Niko & Kate - hard copy proof approved and production is underway!
In the late fall last year I was contacted by one of my fellow Illinois SCBWI Illustration members who had a friend that had written a children's book and was looking for an illustrator to work with on this project. His full time business is storyboard work for the advertising industry and it has taken off and he just did not have the time to take on a book project. But he liked me and my determination and thought I might be a great fit with this author so he sent her my contact info along with a few other illustrators. She followed up with me and sent me the manuscript and I liked the story but had some suggestions. I was a little concerned (since I did not know her) about over stepping my bounds and making some suggestions. But then I thought if I do move forward on this I have to love the story and I also wanted to test the water a bit and see if she is willing to accept input and collaborate. And the risk paid off as she genuinely liked that I put so much thought into my reply and she could tell I was wanting it to be the best it could be.
At the time @Lee-White had not yet created the Making Money in Illustration series in which he warns of taking on book illustration from a new self published author. So when she offered the project to me, I of course said yes.
(Our agreement for those who are curious, included a flat fee for the work and then royalties on all sales. The flat fee was broken down into 25% upfront. The remainder due at the completion of the illustrations. And there was a kill fee also built into the contract should the author decide not to continue after a bunch of work was done).
This project has been a whole lot of work. I spent countless hours on it - some of which was getting over self doubts about being good enough etc early on and some because I am still kind of slow. So I may not earn enough back on this to have made it financially worth my while. But that said, I think it has already paid off in other ways because I treated this like a personal project and learned a whole lot about everything involved, as well as myself along the way.
It has been an absolutely fantastic experience and I am really glad I did it.
As I mentioned already, the author has been really great to collaborate with and has given me almost total creative control of the illustration and book design. There were a few changes requested along the way but honestly less than I had even scoped out time for.
This project really pushed me to come up with characters, environments, a "style" and so on.
I can see a tremendous growth in my work over the course of starting and finishing the project. And I like that I can use these pieces in my portfolio to give a nice representation of the type of work I can do now and it will only keep getting better in the future. The courses here have been invaluable in helping me get to the next level in my work and I am constantly going back and re-watching certain courses to keep improving and pick up on things I did not see the first time around because I was not ready yet. And while I have not been able to be as active on this forum as I would have liked I certainly checked it regularly to keep up with what all of you have been doing and pulling inspiration from all of your individual hard work and growth as well. Great community here.
Ok, so after researching and speaking with a few different book printing companies and distributors - she selected Print Ninja for the book production. And then Amazon Exclusive is going to handle the inventory/distribution etc once they are ready.
I really took my time going through the wealth of information Print Ninja has on their site for getting the book files setup, in the proper color space, with the correct dimensions etc. There is a lot there but once you start working your way through it, its not too bad. Just take your time.
The artwork was all created in Adobe Photoshop and the layout was created in Adobe InDesign. I referred back to this thread Print Ninja sent me some pictures of my book that @mattramsey had posted a few months ago. I found it really helpful to read about Matt's experience and also the advice Lee White had shared and I used some of those same tricks/tips as I worked on this project. Specifically printing out the pages on a home printer to check for font size and just general object size on the pages as it is easy to get lost on true scale when you are doing work digitally.
We had a really nice rep at Print Ninja named Jeff who worked with us on the digital proof. It took a few rounds to get it completely correct as we had some odd CMYK/RGB conversion thing going on where the final files only had some of the images in CMYK even though the entire InDesign project had been converted to the proper CMYK color profile they require). Once that was sorted out we gave the go ahead on the hard copy proof.
It arrived on Friday and the colors and the quality were spot on. I am really glad I spent the time to get those CMYK color conversions right. I also used the Print Ninja CMYK recommended values guide to help select a few of the colors (such as the blue sky) to ensure they had that nice vivid blue which apparently can be tricky in the four color print process.
We gave the go ahead and the production is now underway. Will take around 8 weeks or so for them to arrive. So we are looking at them being available in November. Which is 11 months after I officially signed the contract to work on this project, so be prepared this entire cycle can take a while and plan accordingly.
@Rich-Green That is great! Congratulations and thanks for sharing your experience on everything!
Awesome records of your experience - thank you for sharing! And congratulations on finishing a big projects - and the pictures look great!
Very cool man, and congrats!!
Your illustrations are very eye-catching and nicely composed. The colors look great from the photo of the print. I always worry about them getting messed up when working in RGB and then converting, so often I worked in CMYK to begin with when I know I'm going to print. But I heard this was not best practice... What do you think?
Thanks for sharing your experiences on this. It was an interesting and inspiring read. It sounds like it was a good gig, and God willing a great segue into more children's book illustration projects!
@Rich-Green This is so great Rich! - thank you for sharing your experience - i especially like the illustration where the vine is creating a tunnel - really nice work - i look forward to buying a copy in November!
@Chip-Valecek - thanks so much!
@smceccarelli - thank you I really appreciate it!
@Shams-Nelson - thank you! I try and watch for the little "warning" box in the Photoshop color picker that will let me know when a color falls out of CMYK range. What I learned in this process though is that even if you were working in CMYK there would still be a conversion to the profile required by the print company based on their equipment. So even then you can see a shift in the colors if you had been working in the default CYMK color profile and had to switch over to a different one for print.
I am certainly no expert in how this should be approached but I feel like in all of the courses and online videos I have watched alot of illustrators work in RGB and convert - unless they are working in illustrator or doing their own artwork for silk screening etc.
Perhaps others with more experience can chime in and let us know what they do?
@Kevin-Longueil - really appreciate the kind words, thanks so much!
Congratulations @Rich-Green, this is fantastic news and well done on achieving all of this! You must be really proud (so much work to get this far!)
The final pictures look great, really punchy and well-designed. I like the cover in the final picture where it all wraps around the spine nicely. It definitely looks like you've grown as an artist while making this, must feel great to do that :-)
@Rich-Green Ohhh, that makes sense on them needing to adjust based on their equipment, so why not work in RGB in that case. Cool, thanks for the helpful info man!
Congrats @Rich-Green ! Thank you for sharing your process and the finished product with us, it turned out great. It's SOOO much work to actually finish a book, so that is a big accomplishment!
This is so awesome. Congrats on all of it. A book is a huge accomplishment. :)
@Dulcie thank you so much for the nice compliments. That you can see that I have grown as an artist is probably the best thing I could hope to hear! I really appreciate it!
@natiwata thanks so much! It certainly is a lot of work but it also is such a great reward to see it all come together in the end too!
@Pamela-Fraley thank you very much!