Whenever anyone asks me how much does a children's book illustrator cost, I want to reply, how much is a car? The answer is not a dollar figure, but another question, what is it that you are looking for specifically?
I have seen illustrations range from $25 per page to $2,500. The average being $200 to $500 per Illustration. As in most cases, you get what you pay for. The cheapest rates are from students or recent college graduates, but their style is most likely still developing and your first page will most likely look a lot different than the last page of your book. Also, the artist may not have the printing experience to create your artwork and you really could have something that is unusable by printers because they were created at the wrong size or resolution.
Another aspect to the cost is rights.The artist owns the right to the artwork until they sign them away. Some artist include the rights in the work, called a work for hire. While other artists retain all rights to the artwork and printing. The most common is a work for hire agreement. It is also common practice to offer a mix of price and rights. For example, an artist might offer do create their artwork at half of their normal rate for 50% of the rights to the work or any variation thereof.
Traditional illustration is the predominate format, though digital versions are becoming very organic with programs such as Corel Paitner which allows the artist to use digital watercolor, oils and more.
Traditional Illustration styles include one or more than one of the following together
- Pencil - Pencils come in a variety of grades that effect softness and darkness when shading. the H grade pencils are very light and the B grade are very dark, and artist will usually use a combination of many types.
- Charcoal - When used properly and shaded well Charcoal can create amazing realistic grey-scale images of surrealistic places.
- Ink - This is a favorite medium for people who want to create black and white whimsical illustrations or combined over watercolor or pastels to create vivit yet defined artwork.
- Watercolor - realistic. can be scaled down in size but not up.
- Paint - Acrylic or oil, oil is more expensive but produces richer brighter colors while acrylic is more flat but perfect for scanning and publication.
- Watercolor - realistic. can be scaled down in size but not up. Changes might require seperate illustrations of parts to be 'photo-shopped' over the original.
- mixed media or other - you only have to look online to find that people can draw with anything from Coffee to french fries and ketchup. The look and style of your end product should determine the medium and not the other way around. You should use whatever combination of mediums gets you the look and feel that you want in your children's book.
- Bitmap - realistic. can be scaled down in size but not up. Anything scanned in or created in Photoshop or Corel Painter is considered bit-mapped art, meaning that it is comprised of pixels. You can always scale this type of artwork down without loosing resolution but never up as the program will interpolate (guess and make up) the pixels in between the ones you are expanding.
- Vector - cartoon style (mostly), can be scaled to any size without the loss of resolution. Vector Children’s book artwork can be scaled to any size and not lose resolution as it is resolution in dependent. This is the same way that text is created. For example, you can scale text up or down and it will always print very sharp. Vector artwork is a mathematical type of art and programs like Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw as-well-as many other programs now widely available.
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