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Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books

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To create a good picture book or story book, you must understand how the two differ in concept. A story book tells a story with words. Although the pictures amplify it, the story can be understood without them. The pictures have an auxiliary role, because the words themselves contain images. In contrast, a true picture book tells a story mainly or entirely with pictures.


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To create a good picture book or story book, you must understand how the two differ in concept. A story book tells a story with words. Although the pictures amplify it, the story can be understood without them. The pictures have an auxiliary role, because the words themselves contain images. In contrast, a true picture book tells a story mainly or entirely with pictures.

30 review for Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristl

    Uri Shulevitz, himself a children's book illustrator, shows us, through a variety of techniques and examples, how and why picture books are picture books. A mix of art technique and a survey children's book illustration, this book is ideal for anyone who is interested in how picture books work so well to tell a story with such few words (hint: the pictures are more important than the words).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Huda

    I began reading this book for a certain purpose, even though the project was cancelled, I was eager to complete it. Here's a book that will defiantly help any 1 who is interested in writing / illustrating children's books Well , the author asked at the beginning; "Is your book happy??" cause that what really matters! Then, he started telling what help u decide wither your book is happy or not. And at the end, he stated a quote : "Instructions does not pr I began reading this book for a certain purpose, even though the project was cancelled, I was eager to complete it. Here's a book that will defiantly help any 1 who is interested in writing / illustrating children's books Well , the author asked at the beginning; "Is your book happy??" cause that what really matters! Then, he started telling what help u decide wither your book is happy or not. And at the end, he stated a quote : "Instructions does not prevent waste of time or mistakes; and mistakes themselves are often the best teacher of all" - James Anthony Froude As for myself, from the first glance at the book, I knew I would learn so much from it, and I "al7amdulela" did. Moreover, I felt sooo grateful to My dearest Dr. Nojood 4teaching me many of the concepts written in the book and to the sweet Mrs.Thuraya believe it or not? the printing part? I wouldn't understand it in a million year if you didn't teach it to me(= I started making my own collection of pictures four years ago, I didn't use them in my drawings but I guess I'll try something 1day(= I'm marking it as a favorite and will have my own copy Insha Allah

  3. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Anyone who is interested in learning how to illustrate for kids needs a copy of this book. Uri Shulevitz is a master of visual storytelling, and covers all of the fundamentals of putting together a picture book that works-- for publishers, writers, and readers. One caveat: Anyone who is as new to the topic as I was when I read it should be aware: It is no longer necessary to do color separations of your work. (Thanks goodness) Just consider it a bit of fascinating historical information o Anyone who is interested in learning how to illustrate for kids needs a copy of this book. Uri Shulevitz is a master of visual storytelling, and covers all of the fundamentals of putting together a picture book that works-- for publishers, writers, and readers. One caveat: Anyone who is as new to the topic as I was when I read it should be aware: It is no longer necessary to do color separations of your work. (Thanks goodness) Just consider it a bit of fascinating historical information on the illustrating process, and be grateful you live in a digital era.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Patsy Parker

    I took a long time to go through this book only because I have been reading through so many other books at the same time. I like Uri's examples of how to actually do a layout of a picture book. Although this was written many years ago, the basic rules still apply. He shows how to do a dummy book and many examples of other people's art including his own which I don't care for much, but that's just me. :) If you are interested in writing and illustrating children's picture bo I took a long time to go through this book only because I have been reading through so many other books at the same time. I like Uri's examples of how to actually do a layout of a picture book. Although this was written many years ago, the basic rules still apply. He shows how to do a dummy book and many examples of other people's art including his own which I don't care for much, but that's just me. :) If you are interested in writing and illustrating children's picture books, you may enjoy this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bree Clausen

    I read this book as research in illustration my own picture book. I read about 10 books and this was the best. It covers all aspects of illustrating from composition to the flow of illustrations in the story board, etc. It was very easy to follow with picture examples to illustrate the concepts. This is the only book you need to read if you want to learn everything about illustrating a children's picture book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Davidson

