9 Tips for Concept to Revision Stages as an Illustrator


After receiving the client's project brief, the thrill of a new project kicks off with concept development, drafts and the subsequent rounds of feedback/revisions prior to the execution of final artwork. These ideation stages tend to have the most back and forth communication between illustrator and client. Here are some tips to help you navigate that process with purpose to professionally address the client's needs while igniting a synergy for creative collaboration.

1. Start with gathering basic production information such as dimensions, file format required, colour settings (print or web) and if layers are required for further workability. This will provide an accurate framework in which to begin initial sketches at the correct aspect ratio and dictates the illustration approach (conceived as a single composition or series of composited layers).


2. Review project brief again with client. Reference old works, ask for references to understand general design preferences.


3. Review scope outlined in the contract with emphasis on the level of artwork complexity, style, subject matter etc. Ask for supporting materials - photos, logos, text etc.


4. Aim to submit a smaller number of well thought out concept development sketches that you love instead of a broad sampling. This ensures that any potential ideas you present are genuinely something you would be excited and confident to develop further. Include a bit of explanation behind each concept and perhaps highlight differences between each variation for ease of comprehension.


5. For major reworking of concepts, verbalize new direction first. Send reference materials or request for visual samples to confirm your understanding. Maintain your professional attitude to take feedback constructively, with care and efficiency to keep the project schedule on track but also know when to ask for additional fees.


6. Once the concept is given green light, a slightly more detailed draft may be required. More clearly sketch in various elements. Give a general idea of colour palette, character design, composition, placement of text etc. I tend to keep it as black and white annotated sketch with some suggestion of colour or tonal value if necessary.


7. Provide a visual overview of all submitted drafts. At a glance tracking of all the feedback thus far. Also, puts into perspective the number of revisions instead of a number count.


8. Be proactive to suggest changes that you think will best meet client needs. As an illustrator not just merely taking instructions to respond to a brief. Value your unique creative visions - use it to fuel meaningful collaboration with your client.


9. Check in once again before the final artwork execution on client's usage requirements. Always draw for the largest reproduction size and find a work-flow that is flexible enough to accommodate minor changes on the final.


Thank you for reading till the end! I hope this was helpful to you and I would love to hear your tips too. Come say hi on instagram @natalie.illustration

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I am a children 's book illustrator based in Toronto, Canada!

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