

  1. Cindy Wider says:

    Hi Iza, great blog post. Do you use ink at all, for black outlines and if so, which brand would you recommend. Wafm wishes Cindy x

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Cindy! Hope you’ve been well! I sometimes use a little ink and colored pencils for outlines and small details. I use Staedler and Micron pens. They come in various thicknesses. I lean toward the thin ones (.005- 1)Years ago I used a rapidograph, but they clogged all the time. The pens are great. I have used crow quill pens and Higgins or penguin drawing/India inks for some of my other art, but not for illustration. The varied line from a crow quill pen is beautiful, and if outlines were a bigger focus in my illustrations, I would definitely opt for a crow quill pen. The colored pencils are Prismacolor. xo

  2. CG says:

    Hi Iza,

    I have Pentalic 130 lb multi medium paper, not started work on it, it says its good for light washes, will this do until i can afford the Arches? It seems durable enough, but i was wondering what most illustrators use; light or heavy watercolor washes? I figure I can use these up (50 pgs in a spiral book!) and practice techniques until I’m ready to do my final paintings for submissions.

    About submissions, and I’m not sure if you would know this or not, why do some publishers prefer to have dummies and tear sheets physically sent to them versus having them emailed? I would think it would be much more easier to keep track and review them by email, than having many come in by mail; and its cheaper for the artist, as shipping is expensive; just wondering. I’m looking at the book publishers section in my illustrator/writers market book and most prefer hard copies.

    So glad you are doing a post series for us, you’re awesome, and thank you!
    One more question, can you show us one of your books and how you did it from start to finish, including the thumbnail storyboard and the first and final dummies? This would help me immensely, as I have sort of an idea of how a dummy should be made based on my research, but would love to see aone by successful author like you. Would especially like to know what the dummy book looks like that is submitted to the pub’s when its ready.

    From what I’ve read you dont actually paint the whole book, just a few examples of the real thing to show them what to expect, and the dummy is line drawings, black and white, based on Uri S’s book. Again, I have no idea on this, would love some guidance, whenever you can, I know you are very busy.

    Again, thank you for doing this and helping people like me 🙂

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Again, CG- paper choice is not something to fret over. A good composition and drawing will shine on a piece of newsprint. It’s much more about the art. I don’t know about what other publishers want for first time submissions. You will need to check with them. Do not send your originals. As I’ve said before, for first time submissions you only need to show a few b/w pages and a color painting or two. My blog post Book Art in Progress – shows my whole process- from storyboard to rough sketches to final art. I will post more when I have time. Some publishers don’t necessarily want dummies these days. They may prefer just scanned images of a sketch for each page. The best way to learn about book dummying is to study picture books. And Chapter 6 of Uri Sheulevitz’s book explains it very clearly.

  3. This is so interesting, Iza! I’m going to share it with all the illustrators in my class. I think an illustration series is a WONDERFUL idea! I love hearing about how you illustrate because it’s something I know nothing about. But I have a question, which maybe you can address in a future post. How does an illustrator manage to make her characters and settings look so uniform and consistent from page to page in a picture book? How do you make sure the fur is exactly the same color, or that the hair bow is in the same place or all those other little details?

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Thanks, Susanna. I will definitely address your questions in a future post. Briefly, it’s a matter of practice- lots and lots of early sketches to get the characters and setting down. And after so many years of painting, my eyes can see a color and match it. But often I make notes of what colors I used for the fur or whatever.. It is a challenge to be consistent. I spend much time figuring things out to maintain consistency as views and sizes change.

  4. I’m not an illustrator, but I will be following along just as an interested writer. Plus, I will love seeing your work, Iza!

  5. This is a dream come true, Iza! Thanks for doing this! I would like to ask, how much larger do you create your originals – by what percent. Or do you know the industry norm? I am still working on my watercolor skills, so I will be following these posts very closely!

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Julie, I have worked up to 25% larger, but I usually work the size of the book- leaving a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of bleed. I don’t know if there is an industry standard, but I’ll look into it. I am so glad this will be helpful to you I love your illustrations!

  6. Yay, Iza!
    I’m doing my happy dance. I’m starting a file called “Iza”s Inspiring Illustrating Ideas”. I do scan my work now and I love that I can add borders and manipulate the art somewhat despite not knowing or having Photoshop. Photoshop, I’m told, has quite a learning curve. Oh, there’s another blog post idea–letting us know the inside scoop as to whether Photoshop is really as difficult as I’m told. If not, perhaps you could teach an online course on Photoshop.
    Thanks again, Iza! 🙂

    • Iza Trapani says:

      I am so glad! I only know Photoshop on a basic level. I took some private classes with a pro who taught some specific things that I need to know. I only use it to make flyers, to clean up and frame scans and to join 2 images together etc.. It’s really not that hard. If I can do it, you certainly can!

