January 4, 2021

Book Illustrations: Tell Your Story Through Artworks (Examples and Tools)


Book illustrations are more than just an art form to elevate the visual appeal of books. Here are few tools and examples to get you inspired.

Book illustrations are more than just an art form to elevate the visual appeal of books. They are great supplementary content that is instrumental in augmenting the written parts of the book. 

Many children’s books have illustrations to make the reader understand the context better. Early readers are able to associate actions and objects in the story with words. This gives the child a solid foothold for word comprehension and becoming a fluent reader.

Illustrations can also hold attention much longer to make the child move on to the narrative even without prodding. Book illustrations stimulate the imagination and heighten the perception of the narrative which can increase the sense of observation. For children with learning disabilities, an illustration is a precious learning aid to strengthen their understanding of texts.

As for promotions, an illustration is one of the best ways to heighten the selling point. It makes any product look more fun and relatable. It enables the audience to imagine and connect the visual image in real life.

In short, illustrations are helpful to enrich any text, especially books. Though words are important, book illustrations serve as supplemental aspects to gain a better understanding of the topic and bring the storyline to life. 

Steps to Create Unique and Beautiful Illustrations

Visual storytelling needs compelling illustrations. Move the audience with your narrative by creating stunning illustrations through this simple process:

1. Focus on Your Story.

An illustration is only a supplemental narrative and should not be the sole source of the story. You have to know the story as a whole. This means that you must be able to identify what the setting will be, the mood, the different situations that should be depicted, and other vital details. It would help if you would act the story out and take photos in order to be familiar with the expressions that you want the illustrations to portray.

2. Develop the Characters.

Any story typically centers on the main character. You have to draw the main character in different situations, bearing different expressions. It is also a must to also develop the supporting characters to be able to establish a connection with the main character.

3. Decide on Style Inspiration.

It is crucial that you determine a style that you want to achieve before starting on the actual illustrations. You need to find your strength so that it will be easier for you to work later on. You can do research about your favorite artists or the current trends in book illustrations. You can also practice with your chosen medium, like watercolors, graphic design, or line drawings. When deciding on a specific style, consider also the audience. Will it fit their preferences? Is your style going to be appreciated by a younger audience if the story is for that specific age group?

4. Start with a Storyboard.

Since illustrations are crucial to telling a story, you need to have a solid idea about what illustrations you will create for a particular scene. Having a storyboard will make this easier because it will serve as your guide as to what illustration to do next. You may make rough sketches for each page or take note of the details and colors that you will use. This is to help you create the most appropriate illustrations for every page.

5. Use Modern Tools.

Modern tools are used both by professional and non-trained illustrators in creating stunning book illustrations. There are tools, like DesignStripe, that have a massive illustration design library that can be edited to fit your story. Our tool is efficient at removing and replacing the backgrounds of the illustrations and is great with swapping scene details and more. All that you have to do is explore so that you can get the most out of our tool.

6. Layout the Final Artwork and the Text.

After creating your illustrations, the next thing to do is to lay them out with the text. You have to check whether the illustrations match the accompanying text. Are the expressions correct? Does it have the right background? Is the size appropriate? You have to figure out whether the illustrations blend with the narrative and are not telling the opposite or another story.

7. Ask for Feedback.

Whether from the editor, author, friend, or family, it is important that you seek feedback about your illustrations. It can be easy to ignore little details on the illustrations that actually make a huge impact on the story if you are the one doing it. The best critic is someone who will tell you honestly what is wrong with the picture. This is to give you an idea of how to redraw or edit the illustrations prior to printing the final output.

You have the option to hire a professional to do book illustrations. If you are going for a DIY route, this set of processes should be enough to give you an idea about all the things that you need to cover when illustrating your book.

Essential Book Illustration Tools

Illustrations are one of the many ways to communicate ideas that have been used long before the age of smartphones existed. It is also a simple and very accessible hobby that can also become a source of income. Whether you are a doodler or are aspiring to become a professional illustrator, it will be of big help if you are aware of the different tools of this trade. Here are the basic tools that you must be familiar with to hone your craft:

1. Pens and pencils.

Although there are many digital tools and apps that you can work with nowadays, there is no better way to practice with the basic ones like pens and pencils. There are many brands and styles to choose from but it really depends on the style that you want to achieve. Perhaps you would like clean and precise illustrations, so the best to have are mechanical pencils which have sharp edges in varying thickness. Or maybe you would have t get brush pens if you like to achieve a paintbrush effect on your illustrations.

2. Paper.

A fresh blank sheet of paper is another basic tool that you should have when honing your illustration skills. There are papers that vary in texture and brightness. It is also essential that you choose your paper well just like when choosing the perfect pencil or pen.

