SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Get to Know Our Illustrators – Cynthia De La Torre

 

To start off the year, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself so that you could all learn a little bit more about me – your new Illustrator Coordinator. 🙂

How long have you been a member of SCBWI? What’s the most impactful thing you have learned from being in SCBWI?

I joined SCBWI in 2016, shortly after deciding to pursue my dreams of writing and illustrating children’s books. I’ve gained so much from being part of SCBWI. Some of the most important things I learned were the value of critique groups, the importance of going to conferences, and, most importantly, how crucial it is to put my work out there.

 

 

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate? 

My illustrations are made with cut paper art. I use different types of paper, from vellum to cardstock and sometimes also incorporate felt. I love adding lights to bring life to my pieces.

What is your illustration process?

My process is pretty long, but, the more I work on my art, the faster I become.

1) Once I have an idea, I start sketching it down – the initial sketches are VERY rough.

2) I then go online and look up references for the different elements I will be including in my illustrations. I’ll often ask my husband or kids to pose for me.

3) I then start drawing the illustrations on my iPad. Using the iPad has been a huge time saver.

This sketch was made the old fashioned way, before I got my iPad.

4) I then decide on a color scheme. I add a layer of color in Photoshop.

5) I print out the different layers of my illustration on white cardstock paper. And I cut them out.

6) I transfer designs to colored cardstock paper, vellum paper, or felt and begin cutting. As I go, I also cut different layers, like the clothing, the arms, the legs, or the head. I then glue the layers together and add details, like the face or the folds on clothes. I use Prismacolor colored pencils for the details.

7) Next, I put everything together. This is one of the most exciting parts of the whole process. I make sure the composition is working, before I glue things down. I also add lights to a lot of my illustrations.

8) The last step involves photographing my piece. To ensure I get the best image possible, I play with the lighting. I also try different angles. Once I’ve taken about 50 pictures, I then go through them and choose the best one and I photoshop it to make sure there aren’t any bits that look odd. And then I’m done!

Final Image

How long have you been illustrating? How did you first get into illustration?

I’ve been illustrating most of my life. From the time I was 6 years old, when I wrote and illustrated my first book, I knew I wanted to do this for a living. The first book I wrote and illustrated was part of an assignment for school. Most of my life, I’ve written and illustrated different books, but it wasn’t until after I had my first son, in 2015, that I decided I needed to finally follow my dreams.

Are you self taught or did you study illustration? 

I am self taught. I did take some art classes in college, but they were all intro classes. Since 2016, I have been illustrating almost every day.

Do you have a dedicated art space? 

Yes, I have my little art corner in our home. It is in our dining room, where I can work and watch my three kids.

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

A book that I write. Ideally a spooky one. 😀

Are you working on any fun projects now? 

I am currently working on a collection of ghost stories. It is aimed for children a bit older than the picture book age. I’m also illustrating it. I’m hoping it will be published and I’ll be able to share my stories with children.

Do you write children’s books as well or have any plans to do so?

Yes! I am a writer and illustrator.

 

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

Work on your craft every day. And make time for it every day, even if that means waking up one hour (or more) early to work on illustrating. I would also recommend joining critique groups and putting your work out there – feedback from others is invaluable.

Joining SCBWI is a huge plus, it will get you in front of people that can help you reach your goals.

 

Do you currently have an agent? 

Yes. I signed with Anna Olswanger of Olswanger Literary Agency in October of 2020. She has been a dream agent to work with. She found my work at the SCBWI Summer Spectacular Portfolio Showcase and reached out to me. We communicated for about 2 months before she became my agent.

 

Have you had any books published?

Not yet. 🙂

 

Tell us 5 interesting things about yourself.

  1. I am obsessed with Halloween and all things spooky. My home is decorated in Halloween decor year round – I don’t know if I’ll ever grow out of that phase.
  2. I have 3 kids. A five-year-old son, named Sebastián. A two-year-old daughter, named Elena. And a 2-month-old son, named Leonardo. They inspire me all the time.
  3. I have a Bachelors’ Degree in Sociology and a minor in Spanish.
  4. My first language is Spanish – my family is originally from Mexico. I speak to my kids mostly in Spanish.
  5. My dream art space would be in a tree house. 😀 And my dream house would be a Victorian house, preferably haunted, but with a good ghost.

Where can people find more of your work?

Instagram – @CynthiaGDeLaTorre

Website – CynthiaDeLaTorre.com

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To see our Previous Get to Know Our Illustrators, click here.