  7. P.S. I forget to say…I LOVE YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS!

  8. Yvonne Mes says:

    Thanks for a fascinating insight into Picture Book Illustrations. I will be following all your post in this series from now on!
    I am an emerging illustrator and I work using sketches, scanned water color and other textures and paint and combine in Photoshop. When your contract talks about the quality of paper, that wouldn’t really apply to those of us working digitally I assume, but we would have to be mindful of our resolution etc. something I am still struggling with. Have you got any advise on that?
    Thanks, Iza.

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hello Yvonne! Thanks so much for stopping by! I really know nothing about digital art, but I do see an advantage in controlling the colors, saturation, contrast, etc. For the most part, my art directors and designers have done a great job in matching the colors of my art, but sometimes it’s a little too washed out, or too saturated. It would be nice to have complete control of it, to get it just the way I want it. It’s especially hard to go dark in watercolor. Darkening the colors in photoshop is a nice option. I just do it the old fashioned way- lots of trial and error and repainting… I took a peek at your website and art- lovely!

  9. I’m listening. I’m not an illustrator (only in my dreams). But as a writer, this interests me so much. As a matter of fact BBF, all writers should keep up with this. It makes us all better at what we do. Do you always use watercolor or do you experiment with different materials like pencils etc.? I never thought about the type of paper. WOW. New respect for all the illustrators in the world. Especially you, Iza!

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Thanks for listening, BBF! I always do my books in watercolor (mostly because I try to maintain the same look in my nursery rhyme books.)But I am itching to try something new. Lately I have been playing with acrylics, arylagouches, and pen and ink. I have also toyed with collage and colored pencils. I always do my sketches in pencil. Thanks for all the kind words, my friend!

  10. CG says:

    Can’t wait to see what you will come up next for the illustrators series! Before submitting to a publisher, is it recommended to call them directly to ask what they want, or mail them a query letter?

    When sending the sketches, do they want all or just a few of the illustrations, as well as an outline or manuscript of the story? None of my reference books mention this, or maybe I am making mountains out of molehills?

    • Iza Trapani says:

      You will have to check out the publisher’s submission guidelines.Did you miss this in my previous response?: “I don’t know about what other publishers want for first time submissions. You will need to check with them. Do not send your originals. As I’ve said before, for first time submissions you only need to show a few b/w pages and a color painting or two.”

  11. theartofpuro says:

    Thank you,so interesting and usefull:)

  12. This is going to be a great series, Iza! I wish I could draw, but I’ll follow along sighing and dreaming anyway. I love the richness of color in your illustrations. That blue in Froggy is sublime!

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Thank you, Renee! I bet if you had the passion and put in the effort, you’d be great at drawing- just as you are great at everything you do!

  13. Pingback: Poetry Friday: Storytime with Iza Trapani and Little Miss Muffet

  14. Iza, this is such great info! It’s awesome to see an artist share information. I paint murals as a profession presently, specializing in children’s murals. I am starting the process to get back to illustration, specifically children’s illustration. Is it possible to just be an illustrator, and not a writer? I would love to connect with writers that don’t illustrate.
    I have several things to manage first, but would love to get started soon. Your work is Beautiful and Fun! I am happy to have come across your work. ~Ken

    • Iza Trapani says:

      I am so glad to be of help, Ken, and thanks for the kind words. I love your murals! Yes, it is absolutely possible to be just an illustrator. In almost all cases, the publisher will match up the author with the illustrator. Usually they don’t even talk to each other! Rather than searching for an author you should send samples of your work to publishing houses that you think would appreciate your style. Check out picture books that have a style similar to yours and see who published them. Also joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators would be beneficial.They have conferences, regional and national, that you can attend and sign up for portfolio reviews from art directors at various publishing houses. Good luck!

  15. You are helpful and fast! Art is my passion, and I will follow where it takes me. Thank you for giving me a path:)

  16. Liz Thomas says:

    Hi Iza

    Great to have contact and guidance from someone so successful. I am almost ready for submission of my first picture book , just completing one finished illustration and have roughs to produce a dummy book. When you talk about submitting to a publisher, I’ve read loads of advice which says always use an agent as publishers won’t look at ‘slush’ if sent in without an agent, is this true in your experience? I thought I’d have to find an agent first?