3. Ruler.

An essential tool to have when practicing illustrations is a ruler or any object that is flat and has a straight edge. It is the secret to creating perfectly straight lines and is very helpful when measuring for consistent sizing. Aside from a ruler, a compass or protractor is also important so that you can create crisp circles. You can draw without these tools if charming illustrations are the style that you want to achieve, but they can be handy if you are after precision.

4. Photos or any reference material.

You can rely on your imagination but it would also help if you have vivid pictures as references. They should inspire you to draw your own illustrations based on the style that you are going after. They can be photos that you took, everyday objects, magazine clippings, Instagram feeds, Pinterest posts, or anything that inspires you to create.

5. Flatbed Scanner.

Aside from converting your artwork into digital form, a flatbed scanner will also allow you to migrate your work across different photo editing applications. You will then have the option to enhance your hand-drawn illustrations so that you can use them for other purposes, such as printing them on shirts, or books.

6. Tablet and stylus.

Just like having a pen and paper, a tablet and a stylus work the same way, only digitally. These tools are more convenient for those who need to have their illustrations in digital formats. They are powerful tools that let you do your illustrations and upload them right away, skipping the scanning process.

7. Illustration apps.

Digital illustrations are so popular that there are hundreds of apps for it. It is fun to draw illustrations using pen and paper but there is a whole world out there, waiting to be explored when you do it digitally. These apps are meant to make the experience better, faster, and easier since you can easily make changes, update the style, or create a new illustration right away.

Seeing the different tools used by artists for creating illustrations, you can definitely see why many people are interested in learning it. There are many opportunities waiting for those who have tremendous talent at illustrating, like in publishing and marketing. It is also an exciting hobby that fosters inspiration and creativity.

Noteworthy Illustrations to Draw Inspiration From

Visual storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to teach. Illustrations help ignite the imagination and emotion of an audience that is limited when it comes to reading skills. This is why you have to include an interesting style for creating characters, backgrounds, and other details when creating illustrations.

Being able to create fascinating illustrations does not only give the story appeal but will also strengthen its narration. Get inspired and fuel your imagination to create your own with some of these best book illustrations:

1. Dragon Doctor.

Book illustrations

Dragon Doctor is a fruit of the superb collaboration of the artist, Felicita Sala, and writer Patricia Valdez, illustrations from the Dragon Doctor bring alive the story of a reptile-loving scientist. The whimsical style correctly matches the dreamy nature of the scaly animals and their hero.

2. Lumberjanes.

Book illustrations

As the illustrator for Lumberjanes, Noelle Stevenson used a warm palette to go with the story’s adventure theme. This was very effective as the supposed to be eight-part series became such a hit that it extended up to 76 issues.

3. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.

Book illustrations

Using negative space, like what Leo and Dian Dillon did for this book, is a unique style that gives the characters interesting outlines.

4. Cassandra Darke.

Book illustrations

Looking at the illustrations of this iconic Christmas-themed book, it is outstanding why such hand-drawn images look unreal but make the reader feel the freezing cold air. More than the cold atmosphere that is depicted on point, the cool palette also channeled the feeling of indifference of the story’s main character.

5. Last Stop on Market Street.

Book illustrations

Undoubtedly loved by the audience, this book is filled with paper cut-out stylized images by Christian Robinson. The book illustrations may look too simple but combining it with bright hues of crayons and paint gave them extra appeal, enough to win notable awards like a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book.

6. Knight and Dragon.

how to make illustrations for a book

What makes the illustrations in this book are the varied styles used by the artist, Andy Catling. It made the story relatable across different audiences.

7. Freedom in Congo Square.

how to make illustrations for a book

Illustrator R. Gregory Christie gave justice to this New York Times Best Illustrated Book title. The intricate illustrations show movement, perfect for the story created by Carol Boston Weatherford.

8. Cloth in the Clouds.

how to make illustrations for a book

A whimsical atmosphere is achieved in the illustrations of Alison Jay for this book. The style gave a dreamy dimension that is related to old book illustrations.

9. The Arrival.

how to make illustrations for a book

how to make illustrations for a book

Even without words, this graphic novel is able to draw out raw emotions because of the powerful illustrations.

10. Bus Stop.

design library

Ekua Homes is quite known for her vibrant illustrations that are inspired by African-American luminaries. Although technically, this is not a book, this art piece is an illustration that is able to capture the scene so well.

How DesignStripe Helps Your Create Book Illustrations

Young readers, and even some adults, sometimes find it difficult to get the gist of a story without visuals. Illustrations become a primary tool of communication for such instances. With illustrations, the reader is able to logically connect the story sequence thus making it more memorable and emotional.

Illustrations make any book more noticeable, therefore catalyzing its success. Book illustrations add another layer of narrative that makes the story seem more alive.

DesignStripe is the easiest way to create beautiful illustrations, with or without design skills. It is packed with simple and powerful tools to customize any illustration in order to make it fit the narrative. You get to decide whether you want the illustrations to be as minimal or complex, all while keeping the composition striking and staying on topic.