    This is an amazingly thorough journey through creating picture books and illustrating them. Uri Shulevitz explains with illustrations and examples how a picture book is created from the beginning ideas to the making of the physical book. This is a book not only for illustrators but for writers of picture books because it gives a clear understanding of how to lay out one's story so that text and art work together in the best way. Every writer and illustrator of picture books would benefit fr This is an amazingly thorough journey through creating picture books and illustrating them. Uri Shulevitz explains with illustrations and examples how a picture book is created from the beginning ideas to the making of the physical book. This is a book not only for illustrators but for writers of picture books because it gives a clear understanding of how to lay out one's story so that text and art work together in the best way. Every writer and illustrator of picture books would benefit from having this book in their collection.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Earl

    A must read reference guide for any aspiring children's book creator. Goes into details about the importance of sequencing and creating dummies and will make you look at the picture book as a whole in a new even more appreciative way. The second half gets very technical in terms of the illustrating aspect of things. It may have been first published over thirty years ago but I can see how the advice remains relevant even now.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Great intro to how picture books are made from one artist. Since it's from 1985, publishing info is outdated - for example, the difference color versions are probably done on photoshop now, not by hand. Yet, it gives a friendly overview to a reader who wonders what goes into making a fun picture book for kids. It turns out that it's created by A LOT more artist's decisions than a person might judge by such short and simple stories.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    Have reread this book many times to see the drawings and the way to put together a picture book dummy and story and where to plan for the pages to sit and where to have the gutter or middle of the pages. And how to start and end the story. Lots of information and helpful with laying out the story and the illustrations. Recommend to all picture book writers even though it is not a current book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne Troup

    Definitely more geared to illustrators, however there is a nice section on book dummies that all authors should read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Beatrisa

    This is a great book. Effective writing skills. Just love it

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    Great all-around reference for the picture book format. His note about storybooks vs. picture books remains true.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jill Pickle

    A little outdated in the more technical aspects of bookmaking but overall a necessary read for illustrators and designers of picture books!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tandava Brahmachari

    This is a very thorough overview of all aspects of making a children's book, and you get the sense that the author really, intimately knows what he's talking about every step of the way. The many examples taken from his own work show his wide range of abilities in different styles of illustration particularly, so he's definitely well qualified. He also includes dozens (if not hundreds) of thumbnail drawings illustrating the different principles he describes. I would actually have preferred a hig This is a very thorough overview of all aspects of making a children's book, and you get the sense that the author really, intimately knows what he's talking about every step of the way. The many examples taken from his own work show his wide range of abilities in different styles of illustration particularly, so he's definitely well qualified. He also includes dozens (if not hundreds) of thumbnail drawings illustrating the different principles he describes. I would actually have preferred a higher proportion of "live" examples from more authors/artists, but the way this is set up it does at least get all the "theory" across very well. (More examples in color would also have been good.) The end of the book even goes into excruciating detail about the printing process, and how to optimize it by pre-separating your colors, and things like that. I'm not sure how out of date this is, given that it was written in 1985 and technology has probably changed a lot since then. I skipped most of it, anyway. But regardless, this book should definitely be required reading for anyone wanting to get involved with making children's books. Here's a passage I particularly appreciated, from his chapter on "Style:" "When you draw a picture with integrity and character, it will inevitably bear your personal style. In other words, let personal style flow from your work; don't let your work be dictated by style. Learn your craft thoroughly, so you don't have to think about technique. And forget style. Just draw the picture suggested in the words. Draw in a manner appropriate to the picture's content—this is more important in children's books than appearance, or style." I like the egoless confidence implied and conveyed there, and it's a good example of how he feels like such a trustworthy expert to be learning from.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Randy

