Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Art Director Assignment

Art Director’s Assignment–Eastern PA SCBWI Illustrator Day 2020

Variations on a Theme 

Staying Consistent While Mixing It Up


If you’ve ever heard an art director speak about one of the chief things they look for when hiring an illustrator, you’ve likely heard this: “We want someone who can stay consistent and draw the same character throughout the entire book.” If you haven’t heard that before, take it from me: it’s important!

The assignment this year will focus on this, while also taking a look at how you can show readers key details about the characters and places you illustrate for a story. Giving visual information to enhance the narrative beyond what is written in the text is what makes an illustrated book special, whether your illustrations are in a picture book, a graphic novel, or alongside middle-grade novel text.


You will be creating a small series of illustrations that will occupy the space of a two-page spread in a book. To do this, choose from any of these composition options:

  • 3 vignettes and a full-bleed single page illustration
  • 6 vignettes
  • 2 full-bleed single page illustrations, OR
  • 1 full-bleed two-page spread illustration


These pieces should be created to fit a 10”x 10” trim; for a spread, your dimensions would be 20”x10”. Mind that gutter!

Your artwork may be done in full color or in black and white, but please stick to a level of polish that would be appropriate for a final piece in a book.

Submit your artwork as a jpg into the shared dropbox by September 9, 2020.  In the dropbox, create a folder with your name and save your file as last name_artdirectorassignment.jpg (torgan-randall_artdirectorassignment.jpg)


  • Choose a concept to illustrate, something that shows change. This could include ideas like: the time of day, seasons, weather, colors, moods, or even counting with numbers. You’re looking for an overarching set of ideas or a theme for your series of images.
  • Next, choose a character and/or setting. You may choose to work with your own original characters and places. Otherwise, you might take inspiration from classic public domain stories and folk tales (e.g. the Lion and the Mouse, Little Red Riding Hood, Princess Kaguya), or real life and history if your interest is non-fiction. Once you’ve chosen the subject of the work, you will create a series of illustrations that show your character and/or setting within the theme you originally selected.
    • For example, you could choose to illustrate a day in the life of a character, or maybe how a person might dress for different types of weather. Maybe you show how a neighborhood park is decorated for different seasons and holidays, or perhaps you show the effects of time or exhaustion on a character who is progressing through a journey from one place to another. You could illustrate numbers by showing more and more people boarding an elevator. The options are practically limitless!


  • Remember that the goal is to focus on making sure something in the series remains constant and identifiably consistent, even as the situation around it shifts. Your main character, for example, should always be recognizable as themselves. Their personality and unique traits should shine through no matter what.
  • As you begin to sketch, consider which elements you can change from image to image to show your theme and the specifics of the scenario. Color, lighting, expressions, details in clothing and surroundings- all of these tools will help you communicate.
  • Please feel free to explore your personal interests within the parameters of this assignment. There is a way to fit almost any style or topic into the project, and I encourage you to do so, so that you will produce work that belongs within your portfolio and which showcases what you want to do in your illustration career.

If, after carefully reading these instructions, you still have questions, please contact Berrie Torgan-Randall, EPA Illustrator Coordinator, at


Good luck!