Illustrations – What to Do?

Illustrations - What to do? Illustrations are often places where the independent or self-published begin to panic and wring their hands, and even decide to trash their project(s). Depending on the type of book you are writing, illustrations are an integral part of your book. Knowing that, let's step back a step or two.

First if all, your end product for any illustration needs to be a digital photo, which means you can scan or take pictures. It also needs to be at least 300 dpi (dpi stands for dots per inch). I don't want to get too technical, but I think we need to visit some technicalities. When you scan a photo or re-size a digital photo, you can choose a dpi. Often our programs will automatically re-size a photo along with its dpi. As we scale down a picture, then we are lowering the dpi. This is not an acceptable choice in a lot of cases, because we need the higher dpi to keep our picture from pix-elating or fuzzy. In most programs, you can simply change the dpi to 300 to boost it up to an appropriate level. Thus, your picture can be viewed easier and it will print well.

Now, let's look at some methods of illustrations. Pictures are very common, but often your book requires something you cannot photograph yourself. In that case, see if your friends can accommodate or go to a stock photo site, such as istockphotos or dreamstime.

The heaviest user of illustrations are children's picture books. I've seen a lot of different techniques used for picture books. Collages work well. I've even seen torn tissue paper illustrations that are absolutely beautiful and full of colors. With new technologies available, I read on one author's blog how she took photos  of the girls (who were her nieces,please don't take pictures of children or adults to use in any book without getting a photo release signed by the person or, in the case of a minor, by a parent) turned them into cartoons, and then added scenery behind them.

I have also made puppet characters to illustrate my children's stories. My newest method is making a small artistic quilt. The quilt is very much the base of the picture with some items becoming three-dimensional. Instead of thinking about quilts as pieces that need to be sewn together, think of a smaller size. I used 14-inches by 20-inches, which is twice the size of my book page of 7-inches by 10-inches. You can buy fusion paper, which is double-sided. Iron onto fabric, cut out your piece, then remove the paper backing and iron it onto your quilt. I lined my small quilt with a bit of batting and backed it with the same material as the front. It is finished with a blanket binding, which comes in a variety of solid colors. I embroidered some items, I even sewed yarn together for a braided rug. Some items are cut from felt, others are different fabrics, including solid and print cotton, as well as more silky polyester fabrics. Using fusion, hand-sewing, and fabric glue, almost anything can be created. I even combined a bit of paper into this quilt, because I placed an open book on the child's bed.

Photos of scenery are easily taken on family vacations. Add some characters on top of the photo and you could easily have an illustration for a book or, at the very least, a book cover. I did that with one recently. The book is not out yet, but I expect it will be soon. It is entitled, "The Aliens Among Us," and I drew aliens in a drawing program, imported a photo and made it the background. Think creatively,

No matter what medium that you choose, it really is the details that make the difference, especially in children's books. You don't want it so busy with stuff that don't match the story, but it's a huge bonus for kids to be able to play "I spy" with the picture as they explore all of the secrets that you've created in your picture.



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