    If he has not already done so without my knowledge, I hope the author updates this book in a new edition. It is sadly dated, at least in terms of the technology and methodology of publishing, but it is also an amazing text covering everything relating to writing and illustrating children's books (in an era when all editors seem to be telling authors to stay away from doing their own illustrations). Book binding, printing methods, artists' materials/media, story construction, figure drawing, work If he has not already done so without my knowledge, I hope the author updates this book in a new edition. It is sadly dated, at least in terms of the technology and methodology of publishing, but it is also an amazing text covering everything relating to writing and illustrating children's books (in an era when all editors seem to be telling authors to stay away from doing their own illustrations). Book binding, printing methods, artists' materials/media, story construction, figure drawing, working methods--it's all here in abundance, so rich in detail that it's perhaps even too much abundance. Since reading this I've been drawn to his picture books--those discussed here and those he's done since--and they are also all top notch. I can now almost see his brain working as I read them.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Illustrated with dozens (if not hundreds) of Shulevitz's own doodles and cartoons to bring his points to life. Great tips and exercises for artists, but what I (as a picture book reader) will go over again and again are his chapters on sequence, action, content, space & composition. The chapters on color separation and prepress are obsolete, but this book is still worth its weight in gold. And still in print!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    From about the time I learned how to write, I've dreamed of writing and illustrating children's books. So far, I've done neither, BUT if I ever try, this book is going to be one of my best resources. Uri Shulevitz is an accomplished children's literature author and illustrator, and he gives very practical advice on picture composition, book layout, and just about anything else you can think of to assist the aspiring author/illustrator.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    A very thorough and indepth look at every aspect of illustrating picture books. Great information for ANYONE interested in producing a picture book. Keep in mind this book was originally published several decades ago and much of the printing info at the end is outdated. Read it for a nice history lesson, or to gain a solid appreciation for modern printing.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I re-read this book. My interest in children's book illustration has evolved and I am inspired by Shulevitz and his careful and logical approach to creating a picture/story book. The concept of making pictures readable is essential for anyone doing illustrations that require consistency, continuity, and creative interest. I'm so glad I kept this on my bookshelf as a reference book

  20. 4 out of 5

    CX Dillhunt

    impressive, I have a master's in children's literature, I'm only now understanding, thanks to Shulevitz's clean writing & superb illustrations & copious examples, what it's all about, how to use pictures to tell, how pics are ancillary to story, how pic can tell the story & the words are more the sound track, best I've ever come across on this topic, useful, I think for all writers, all genres

  21. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    (*waving hand* This is not the review you were looking for -- just wanted to reminisce about buying this back around 1994 after my friend Debbie recommended it to me...and how I miss her and doing art things with her.)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Blake

    This is the classic on all the details of children's book illustration that we should keep in mind when developing the illustrations for a story. My suggestion is to review this book before creating a storyboard for a picture book and the flow and content of your illustrations with soar.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marik Berghs

    Classic book for writers and illustrators of children's books. Really helps a writer visualize how the illustrator works in their own language to support the writing and vice-versa. Excellent tool and great reading. Really a 4.5 star but it is dated in that there are so many great new books to add.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Misty Mcnally

    This is my number-one recommendation to anyone who wants to illustrate a children's book or write one for the very young. The instructions and tips given helped me immeasureably on my own journey to publishing a children's book, Santa's Scenic Valley Ride (2011).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nora Murad

    A practical book packed with information and advice for writers and illustrators alike. It was recommended to me by an illustrator, but I found it invaluable as a writer. The examples are numerous and well conveyed. A must-read and reference for illustrated book writers.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Miquela

    I learned quite a lot about the process of writing with pictures from this book and find it to be a very useful reference. However, I think a new edition is needed to take into account the evolution of print technology.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Really only fully read about half of this -- a bit was relevant really mostly for illustrators, and some of the technology was crazy-out-of-date, like preparing images for color separated printed. Good starting point, though.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bree

    Notes: interesting although out-of-date if this information was so 'obvious' as some folks think there would be fewer and better books on the kids' book shelf at the library

  29. 4 out of 5

    CynthyB

    This was a great help to me. Clear, with good illustrations and instructions.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelin Devlin

    And if I were an illustrator, I would have given it five-stars. A clear, basic text and the best explanation of what a picture book is that I have come across. Read early in your writing career!

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