How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

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During the last couple of months, Rebecca (our 9th grader) has been working on a project with another homeschooler. Specifically, she was given the job of illustrating a book written by a homeschooled author from another state. Today is all about How to Collaborate As an Illustrator and I hope you’ll gain some insight on how to start a project like this with your students.

Being Invited into the Illustrating Process

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

Illustrators are usually matched with authors by a publishing company. Sometimes, an author will choose an illustrator to work with, especially if they’ve worked the person before, but whether the author has published once or many times, it is usually the publisher who will pick an illustrator for a book.

We had a wonderful opportunity to meet with Anne Mazer, the author of, The Salamander Room and many other books including, Spilling Ink (a book she co-authored) which is book written for young writers. She came to our home to talk to our Writer’s Workshop group and shared with us how the publishing process works. Ms. Mazer told us how authors work with illustrators and showed us her galley copy of The Salamander Room. Galley proofs are unbound copies of a book given to authors, illustrators, editors, etc for proofreading purposes.

The kids in attendance were mesmerized by the stories of how her books came to be.

How to Collaborate as an Illustrator

In this case, Rebecca was chosen to be the illustrator after the author had been seeking an illustrator for a year. The author’s mom is Jamie from The Unlikely Homeschool and she asked for an illustrator young enough to work with her daughter and I knew Rebecca would adore the process of illustrating a book.

They’ve been working together for a few months on this project. I know there will be a post from the author’s perspective on the publishing process, so stay tuned for that. Today, I will outline how this process looks from the illustrator’s point of view.

Opportunities to Collaborate with an Author

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

When the girls first connected, as moms we took the time to introduce them to one another before they got down to the business of book illustrations. From there, it went like this:

  • The author shared with Rebecca her vision for the style of illustration she was looking for.
  • A copy of the book’s manuscript was sent to Rebecca.
  • Rebecca read through the manuscript and took notice of the book’s characters and the plot.
  • She began to think through what scenes would make good illustrations.
  • Weekly meetings were established so that they would work through the book together.
  • The author shared with Rebecca who the characters were and what she thought of how they appeared and who they were- this was a cool session watching as a mom. It was neat to see how the author envisioned her characters and how she wanted them portrayed in illustrations.
  • Rebecca worked up initial sketches of each of the characters to share with the author.
  • Since those first sketches, they’ve met just about every week to go over Rebecca’s work.
  • Rebecca makes a sketch which she draws in ink for the final illustration.

If you like to see authentic projects for your students to work on, this is a perfect project. The author has entered into the process of seeing her words come to life in a fully published book. Rebecca is getting the chance to collaborate with an author and share her drawings as part of the book publishing.

Whether you have writers or artists in your home, encourage your kids to publish!

Using Technology for Collaboration

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

Every week the girls meet to discuss Rebecca’s sketches and drawings along with the book’s next chapter and the new assignment. Since the girls live half a country apart, technology is an important piece of the puzzle.

  • Email was used to share the manuscript with Rebecca- She was able to read the book before getting started on the sketches.
  • Skype– This is how their weekly meetings are held. Skype is easy to use and allows them to talk real time with one another. Rebecca can hold her drawings to the camera for the author to see. Other choices might be Facetime (for the Apple users of the world) and Google Plus hangouts. The nice thing about a G+ Hangout is you can have multiple people on video with no problem. I think it’s nicer if you have more than two people meeting.
  • Scanner– This is how we will put Rebecca’s drawings into digital form before sending the final copies to the author.
  • Color Technology– Rather than Rebecca coloring her own illustrations, they’ll be using digital color set by the art director who will layout the book when the illustrations are complete. The author’s dad is an art director and has the expertise to do they layout for the book. We are looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Using these simple pieces of technology has opened up a world of learning which would have been difficult before. Not only can the girls collaborate, but the ability to self-publish has never been easier and it brings an authenticity to the project which can’t be beat.

Lessons for the Illustrator

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

This has been a great learning process for Rebecca. I asked her what has been valuable to her:

  • Listening to the author talk about her characters helped her to draw the characters with detail that depicts who they are and gives them distinction throughout the book.
  • She learned to draw in the style the author wanted by picking up a Henry and Mudge book and drawing Henry.
  • Rebecca had not really drawn people much before, so this has been an opportunity to practice and learn more about drawing people.
  • Choosing what will make a good illustration within a section of the text is a fun challenge for an illustrator and honing in on the items from a scene which might be important makes a great subject for her drawings.
  • Meeting weekly and having deadlines has been a great lesson in being ready!
  • Having regular deadlines means drawing often which is good for getting better.
  • Keeping a schedule and arranging on her own and keeping the appointments is a great skill and it’s been going well for them both from my perspective!

