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So You Think You Can Draw? The Wild and Wacky World of Children's Book Illustration

Ah, yes. Picture books. Those charming little things that keep our kids entertained and occasionally educated with their vibrant illustrations and heartwarming stories. I've had the pleasure of working on some truly colossal projects: over 90 illustrations of a folk tale collection that could easily fuel a lifetime of nightmares, a five-book collection crafted for the esteemed royal family, featuring over 70 meticulous layouts and illustrations in just three months, and a 71-page comic book for a local government that, sadly, never saw the light of day. So, trust me when I say I know what I'm talking about. But how do they come to life, you ask? Well, buckle up, Picasso, because I'm about to reveal the top-secret, ultra-complicated, totally-not-sarcastic process of illustrating a children's picture book, in 9 easy steps (because we're saving the elusive 10th step for ourselves, just like a well-kept secret).

Step 1: Get Inspired

(aka Stare at Blank Walls for Hours)

First things first, you need a brilliant idea. This usually involves staring at blank walls, ceilings, or screens until inspiration strikes. Don't worry; it'll only take a few weeks, months, or years. When it finally hits you, be prepared to drop everything and start sketching, lest the idea evaporates into the abyss of lost dreams.

Step 2: Character Design

(aka What Even Are Proportions)

Next, you need to design your lovable, relatable characters. This is the perfect time to experiment with different styles and proportions. You'll quickly discover that it's a delicate balancing act between creating something kids will adore and something that won't give them nightmares. Don't worry; you'll only redraw each character approximately 500 times before you're satisfied.

Step 3: The Storyboard

(aka What Have I Gotten Myself Into)

Now that you have your ingenious idea, it's time to create a storyboard. Divide your story into pages, and make rough sketches of what goes where. This is the part where you realize just how many illustrations you'll be creating. It's fine, though. Who needs sleep, right?

Step 4: Embrace the Art of Rejection

(aka It's Fine, I Didn't Like That Anyway)

Once you've got your characters and storyboard, it's time to show it to an editor or author. Brace yourself for their feedback, which will likely involve scrapping half of your precious ideas. This is where you develop a thick skin and learn to love the sound of "no." But hey, it's all part of the process.

Step 5: Finalize the Illustrations

(aka When Will This End)

Now that your ego has been sufficiently bruised, it's time to finalize your illustrations. This involves countless hours of sketching, inking, coloring, and perfecting each image until it's worthy of a spot in the hallowed halls of children's literature. Just remember, caffeine is your friend, and carpal tunnel is just a myth (spoiler: it's not).

Step 6: Print & Review

(aka Why Do Colors Hate Me)

With your artwork finally complete, it's time to print and review. This is when you realize that colors on a screen and colors on paper are two entirely different beasts. Prepare for several rounds of adjusting and reprinting until everything looks just right. It's not like you had anything better to do, right?

Step 7: The Cover Catastrophe

(aka You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover)

Oh, the cover! The one thing convincing kids to beg for your book instead of that shiny toy. Pick a scene that screams, "I'm the most interesting book in this whole darn store!" Let your characters take center stage. Prepare for the inevitable onslaught of feedback and revisions – because who doesn't love a good ego-bruising? Nail that cover, and watch your book leap off the shelves.

Step 8: Font Frenzy

(aka When Letters Steal the Show)

Typography – the art of making words look almost as cool as your illustrations. Experiment with fonts, colors, and placements, but keep it legible. You wouldn't want your book title to look like an alien language or a toddler's scribbles, right? Make your words sing, dance, and play nice with your artwork. After all, the perfect font pairing is as rare and magical as a unicorn delivering pizza.

Step 9: Celebrate Your Masterpiece

(aka Cry, Laugh, Repeat)

Congratulations! You've successfully illustrated a children's picture book. Take a moment to revel in your achievement, then promptly collapse from exhaustion. But don't worry, soon you'll forget all the pain and suffering, and you'll be ready to do it all over again!

So there you have it, the foolproof guide to illustrating a children's picture book. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, frustration, and the occasional triumph, but at the end of the day, seeing your artwork bring joy to little faces is totally worth it. Or so they tell me. Good luck!

Now, luckily for me, I've moved to the other side of the table – the production side. That means less illustrating and more producing (cue the evil laugh). As for you, dear artist, you'll have to carry on with the heavy lifting and climb your way up. Who knows, you might just be the next one to be judged by someone like me. I'll try to be merciful, but ruthless is more my style. Keep creating, and remember: it's all part of the thrilling journey through the wild and wacky world of children's book illustration!

Now, let's take a moment to thank the amazing artist Sara Gaiaudi for her patience while working on "Tale of Two Colors." We hope you're still surviving, Sara, because there's more workload headed your way! As for you, dear artist, keep creating and remember: it's all part of the thrilling journey through the wild and wacky world of children's book illustration!

And for those of you who haven't read "Tale of Two Colors" yet, trust us, it's a visual treat that you don't want to miss!

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