AKA Things I’ve learned. AKA Things I’m still learning.
Tip #1 Page Count!
When creating a Picture book it can be easy to get swept away in your story and begin piling on page after page, spread after spread in order to tell it. Truth of the matter is, Picture Books do have set page amounts and most likely aren’t going to change their ways to accommodate your epic yarn. Most picture books are 32 or 40 pages, and this includes the extra pages that you totally forget exist, such as copyright page, title page. My wild outrageous suggestion for all you folks working on a picture book; head over to your local book emporium and take account what books you like are doing and how many pages they contain. Books do go outside of the 32-40 pages sometimes (I think To the Sea is actually 48 pages) but I can’t really speak into how common that is. Best I can say is go get your hands dirty and dive into a bunch of books.
Tip #2 Never forget that sneaky Bleed!
No this bleed isn’t the type that vampires fancy. This bleed is the type that illustrators everywhere curse when they forget to include it. This bleed is the extra room you put around your illustrations to where the paper will be cut when printed. So if you have an image that goes all the way to the edge of the page, it ‘bleeds’ off the page (which sounds kinda horrifying). In these cases you need to create area around your illustration so when the book is cut you don’t have random empty gaps on the edges of your pages. Make sense?
I have learned through many a cases, to always ask ahead for how much bleed space to create around the images. This space can differ from the cover, to the interior, to the case cover.
DO NOT FORGET TO INCLUDE IT!
I can say from experience, it’s not super fun going back and trying to paint an extra ¼ inch seamlessly around all the images in a book… not...fun...at….alllllll.
Tip #3 What the hell happened to my colors?
I think most know this one, but when you paint on the computer, generally you are painting in RGB. When you print the file (if not already switched) it gets converted to CMYK. A lot of colors in RGB shift and can become more desaturated (less vibrant) in CMYK. I would strongly advise people to either make sure their file is set to CMYK when painting their illustrations, or keep checking how it will look when translated to CMYK (I know you can do this in photoshop by hitting command-Y). It can be a nasty surprise if you forget to do this and receive your color proofs only to find your pretty colors choices are not looking so hot on paper.
One extra note, keep in mind that illustrations and colours tend to print darker than how they look on your bright computer monitor. If you’re illustrating some darker images, just be aware and mindful of the images reading and possibly printing a touch darker than your paintings.
Tip #4 Things you don’t want to find in the gutter.
In the joy of painting and creating we can often forget that the middle of a page spread is a sort of no man’s land. Your layout with the character in the middle of the page turns into a sad scene as he sinks into the dreaded gutter abyss. When creating a full spread image be sure to remember any elements in the center of your illustration may be lost or eaten up by the ever hungry gutter. It’s pretty common sense, but I think we’ve all dealt with times where it got overlooked in the heat of sketching. I usually put a line in the center of my canvas, (where the gutter will be) when sketching so there’s no forgetting.
Tip #5 So wait, where do I put the text?
This last one is another common sense tip that get’s overlooked or left to be an afterthought far too often. When sketching out your dynamic and wonderful layouts or even coloring your pretty artwork, don’t forget there needs to be a place for the words! Make a point work in the needed space for your text in the early stages. It’s nice to see the text feels integrated into your pages and not jammed on top like a hasty bandaid.
There you have it folks! 5 quick tips/reminders to keep in your brain file cabinets. File em under ‘H’ for Hot book tips!
Now get back to planning, sketching and creating!