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Steps for how to illustrate a children’s book

If you’re self-publishing a children’s book, you’ll either want to hire a professional illustrator or do the illustrations yourself. If hiring children’s book illustrators is not in your budget, keep in mind that it takes a lot of time in childrens book illustration. Whether you’re working on your own book or someone else’s, here’s how to illustrate a children’s book:

Look for creative inspiration.

When drawing a children's book for the first time, it's a good idea to draw inspiration from picture books that have won awards and from your favorite artists. To stay up to date on the latest trends, check out some new books on how to illustrate a children’s book as well. Whether your forte is stick figures, graphic design, watercolor painting, or line drawing, play to your strengths. When coming up with ideas, consider the age range and reading level.


Put your attention toward developing your character.

A primary character that appears in each artwork is a common characteristic of children's books. Draw this character in several settings and with various expressions; keep in mind that continuity is crucial, especially for beginning readers. This is the author's opportunity to send any art remarks or design recommendations for the character's appearance to the illustrator.

What hue is their skin? What hairstyle do they wear? Do they have a large space between their teeth, or buck teeth? What kind of clothes do they wear? Do you think your character's movements have an effect on theirs? (A character who is limping, for instance, might have one foot that drags a little behind the other.) This information is crucial for defining your character. Character sketches are an essential component of character development for children's books.

Make a storyboard first.

An editor, art director, or the book's author may send you a brief if you're working with a publishing business. This succinct description explains what each illustration should show. Children’s books sometimes feature less text; therefore, the images play a major role in narrating the story. Go through the entire book, making notes or drawings as you go. Once you've decided how best to depict the narrative, create thumbnail sketches for every page or scene in the book, in addition to a few more in-depth drawings and a color sample that represents the final design.

Ask for comments.

Whether you're receiving criticism from other children's artists, an art director, an editor, friends, or relatives, provide enough time for you to redo illustrations in response to the criticism. You can be more creative when creating your own book, but you might need to go through multiple rounds of editing while illustrating for someone else.

Thumbnail drawings

The most basic type of drawing is a thumbnail drawing, which often consists of just a few wavy lines. Fortunately, thumbnails aren't intended for art reviews, so appearance isn't as important. Where they go is what counts.

We frequently create thumbnail sketches for a book layout storyboard. An artist can better determine plot pace by creating a thumbnail storyboard. The designer determines where page turns should occur, how text fits on the page, and whether to include full-bleed, vignette, or spot art on a given page. This artwork is referred to as a "thumbnail" because it is frequently included in the book layout at a very small size, approximately the size of a thumb.

Rough drawings

Now that you have a firm grasp on the fundamentals of page layout, it's time to tackle tale illustration. The majority of artists start this process with a basic drawing. This is a crude illustration of the background scenery and figures. An illustrator can see how the design pieces fit on the page by creating a rough drawing. Rarely are rough sketches polished. The idea is to obtain a sense of the whole picture rather than to examine every little aspect of character or surroundings. Will the language make sense, do the characters interact in a way that makes sense, and is the situation interesting enough?

Rough hue

Some artists finalize page layouts and images before moving on to coloring their work, while others proceed directly to the final art. An artist can experiment with page colors with rough color without going too far in fine-tuning them. The characters aren't highlighted here. The sky appears one shade of blue, not several.

Arrange the text and final artwork.

Once authorized, you will arrange the artwork with the text. A book designer employed by the publishing company you're dealing with might put your illustrations and text together. You will need to handle all image editing, including layout, resizing, and book cover design , if you are working alone.

How do you illustrate a children's book?

TArt created expressly for a children's book is known as children's book illustration. Knowing the difference between an illustration for a children's book and a standalone drawing, such a landscape or portrait, is crucial. Illustrations in children's books have to adhere to specific standards, such as providing space for text, taking into consideration the book gutter, and using additional bleed while creating their illustrations.

How is an illustrated children's book made?

Every illustrator approaches illustrating a children's book in a unique way. Some children’s book illustrators start with a preliminary drawing and finish the piece. Some employ a more drawn-out approach for their illustrations. Involving several steps such as character sketches, thumbnail sketches, rough sketches, line drawings (or pencil art), rough colors, and final artwork.

The kinds of layouts used in children's books illustrations

Spot illustrations, vignettes, full-bleed pages, and full-bleed spreads are the four normal ways that book illustrations are displayed. Every single one of these has a distinct function when it comes to narrative. We vary the visual variety of the book. What exactly do these terms mean in the context of art?

Spot illustration

An artist creates a stand-alone piece of character artwork, known as spot art or spot illustration, which typically lacks a background. In illustrations such as this, the artist can emphasize a certain feeling or activity on a character without requiring additional elements surrounding the figure to convey the scene.

Short stories

On a page, vignettes are brief scenes. One frequently uses the other in tandem to display multiple story scenes unfolding simultaneously. One presents a sequence of acts one after the other as the most common use of vignettes. These enable the illustrator to mix multiple story moments onto a page by providing the page with the breathing room and white space that a full-bleed piece of art lacks.

Complete bleed page

A full-bleed page is created by an illustration that completely fills it. Highlights are typically emphasized against such elements. In order to provide white space and breathing room on a spread, full-bleed pages frequently rest against a spot artwork or vignette.

Spread with full bleeding

Double-page spreads, or full book spreads, occupy two whole pages. Picture books frequently draw readers' attention to their pages for highlighting significant events and narrative points. Should you choose a full-bleed spread just because it would make pagination easier, think again before calling too much emphasis to a scene.


To sum up, pictures are a vital component of children's books. They facilitate children's interaction with the narrative and help them become better listeners, readers, and visualizers. In addition to providing youngsters with a sense of confidence and control over the narrative, illustrations are effective teaching aids. Consider hiring an illustration agency if you're a publisher or author searching for children's book artists. They can assist you in locating the ideal artist for your book and guarantee the best possible quality in the pictures. For further information about how to illustrate a children’s book do visit our website Book authors hub.