If you have been following my blog, you know that I’ve succeeded in getting my website up and going, and I’ve also developed tearsheets and a beginning marketing campaign to send out for initial publishing contacts. I feel good about what I’ve accomplished, and while I think my portfolio is pretty strong, all this time, there’s been this niggly little feeling that it could be stronger.
Now that things have slowed down just a bit, I’ve had a chance to re-evaluate my work and see where it could use some improvement–particularly in the children’s book department.
What do children’s book publishers look for in an illustrator’s portfolio?
In my research, I’ve found that children’s book publishers want to see four main elements in an illustrator’s portfolio:
- Expressive characters (multiple expressions)
- Character consistency
While I have illustrated children’s books before, and I accomplished those four goals in one style, I haven’t quite had the opportunity to demonstrate my narrative skill in the style that I’m currently pushing. In order to show narrative, you have to show you can illustrate a storyline. I don’t have a current “storyline” in the works, so I’ve decided to work with a traditional “Little Red Riding Hood” narrative.
Everyone knows the story of “Little Red Riding Hood,” so any publisher should be able to tell how well I can illustrate that narrative. There’s also plenty of opportunity for action and expression. I don’t plan on illustrating the whole story but maybe three or four action scenes. That should show my consistency in character, expression, action, and narrative.
Here is the first rough sketch. (I usually do my initial sketches with traditional pencil and paper, but this time I’m experimenting with creating my rough sketches digitally. This is my first shot at it. It’s taking some getting used to, but all-in-all, I think I’ll like the process.)
I’m going to add some more little animals showing alarm and fear, and I’ve also left room at the lower left to insert text for the story. This will be a two-page spread.