  17. Kim Merritt says:

    Dear Iza, I am so excited about finding your site, and help. I have been illustrating for self publishing children’s book authors, and now after 6 books, I have run into a snag on the latest work. I have been submitting a good quality digital photo (300 dpi) of my paintings, and all has gone well until now. Publishers are asking for 600 dpi, already formatted to the 8.5 X11 page! I am a paint on paper artist, and know very little about computer art or formatting, or photoshop. When YOU submit art, is it already formatted and ready for that publisher to just add the text? If so, is there EASY and inexpensive programs out there to do that with? I thought that stuff was for the graphic designers to do at the publishers. DO I need to get a scanner? What if I work big and my art won’t fit in a scanner? Oh so many questions! I hope you can help me. Blessings, Kim

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Kim, thanks for stopping by! 600 dpi sounds a little excessive. I am curious if the publishers you speak of are the self publishing authors. And do you have a contract? I certainly hope so! Even if these are friends, you should have some kind of written agreement. It should state in the contract what you are required to provide and how you will be compensated, the time frame, and many other things… In my case (which is standard for traditional publishers,) I send in my original painting. The publishers’ art directors and designers handle all the layout, design, scanning and printing. When that is all done, they send me back my original art. If you do need to send in scans, you can have a copy shop do it. They can scan right to e-mail at the size and resolution you need. The price should be reasonable. I’ve done it in the past as my scanner is too big for my standard 8.5 x 11 scanner. Please feel free to ask me more questions and talk in more detail. Your experience might be helpful to other illustrators starting out and I would love to do a blog post on it.

  18. Kim Merritt says:

    Wow, Iza! How wonderful of you to take the time away from your art to be such a help! What a blessing!
    For a contract, I have been using the one provided by:
    Self publishing authors are often scared by it… and several times I ended up having to get rid of the royalty section. I am usually dealing with these authors, and they are dealing with their self publishing-publishers, and sometimes it seems all 3 of us have no idea what we are doing! I am chronically disappointed in how the finished book looks, as the books version of my art is not proper colors or it is formatted so badly, that I am almost ashamed of these publishers. What is up with their graphic designers?
    They just want digital art sent in emails, no originals. So this is why I asked about scanners, as my 300dpi photo’s apparently are not enough. Or maybe I just need to learn photo shop!
    I love the idea of just doing my art, sending it in as you do, Iza, and letting the publisher do their thing and do it beautifully. But, I think the self publishing companies don’t want to spend too much time and they throw things together.
    Just to help other newbie illustrators, this is how things have worked out for me. I started out a fine artist, and on a whim, put my art on lots of free websites, including those for children’s book illustration. Through those sites, I get contacted for portraits, and for illustrations for self publishing author’s books. I started out charging only $40 per page, and now am up to $100.00 per page. Self publishing folks do not want to pay much, as they are footing the bill for publishing as well. I use the agreement mentioned above at Blog Castle, (how thankful I am for that!) and I have had tweaked it for my own needs. I request my authors write detailed descriptions for each page. I send them an emailed photo of the sketches for approval or revisions. When approved, I paint the final page, and email the photo. They have to pay me for that page before I send them the next one. ( I encounter stalled projects where they run out of $, so this way it keeps us in contact and protects me from doing art I will never get paid for.) I often work in pastels which is an issue if I have to start scanning my art… pastel does not like to me touched! But I also work in acrylic on canvas paper. I am in my second year of this adventure of children’s book illustration, with 6 books published, and I am currently working on 3 others, with 3 other folks waiting! I am very thankful, but have so much to learn. Thank you again, Iza! You are wonderful!

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Kim, I am so glad you are using what looks like a good contract! And you are smart to get paid before sending new pages. But I am disappointed that your work is not being reproduced well. Publishers (both self and traditional) are always looking for ways to cut costs, but illustrations play a vital role in picture books, and in this highly competitive and saturated market, it’s important to put out a super high quality product. These days it seems that everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon of publishing books. While self publishing is easier than it used to be and more highly regarded, I find that many self published books are poorly produced, edited and/or illustrated. This will undermine the self-publishing industry. If you are not happy with the finished books, you need to protect yourself before you start. In the contract it should state that your artwork is to be reproduced at a high quality, with close color matching, on good quality paper. This will not only protect you, but also the author. A beautiful book has a greater chance of selling well. Also, keep in mind that if they are paying you a flat fee and the book takes off, then they will make all the profits. I would push for royalties whenever possible- or increase your flat fee rates- especially if you think the book has the potential to be a big seller (in that it is exceptionally well written, has a great and unique story.) And finally, you might consider learning Photoshop. I am not much of a computer person but I took some private lessons with a Photoshop expert and she taught me the basics of what I needed for my purposes. The rest I learned on my own. It’s quite intuitive and there are many tutorials online if you get stuck.