It is important to note that this is a unique experience for an illustrator. Most times, the author won’t even see the illustrations until the galley copy is sent. It’s quite unusual for an author to contribute to illustrations along the way.

If you ‘d like to learn more about the process, just read on how books come together and about the lives of illustrators. I love to see how much the illustrator familiarizes himself with the subjects in a book before illustrating or while he’s working the job. Garth Williams visited the Little House locations while he illustrated for the series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Robert McCloskey hosted ducks in his bath tub while drawing Make Way for Ducklings.

Resources for Studying Illustration and Illustrators


Artist of the Month Garth Williams– A study of this prolific illustrator and how he worked with the books and his drawings. Many childhood favorites are remembered through his depictions.

Five in a Row– Studying illustrators and their style of illustration is just one of the many aspects of art which are found in Five in a Row.

Eric Carle Art Lessons– My blogging pal at Harrington Harmonies has a great series on the art of Eric Carle. This is an excellent opportunity to work on the life of the illustrator along with his art.

Dr. Seuss Acrylic Art– by Tricia at Hodgepodge is a nice project with The Cat in the Hat.

Storybook Art– A fabulous book on the art of children’s illustrators. Not only are there biographies, but you’ll learn about the style of the illustrator and there are projects to try.

Illustration 101: Dovetailing Art and Words in Illustrating for Books– This is an overview of the illustrating process written by and illustrator for Craftsy. Rebecca’s been following the illustration posts there for over a year.

Hospitality and the Holy Imagination– This is a great post from illustrator Zach Franzen on how to honor others with your art. This one speaks to young illustrators and all of us alike in what it means to create art which points to Truth.

How Illustrations Nourish the Imagination– This is a free podcast from The Read Aloud Revival which features Zach Franzen, the illustrator of, The Green Ember.

This has been so much fun that Rebecca is seeking to collaborate with her brother, Ethan who is a writer. He is working on a new novel at the moment, but I’m trying to convince him to write a short story on time travel and Rebecca is eager to illustrate his prose. We’ll see where this project takes them.

Pouring into kids’ passions includes allowing time for exploring projects and authentic experiences. When they happen in your homeschool, make the time and enjoy the process!

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Free for the Summer at Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op

 Disclosure: I was compensated for my time in creating this post. All opinions regarding content are my own. Thanks for your support!

What’s your plan for the summer? Many families set summer goals which often include reading and keeping up with skills on some level. Wouldn’t it be fun to have some tools for the job? Free for the Summer at Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op includes free online access to a bunch of sites which offer fun, educational experiences to students. We’ve used several of these sites in the past and I’m looking forward to trying a few more during the Free for the Summer experience.

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Best Educational YouTube Channels for Homeschoolers

Best Educational YouTube Channels for Homeschoolers

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Over the last few years, YouTube has exploded with content made by experts in their field. Some of them are very talented at sharing concepts in creative ways. These channels are the reason it’s fun to make a YouTube Playlist for your students. Today’s post is all about the Best Educational YouTube Channels for Homeschoolers.

As always with internet content, previewing is a good idea. While many of these vloggers have great things to share, you want to be sure it is right for your family.

Math Channels on YouTube

Videos are a great way to enjoy math and these YouTube videographers have some fabulous content for us. Apart from curriculum math, I love the way these channels make us think about math. You’ll find everything from tutorials and instruction to current events and new ways to think about mathematical concepts.

  • ViHart– You may know her from Kahn Academy videos, but she has a style all her own. She has some fast paced videos which are sure to keep your attention and keep you thinking.
  • Numberphile– Just like the name suggests, this guy loves numbers and so will you after spending some time here.
  • Computerphile– A channel about all things computers. I know our youngest would adore this channel!
  • Kahn Academy– There’s a tutorial for everyone here! Math, science, languages, etc. These are individual videos, but on their website you can take courses as well. Our youngest enjoys the courses on computer science.
  • WowMath– This is a harder core lesson channel for high school math. Calculus anyone?
  • Professor Leonard– Another channel dedicated to math education.

This video from ViHart is all about the hexaflexagon. After watching it, our daughter made a bunch of them. Try it!

YouTube Science Channels

Science is an easy video topic with many science enthusiasts making contributions. If you have a favorite not listed here, please share it with us!

