Five Great Tips on How to Illustrate a Children’s Book

Gabriella Eva Nagy is both an author and an illustrator whose book entitled Enchanted Rainbows greatly showcases the unmatched power of colors and illustrations in stimulating creativity. Indeed, illustrations are a necessary element of books, most especially children’s books. Without illustrations, children will find it hard to read through a book because they have shorter attention spans compared to adults. A book with mere texts will less likely spark their interest than a book filled with colorful illustrations.

Therefore, aside from authors, illustrators are also very much needed in children’s literature. Illustrators are essentially artists who specialize in explicating literary concepts by providing visual representations that correspond to the content of the associated books. In other words, the main job of illustrators is to clarify the intricate concepts and ideas that are quite difficult to describe textually.

If you are one of those budding artists who aspire to become an illustrator for children’s books, then this article is right for you. Briefly discussed below are five great tips on how to illustrate a children’s book.

Sketch your ideas

The process of illustrating begins with generating some creative ideas first. Once you are done visualizing your ideas, you then need to sketch them nonchalantly. Doing so is especially helpful when you are working on book characters. Before you begin your actual illustrations, do some practice sketches. Start by sketching a section from the text that you are working on. Then, little by little, work your way around completing the details of your characters, from the shape of their face to the movements of their body. By doing this, you will find it quite easy to develop your characters.

Look at references

Many artists (especially the budding ones) use references. Arguably, using references is essential to creating great art. Of course, you cannot draw something believable without knowing what things look like. The same thing goes for illustrating for a children’s book. You cannot illustrate a picture that will effectively demonstrate the action or situation that a text is trying to describe without seeking the help of a reference. By using a reference, you will have an idea on how to compose and proportion your picture properly. With that being said, using a reference does not necessarily mean that you should hinge your picture on it. Doing so can count as plagiarism. Instead, you must only take an inspiration from a reference, but your work should still be your brainchild entirely.

Map the story

When illustrating for a children’s book, you will be required to draw not just one, but many scenarios. Because of this, it will be helpful for you to map the story beforehand. When you read the book’s story for the first time, play it in your head like a movie. Imagine each scene happening – what are the characters doing? Where is the scene set? What is its mood? By mapping the story in advance, you will find the flow of your illustrating process a lot smoother.

Create thumbnails

After you have read and thought through the story over and over to yourself, the next thing that you should do is to sketch out thumbnail ideas. Thumbnail sketches are basically quick and abbreviated drawings that serve as shorthand notes for illustrators. In essence, thumbnail sketching is a vital step in the creative process. It helps illustrators to fully realize their work by giving them enough room to experiment. More so, thumbnail sketching is where visual storytelling begins. It largely determines how the book is flowing.

Prepare a color sample

Colors are important in illustrations. They put life in these illustrations and create the mood for them. Mood simply means the feeling that people get when they look at a certain work of art. Different colors set different mood for an illustration. For this reason, it is important that you, as an illustrator, choose the right colors for every scene. Preparing a color sample will greatly help you in doing so. A color sample will let you know whether or not your chosen colors set the right mood for a particular scene.

To sum it all up, illustrating a children’s book is a bit of a long process. It takes a lot of brainstorming and sketching to come up with appealing illustrations that will fit perfectly to the book that you are trying to elucidate. Nonetheless, there is still a chance for you to succeed as an illustrator for children’s books for as long as you have the dedication to learn and improve constantly and the unconditional passion for creative work. With enough practice and time, you will certainly become a great children’s book illustrator someday, just like Gabrielle Eva Nagy.

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