  19. Kim Merritt says:

    Thank you for your wisdom, Iza. I thank you also for what you are doing here, taking the time to help illustrators and being that resource and really… a mentor… that was so needed. I am just thrilled to have had the opportunity to ask for and receive your help.
    I know you are right about the copyright and royalty issue, at some point I will be busy enough that I can afford to turn those who refuse that part of the contract, away. Photoshop, I shall pursue and conquer!

  20. Dennis Price says:

    Thanks for being there for us beginners. it’s my plan to go to the book store and look at the sizes of the different books. I was planing on a 32 pager, that means ,I believe, 29 pages of drawings right? I should interview you on my radio show. email me if your interested.

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Yes, Dennis, roughly 29 pages of text, but it could be 32 pages of drawings as picture books tend to have art on each page- and even more if there is art on the jacket flaps and end pages. Check out different picture books. Most are 32 pages, but the text can start on page 3 or page 6 depending on the layout, word count etc. I don’t think I can do an interview unless it’s over the phone ( I am in NY state), but feel free to contact me if you have any other questions. Good luck!

  21. Kathleen Kramer says:

    Hello Iza,
    Thank you for your wisdom! I am seeking help to create a illustration book of my father’s drawings. Not for publication, but for a sentimental gifts to family members. Most of his pieces are charcoal sketches, and pen drawings in various sizes. I have Googled and searched “How to turn illustrations into a book”, it usually leads me to children’s books and publishing. I know makes photo books with a hard cover. Do you have any ideas where I could start? I was thinking about 75 illustrations, grouped as 25 per theme, with one page of text at the beginning of each group. I have an artist friend who could scan large sketches for me (she is an artist who sells prints), but what size should I scan them to? I was thinking an 8×10 would be the least expensive. I would appreciate any ideas!!!! I live in Portland OR, do you know any one here that could direct me?

    Kind Regards,

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Dear Kathleen,

      I am so sorry I missed this comment. I either didn’t receive notification or it got lost in the shuffle. Sadly, I have no experience in what you are asking about. A site like might be your best bet. What a lovely thing you are doing! I am sure all the family members will appreciate it!

  22. What if you have been working on a book, authored and illustrated, with intents to self-publish, but suddenly, you are inspired to dig an agent out of the woodwork and go the traditional route? How would this friend of mine (he lives in Niagara Falls) go about it? How can you sell an agent on a picture book that is already in it’s second trimester?

    Also, is a 9×12 layout an impossible goal in a 8.5 x 11 world?

    Thank you for such an informative page. Brings up alot of good questions for me.

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Harvey,
      Your friend can still contact agents. He might also join (society of Children’s book authors and illustrators.) They have regional and national conferences which are attended by agents and editors. It might be good opportunity to show his work. The 9×12 might not be a stock size in some publishing houses.

      • My illustrations are square; they are being created in photoshop, so although I am able to change their format, I would prefer a square picture. But I sill need my line of text underneath. So I need a rectangular book size, but 8.5 x 11 leaves a small picture area and a large text area….do you have any suggestions for book size that accomodates?

        Thank you,


  23. Hi Iza….

    I love this, thankyou so much for posting. I was wondering if you could help me with bleeds. I can never get my head round them. You say you sometimes work to the same size as the book but leave bleed….so if my book is 8.5 x 8.5inches what size would my illustration be? Thankyou in advance.

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Sarah,

      There’s nothing to wrap your head around!:-) Just add a 1/4 inch on each of the 4 sides. So, your 8.5 x 8.5 will be 9 x 9. The reason for bleeds is to have a little wiggle room- so if the art is not perfectly measured, it can be repositioned- that kind of thing. Also, to take into account the gutter of the book (where the pages will be folded- where art will get cut off.) Have fun!

  24. Mikka Roque says:

    Hello Iza!! Thanks for this blog! I would greatly like to ask for your help in giving me your opinion on my story (at least the second book) and whether it would be suitable for fourth or fifth graders. I want to know how cute or realistic my illustrations will look like based on the readers. 🙂 I can email you part of it, if you could get back to me through e-mail.

