Advice: the illustrator’s job – storyboards and roughs

Here’s another response to a question relating to being provided with suggestions for the pictures or a storyboard by the writer:

This sounds terrible but I’d rather not ever have suggestions from the author on the visuals. The exception being something vital that is not mentioned in the story, but is intrinsic to it (like the character is in a wheelchair, or is a moose).

Generally, a story has to be divided visually into scenes that make sense – the writing is half the work, the pictures are the other half. Usually they have different roles to perform and the illustrator, the visual one, is best at working out that visual realisation of the book. Often too, it is not until the illustrator starts to rough out a storyboard that flaws in the story become evident – too many back and forth scene changes, too many concepts in too quick succession, too many words for the readership and the format, repetitions that serve no story function, unbalanced action (nothing happens for 90% of the book then everything exciting happens in only one sentence), too long, too complex for the age group…When I say they’re flaws – it’s not that it isn’t a great story – only that it won’t work elegantly in the picture book format.

There is nothing like putting it roughly into a dummy book to see, finally, how it reads.

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