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?
The most expensive illustrators are well known and established best sellers. Cost is effected by experience, cost of materials, time it takes to create and how well known an illustrator is.
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.
There are two types of digital illustration, Vector and Bitmap. Most designers create your pictures in a bitmap program like Adobe Photoshop, while others prefer a vector style and use software like Adobe Illustrator.
- bitmap - realistic. can be scaled down in size but not up.
- vector - cartoon style, can be scaled to any size without the loss of resolution.