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)
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!