How To Illustrate A Children’s Book
Illustrations are an excellent way to get the most out of a children’s book. If you want to learn how to illustrate a children’s book, learn to develop the skills necessary to appeal to young minds.
Illustrating a children’s book is critical because you have to produce images children can relate to and understand. If you are unsure where to start, this guide will take you through the illustration creation process.
If you are working with a publisher or author, read the manuscript thoroughly to understand the story and grasp their insight. Once you fully comprehend their vision, start creating illustrations for the book.
To come up with ideas on how to start your illustrations, look at lots of references, go on a trip to parks, watch wildlife documentaries, or do any activity that helps your creativity.
Check online sources such as Pinterest or Instagram for reference images. Doing these helps to create a mood for your storyboard and enhance the overall creative process.
Determine The Age Range Of Your Audience.
Children’s books are already a target market in itself. But you have to narrow it down to a specific age range.
Below are the different age groups and the basic types of children’s books that suit the given age group:
An Overview Of Types Of Illustration For Specific Ages
- Newborn to age 4 – Picture books with bold, large illustrations and vibrant, solid colors
- Ages 2 to 8 – Pictures books with bold and solid images with very minimal texts
- Ages 5 to 9 – Easy reader first chapter books, and graphic stories
- Ages 7 to 9 – Chapter books, fine drawings, can be solid images without complex colors
- Ages 9 to 12 – Middle grade, and short graphic novels, with more illustrations and dynamic visuals
You can use this guide in developing the illustration type for the book. The key is to identify the one that will capture a young reader’s attention.
Begin with the storyboard.
If your editor or the book author provided you with a brief, use it to outline how you should portray illustrations. Once you grasp how to illustrate the story, create thumbnail sketches and ideas for each page.
Children’s books rely on illustrations to tell the whole story. Getting the collection of thumbnails right at this stage of the process is essential since they make up the book structure.
Decide on an illustration style.
There are different ways to illustrate children’s books. Decide on the best style to use for your illustrations. It will help guide your artistic direction and create consistent depictions.
The different illustration styles are:
- Realistic. Realistic illustrations are genuine and accurate portrayals of life and objects created using a photographic technique.
- Cartoons. This style is typical in children’s books, especially those in the younger age range. It features drawings in various bold shades that give a striking look.
- Sketches. These are quick, rough illustrations that provide essential features without details. They often look unfinished but can convey movement effectively.
- Lines. Line drawings are illustrations with distinct straight lines or curves on a plain, solid background. These drawings depict form through lines, shading, and variations in density and width.
- Whimsical. This type of drawing portrays vibrant and playful illustrations often found in children’s books. Also called fantasy illustrations, whimsical drawings produce a dreamy, fanciful effect on the readers’ minds.
Pay attention to character development.
Children’s books always have the main character in focus in every illustration. Draw them in different expressions and various situations to ensure continuity.
Illustrate the characters in a way that conveys their unique physical appearances, mannerisms, and body language. Create realistic images that help young readers envision the story.
If you are working with an author or a publisher, seek critique from them before you finalize your artwork. You should have enough time to redraw your illustrations using the feedback as your basis.
If you are illustrating for a writer or an author, there will be several edits before approval of the artwork. If you are creating your own children’s book, there is more flexibility and creative freedom.
Determine your book size.
Children’s books come in all sizes. The ideal size often matters if you want your young readers to enjoy their reading experience.
Here are things you should consider to determine the proper trim size for your book.
- A children’s book can come in various sizes:
- Consider how you will lay out the words and illustrations on each page.
- The size of your book will determine the number of words that will fit on a page.
- The trim size of the book is a factor in the cost of your book. Printers often base their pricing on page count, usually influencing the overall cost.
- Think about your readers’ experience when holding the book. It should be comfortable in their hands and easy to hold.
Proofread the entire book after revisions and approval of the artwork.
During the final stage, obtain final rounds of feedback, and incorporate revisions and additional notes. Proofread the content to make sure it is in sync with the illustrations.
Check the illustrations for consistency to keep the readers immersed in what they are reading. Always refer to the storyboard and stay within the flow of the story.
Three Ways To Illustrate A Children’s Book
There are two options you can use to illustrate a children’s book.
- By hand
Depending on your skills, you can hand-draw or paint the illustrations. Take high-quality pictures of the images and upload them to your computer.
- By digital methods
If you opt for this route, there are several tools you can use, such as an iPad Pro, a drawing tablet, or a USB graphic drawing pad.
- A professional illustrator
You can hire the services of an illustrator if you want the images to be as professional as possible. Provide a storyboard and inform the professional how you want the illustrations done.
Why Illustrations Are Essential For Children
Illustrations alongside the text, such as in a storybook, help make learning easier for children. The images aid in the development of their skills and keeps their attention on the reading material.
Children have an instant connection with characters having visual appeal. So, books that use illustrations to tell a story encourage children to engage and interpret.
Learning to illustrate a children’s book is an excellent experience for your creative self. Whether you do it digitally, by hand, or with professional help, illustrations will go a long way in giving children an enjoyable reading experience.