Workflow process/project management process?

  • How to work through a picture book project- Workflow: what is your workflow process/project management process?

    Awhile ago Jake did an Instagram story about working through The 12 Sleighs of Christmas or Who’s The Grossest of them All (I can’t remember… or it was a mix of the two), he did a breakdown from contract to finished book. He showed how he tracks his time in a chart and showed the book cover process. I was wondering if there could be a podcast or even a class about managing projects, a more in-depth version of what Jake did on his Instagram? Like how to stay organized with multiple projects, how you setup every project to make the best use of your time and stay on track.

    I know everyone will have a different way of working but I’m finding that this is the one thing that worries me the most about getting book assignments, not setting myself up for success from the start of the project. I really just want to know the best practices when getting a book contract from start to finish. I think this is something I never got in school, really knowing how to work through job and organizing yourself/process to stay on track and giving yourself deadlines so you can meet the publishers deadlines.

    I hope that made sense.

    Does anyone have this fear or have any tips or advice when starting assignments and having a process to keep them organized and on track to meet deadlines? Do you use an app or create a chart for each assignment?

    Oh, I did watch the Illustrating Children’s Books Part 1 & 2 and while watching Jake work through the book dummy was supper helpful I don’t think they touched on workflow much outside of creating art.


  • Bumping this up to see if I can get some input from @Jake-Parker, @Will-Terry, @Lee-White, and @davidhohn, to get their thoughts on the topic. If workflow has already been discussed please share a link to the thread, I would love to read it!

    Thanks everyone!

  • SVS OG

    Hi @Kekkerz86 I've always try to look for an alternate, but ultimately I end up going the route of thumbnails first. Laying down the look in a quick way but then developing those thumbs into a bigger book "dummy" of what size you want your picture book to be in. Take the time to design each page. In my experience so far, you'll be the designer mostly, than the illustrator/colorist.
    The dummy can be sketchy still and in black and white. After further look-over on your project you'll find some pages will be moved, edited, altered, removed, re-hashed, re-written, and tweaked (if there is text) but the dummy will allow an overall feel, and it is something to hold and showcase to others, and also good for portfolio.

    Find your color scheme, if it's painting you do...make lil batches of your colors in small glass jars to come back to. This way the color is consistent throughout and you'll be less worried about matching colors if you walk away from it for awhile.
    If you're digital, save your colors in a color palette area.

    No need to start with page 1, pick an area you think you can start with and just start. Connect the pages from there if you'd like but you can do page 15 before page 3 and so on. Consistency in look and feel is key.

    Keep your book in multiples of 8. Older readers? no longer than 40 pages (usually 32) younger readers no less than 24 pages.

    This is what I've come to learn in my time with research, SVS subscribed, and word of mouth.
    I've learned that no one will tell you where or how to start, you just need to start somewhere and learn as you go. Adjust, practice and repeat. On low cycle of course! lol

    Hope this helps a little.

  • SVS OG

    @Kekkerz86 The organization that I do that I forgot to mention is that I treat my week like I am in college. Tues Thurs say 6-9 is one project, M W F is another project/ sketchbook/ studies or research even. Sometimes I switch the days up. I block time out in my days is what I'm saying.

  • Pro SVS OG

    I think process is something very personal, and as long as you create one that works for you (which may take a bit of trial and error) everything is legit.
    My process relies heavily on the fact that I work digitally and I'm very familiar with the whole Adobe CC family - so InDesign and CC libraries play a big part. That would not work for everybody, especially if you don't work digitally.
    A few items I can suggest to pay attention to as you develop your own process are:

    • rigorous folder structure and file naming - however you want to structure and name your files, develop a system of folders and file naming and stick with it religiously. That alone can save you hours of time and make any other way to track your work pointless (for example, I keep my thumbs, sketches, WIPs and finals in separate folders - so I always know how far I am in a book just by looking at my folder content);

    • Backup. Constantly, and if possible in multiple copies.

    • Find a convenient way to transfer files. Wether it's Dropbox, WeTransfer, iCloud or any other system, you will need to send multiple and sometimes very large files back and forth and you need a convenient way to do that.

    • Work on the whole book at once in phases. Thumbnails first, for the whole book. Then sketches. Then color comps. Lee goes as far as to split the finalisation in phases and go through the whole book at each phase - I do that occasionally, but mostly I do the final render one page at a time.

    • I use one random page to establish the process. Sometimes I do multiple different renders of a whole vignette or a section of a spread and see which process works best and gives the result I want. I take notes of the chosen process (sequence of steps, brushes used, etc...)

    • I find I cannot really judge how much time a book needs at the beginning. I need to go through a few pages first, because I tend to be a lot slower at the beginning and speed up as I get used to the characters and the settings. After the first few pages are finished, I can calculate how much approximately each spread will take (each illustration is different, of course) and make a time plan.

    • When you have more than one project with similar deadlines, you have a choice: either you work on one project at a time and finish one before the other or you split your time among the two. I prefer the first, if possible - I find hopping between different projects jarring - but sometimes you do need to take a break and do something else. And then, of course, you sometimes just wait for feedback, and then it's the perfect time to do other stuff.

  • SVS Instructor Pro

    Not sure I can add much more, other than my good old whiteboard where I keep the delivery dates (bookmap, roughs, finished sketches, color studies, finished art) up and always on my mind. My biggest thing is to never allow those dates to slip! Especially the early ones. sometimes it means a working weekend or an all-nighter. But I've found (from experience) that staying on top of a book in the early stages allows for a more relaxed finished art stage. And that's the one that counts!

    I know that some illustrators are very calendar oriented, or they use post-its so that they can visually see how many have been accomplished and how many are left. Something like the image below. If it works for you then I encourage it. Anything that allows you to feel that a project is under control0_1528516947685_4d453d0c2cc4372af5a108fdbe2c50c8.jpg

  • @davidhohn I am impressed and humbled by this level of organized thinking.

  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @eli I know right?! We can all aspire . . .

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