    • Mythbusters– Who doesn’t love this fun concept of busting or proving common conceptions (or misconceptions) in the physical world?
    • Vsauce– This guy tackles fun science questions like, “What is the speed of dark?”.
    • MinutePhysics– Fun physics videos that teach us why things are the way they are in the world around us
    • Periodic Videos– These are fun videos based on elements in the Periodic Table of the Elements.
    • SciShow– Fun videos on science concepts with an engaging format.
    • MinuteEarth– A fun look at earth science and conservation concepts
    • Veritasium– An element of truth. A look at science from the angle of misconceptions we may believe.
    • Sixty Symbols– Cool videos on physics and astronomy
    • How It’s Made– Our kids love this show! Now you can view episodes and clips on how everyday objects are made in factories around the world.
    • Cornell Lab of Ornithology– All things birds on this channel. If you are a nature enthusiast, then this is a great place to start.
    • Peterson Field Guides– Add a visual to your birding with these videos
    • BrainCraft– A show about neuroscience. Cool things to learn about our brains and the way they work!
    • ASAPscience– A weekly dose of fun science

Ethan, our 11th grader, suggested this video from VSauce to share with you. It’s a perfect illustration of the fact that many of these YouTube personalities talk about a variety of subjects. Just know that I grouped channels together reasonably well, but you will find these folks stepping out of their niche from time to time. While VSauce is mainly science, this video talks about language and how we use it. This is a fun look at words!

History Content Channels at YouTube

It’s easy to find video web content on historical topics, but it’s nice to have it all in one place. These are a few of our favorites when it comes to history and social studies in general. Sometimes you can catch full episodes of shows and other times, it’s only a clip.

  • CrashCourse– This channel has all sorts of subjects including historical and political content.
  • History Channel– You can find clips and full episodes of shows on the The History Channel.
  • Brain Bubble TV– Be smarter in 60 seconds. All kinds of questions and historical topics covered here. Probably other subjects too.
  • Mental Floss– A weekly trivia channel for knowledge buffs!

Tips for Using YouTube in Your Homeschool

Since most of us probably don’t need another reason for our students to sit in front of a screen, what are some ways to use YouTube effectively?

  • Sick days– You know those days when your kids aren’t totally sacked out, but they aren’t up for doing their regular school work? That’s a great day for a YouTube play list on math or science.
  • Traveling– Educational and reasonable when you have long road trips and you’ve played out the alphabet game
  • Waiting Time– I love to pass the time in doctor’s waiting rooms with a good math video. We’ve had quite a year of therapies and dr’s appts and this keeps the kids thinking.
  • Enhancement– Of a concept they are already looking at. Doing geometry in math? Find a fun video on Pi.
  • Inspiration– ViHart is a great artsy math example for our artsy daughter. She loves to watch math doodling videos and give them a whirl. It’s also good for introducing new vocabulary like, “fractals”.
  • Project Ideas– When our kids are working independently on their own projects, they can find help with a simple search.

Tools for Using YouTube in Your Homeschool

So, what do you need to get started using YouTube channels? Families are in different places with technology. Most people have a desktop computer, but not everyone has a mobile device. Here are some ideas:

  • Desktop Computer– There’s nothing wrong with saddling up and watching at the desk.
  • TV– Using a Wii which can access the internet. This is a great choice if you want a lot of people to see the video at once.
  • Tablets– Like iPads and Kindle Fires. If your family does not have a tablet, then I recommend the Kindle Fire. It’s a very economical way to enter the world of tablet computing and it’s a great product for internet consuming!
  • Mobile Apps– If you do have a tablet or a phone, you can use a YouTube App to view your playlists easily. I was even able to add to my playlists on my phone.
  • Playlists– If you want to have the lists of videos made ahead of time, then you can make a playlist. How to Make a YouTube Playlist is a tutorial on how to do just that!

How to Make a YouTube Playlist

Other Technology Posts at Blog, She Wrote

As I have become a user of some savvy tools in our homeschool, I like to share not only our experience but also how others can make use of the same tools. Enjoy some posts on technology in homeschool:

  • Managing the Internet in Your Home– All about how to use your router to filter content along with how to put access controls in place for your family’s devices. My husband Dan did a great job making this accessible to readers.
  • How to Make a YouTube Playlist– In case you missed this link and want to make customized playlists for school subjects.
  • How to Use Google Earth in Your Homeschool– Tutorials, lessons, and ideas on using this digital globe.
  • How to Homeschool with a Kindle– This page shares with you all my posts using a Kindle (both the reader and the tablet) in your homeschooling. Most people aren’t aware of all the features a Kindle offers. These have been invaluable in our studies.

What are your favorite YouTube channels? Please share them in the comments!

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