    • Iza Trapani says:

      You’re welcome, Mikka. I am not too familiar with the middle grade genre, so would not be a good one to critique your book. If you have a picture book- 4-8 age group- I’d be glad to do a manuscript review. My fee is $100 per hour. Good luck!

  25. anthony Lopez says:

    hi! Thank you very much for sharing your experience, I have this illustration I did and I would like to scan and print it in 11X17 as a present to my mom that lives in Mexico , What kind of paper should I use?

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Anthony, I would ask the print shop for a paper recommendation. They are much more experienced in this kind of thing than I am. Good luck!

  26. anthony Lopez says:

    how I can email you my illustration? so you can see size and material

    • Iza Trapani says:

      What material you use is up to you. Artists use all kinds of media but for scanning, a smooth textured and flexible paper works best.

  27. Hasmi says:

    Awesome posts Iza. Very helpful in understanding how and why you make certain choices. Most helpful for me is that you work in the final book size with bleeds and loved your post as you go through your entire process. What started as a way to get my 9 year old over his fear of the blank page has turned into our first picture book. its been a cool journey.

  28. Gloria Bass-Wright says:

    Just wanted to thank you for your examples of what and what not to do, when sending illustrations. I’ve checked out your site(s) thus far on “Book Art in Progress”, excellent information. As well as learning to except rejections. I wanted to know, are their specific pencils to use so while sketching it doesn’t smear? Or is their something I can use to rest my hand on to avoid smearing? Are there different types of quality tracing paper or does it matter? Last but not least, in your examples of “Book Art in Progress “, on the final sketch….you started painting. My question is; how do one take the sketch and transfer it on the watercolor paper. Do you have a step-by-step instructions on this subject? I’m new to your site and would greatly appreciate more information on these subjects. I’m looking forward to following and learning more,as an future illustrator . Again, “Thank you” for sharing your ideas, creations, illustrations and love of Art far and wide.

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Gloria. Thanks for stopping by. Drawing pencils come in different hardnesses. If you go to an art supply store you can find HB pencils which are medium hard and H pencils which are harder and smear less. There are lots of others. The Bs are quite soft. I use a kneaded eraser to clen up smudges. It doesn’t tear the paper fibers or leave residue. I use Sun-Glo Thumbnail soft tone paper which is like a tracing paper but smears less. It comes in rolls and can be found in art supply stores or you can order it online. To trace my final sketches onto watercolor paper, I use a lightbox. Hope this helps! Have fun!

  29. Morgan Wills says:

    I’m getting ready to send photocopies of my illustrations to publishers. When photocopies of work are requested, what do they expect to see besides the illustrations on the page? Do you print your information on each photocopy? Is there a format that publishers are used to seeing that will give a better chance for consideration?

  30. Lindsey Adams says:

    Hi Iza,

    I have just finished basic illustrations for a children’s book I’m writing. I suppose my next goal is transferring it some how to paper suitable for Prismacolor colored pencils but I am unsure of what type of paper is best. How do I transfer my template drawings to the final paper I will be using for the book?

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Lindsay, Sorry for the late reply. I was away on a trip. You can try out different papers and see which you like best. Your art supply store seller can help you. As for transferring your template drawings, you can use a light box and trace them, or there is also graphite paper which you can use to trace, but that will make a firm and un-erasable line on the final paper. I would invest in a light box. Small ones aren’t too costly.

  31. Sally Winning says:

    Hello Iza,
    I have come across your web site while looking to see recommended type of paper for printing a children’s book and wondered if you could help me in my quest? I’ve written and illustrated a children’s book and I’m about to print it too but
    I don’t know what paper to print it on? Cost is a big factor I’m unemployed and doing everything on a budget. It’s pinging well on glossy photo paper a bit dull on flat satin cardboard type paper for the illustrations, but on the story part it looks kinda stark as the photo paper is hard unlike most books that are soft and pliable and it doesn’t look right but would you know what works well for both the illustration and the story (the words part)? Just don’t know what paper to use. My illustrations have been done on A3 Sandyford 300lbs watercolour paper and I’m going for A5 size of book. Feedback on this subject would be most helpful.
    Kind Regards
    Sally Winning

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Sally,

      This is really out of my realm of expertise, other than saying that I prefer a glossy paper in picture books. The colors are richer on it.
      My publisher does all the printing so I have no knowledge of what kind of paper they use. When I make bookmarks or promotional flyers, I go to a good copy shop, look at paper samples and have them advise me as to what is a good paper choice for each project.
      Good luck! Iza

  32. Craig says:

    Hi. I am going to illustrate for a self-publishing project which will be a 9×9 page size. Should my illustrations be drawn to scale on that size paper and then scanned onto the computer for the best graphic designing results? It seems like the obvious answer is “yes” but want any advice to make sure double work will be avoided. Thanks.

