Art Approval Process: Children’s Books

Writing is a revision process. The illustration process is no different. Don’t feel overwhelmed by “the approval process” of illustrations. Your approval is the green light for an illustrator to dedicate time into a final masterpiece. Written input from authors and publishers allows illustrators to adjust images at various stages.


Below is a basic layout sketch. These layout sketches are done quickly and require minimal time and cost. From thumbnails to the final illustrations, each is generally scanned, manipulated, and sent for review. This dedicated time is beyond the illustration process. Provide clear written direction for each page to avoid back and forth with the illustrator.


This layout sketch is basic, no facial expressions and a general feel of the scene. Storyboarding may come to mind. Notes for this page were: Have the fairy eating a snack and reading a map, possibly on the roof or a branch. Show children reading books and make the moon glow.


Layout Sketch


Based on the “Layout Sketch Approval” This pencil sketch is updated with specific details on watercolor paper. Houses have siding, roses climb a trellis, and a fairy is resting on a branch reading a map. New details add dimension; however, the drawing isn’t 100%. A lightly sketched pencil image still fills the page.


Notes for the pencil sketch adjustments were: Add a flashlight. Make the children happy. Watercolor pencil is used in this book. Other books use either a detailed pencil or pen and ink drawing before colorizing the final illustration.


Pencil SketchPencil Sketch

This line illustration shows crisp details unlike the pencil sketch. In this process some notes are eliminated but will appear in the color illustration. For example: Notice how the moon was eliminated from the illustration. This is done because the moon is added during the watercolor stage along with other details.


Sometimes line illustrations are converted to coloring sheets or activity pages. Communicate with your illustrator before the art is colorized, if you require coloring pages. Also note, not all illustration contracts allow the reproduction of line illustrations. Most contracts only allow reproductions of the final illustrations.

Line Illustration



Four approvals later, the color illustration is complete. The moon is glowing and the once flat lined illustration now has depth. As you can see, the author’s and publisher’s input is needed not once but four or more times per illustration. A 32 page picture book is a fun and complicated labor of love. Created by a team for with readers in mind. I use this approval process to illustrate books my clients envision.


Color Illustration


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