Saturday, April 10, 2010

How much does a childrens book illustrator cost?

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. 
Please let me know if I can answer any questions;

Toby Mikle


  1. What about traditional media artists? I am an amateur in business so as an artist, I am looking to do illustrations for an author who commissioned me. This is both our first gig, so is there something beyond scanning that I should be aware of? Or does it matter?

    1. That sounds wonderful! Congratulations on the project. As long as you have a good scanner and can get the images to 300dpi (or better) it will be good for print.

      As far as rate, It would depend on what you are willing to work for, how long does it take to create each page. The first books I created I did as portfolio work for free. Traditional art takes a long time but can be amazing. I wish you the best!

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.