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Craig, I am so sorry for the late reply. I’ve had computer issues and wasn’t notified of my comments..Yes, you can do that, but will either need a scanner beyond the standard 8 1/2 x 11, or will need to reduce the drawings proportionately, then enlarge the scans )I think…). Production is not my area of expertise. A good print shop should be able to advise you. Good luck!

  33. Hello,
    My question: what size paper is best for a 15-page spread (30 individual pages) to have a nice continuous illustration being careful for the center binding. The bigger the better in paper size is what my research has found. Or should I use two papers per spread? I would like my finished pages in the book to be at least 10×10 or 9×10.

    Great blog!
    Thank you for sharing your professional experience.
    Warmest regards,

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Marlena,
      I would use one large piece of paper per double-page spread. That way it will match up better when bound.Be sure not to put anything important within at least a 3/4 inch of the gutter (center binding) on each side. You can buy large sheets of whatever paper you plan to use and cut it to the size you’ll need. So for a 10×10 format you will need a sheet that is 10×20. However, you should have about a 1/4″ of bleed all around. that gives you (or the designer) some wiggle room for trimming it to size- because the dimensions might be a bit off. Also, leave yourself a little are of white around the art-1/2′ or so. So, taking that extra 3/4 inches into account for a 10×10 format, you would actually cut a sheet that is 11 1/2″ x 21 1/2″. Good luck!

      • Hi Iza,
        Thank you for your quick response. As I was doing some rough sketches, I was distracted by my own thoughts and questions that were whirling around in my head. The technical thoughts for what materials to use and printing became so overwhelming that I had to do more research and stop drawing. This is when I found your blog. You have really saved me! I feel more organized on the process of printing. I have been writing and sketching all of my life not knowing what to do with it all. Now, I am ready to take it to the next level and hope to enjoy the process with an opened mind.
        You are very generous to share your knowledge and experiences.
        Thanks again.

  34. Jaime says:

    Hello Iza,

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your blog and for sharing your wisdom so generously with us. Your illustrations are beautiful! I have questions but will do more reading on your blog first to see if they have already been answered before I ask. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing the nuts and bolts of the illustration process. I am starting work on illustrations for a self publishing author, as well as have so many book ideas of my own. Reading your blog has given me a boost of confidence because it was the technical information I was needing on sizes and such. So a hearty thank you from me to you!

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Oh, thank you, Jamie! You are very kind. I’m so glad my info is helpful. Looking forward to your questions!

  35. Hi Iza,
    I am planning out a picture book for young readers. Various websites say 32 pages is standard for publishing with about 4 of the pages for title copyright ends. Does this number depend on publisher guidelines? I noticed in some young readers that the pages extended 32 pages, especially in a narrative, say a bedtime story, fairytale. I take books out of the library and study the various layouts, storytelling, etc…so, I am sticking to what I am understanding. Any thoughts on page counts and why?
    Warmest regards,

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Marlena, 32 pages is the most common and economical picture book format.Certainly there are books with more pages or other formats (though always in multiples of 4 for printing purposes).Board books are a category all their own.To maximize pages, you can start the text and art on page 3. Page 1 will be the title page (listing title, author/illustrator and publisher.) Page 2 will be the dedication and copyright page. You can extend some art onto page two, but the text will start on page 3. Warm wishes to you, Iza

  36. Marlena says:

    This is so helpful. I feel now I have a starting point in organizing my book’s structure.
    Thank you so much for your guidance.
    Have a blessed day.

  37. Brenda Moxhay says:

    Hi iza
    My friend has written a book and asked me to illustrate it. Not knowing anything about illustrating I found your information very helpful. I love painting animals so I’m looking forward to starting my art work. I will let you know how I get on

  38. Jacqui says:

    Hi Iza, your information is very helpful. Thank you. I would like to ask, when you scan, what output format? Like is it jpeg, png or others?

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Hi Jacqui! I do jpegs on my scanner. Mine is a printer/scanner and not the best resolution. If I have a larger than letter sized image and want higher resolution- I go to my local print shop and they’ll do a high res scan to my email. They’re only a couple of dollars per scan. Happy New Year!

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