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Tips on creating illustrations for books

A book is only as attractive and appealing as its illustrations and stories. Whenever a person takes notice of a book, the thing that attracts them is the illustration on the cover, after which they proceed to go through the pages and find out if the book is really interesting. That is why it is so important to have interesting and unique illustrations to supplement the creative writing. So, let’s dive into some useful tips on creating illustrations for books.

Before going on to create illustrations, you must know some important points about the book you are about to work on,

  • The number of images needed for the book

  • The book and all of its characters, plots, beginnings and the endings

  • The size of the finished book

  • The printing options i.e. whether to publish it online, paperback or both

1. Make a Story Board

The first step in creating illustrations for books is to have a story board, which involves a lot of drawing and working with the author to figure out how to properly illustrate the story. For this, you need to sketch whatever you think is important to the story and to the reader. Only when the important parts are illustrated, will you get a proper sense of how to proceed and bring the book to life. The important thing to remember here is not to go into detail here but just get a basic idea of where and how to begin.

2. Crafting the Artwork

For creating the artwork, you need to have certain things in mind – the audience whom you are creating for, the brief you need to follow, and whether the artwork is in color or black and white. The artwork is the most important and vital part of a book. It gives wings to the reader’s imagination, and helps them visualize the main crux of the writing. Unlike before, an artist can simply hand draw the illustrations, scan them and send them to the publisher without having to be present at the publishing house physically.

An important part in creating the artwork is to have a physical as well as digital copy. Scanning the physical copy helps in editing it on the computer and making changes with the help of editing softwares as and how the artist feels fit. Digital artwork is a big part of today’s world as everyone is adopting to the virtual life, especially in times of pandemic. Sometimes, working on digital artwork is easier and faster than doing it physically.

3. Print a Book before Finalizing

Having a book printed out before finalizing it for mass production is always a good idea. It helps you see the final product and lets you know if there are any changes needed to the illustrations, along with any errors and mistakes that might have gone unnoticed previously. The approval of the publisher is also needed before getting the book printed. So it is always a good idea to discuss the final product with the author and the publisher before finalizing it. It is the final step before deciding to publish the book.

Some more tips to keep in mind when illustrating a book –

  • Besides having a unique cover, the spine of the book should also be given attention, as it is one of the first things a reader notices before choosing a book.

  • Illustrations are all about helping the reader connect with the writing, so you must keep in mind not to give away too much while giving the reader just enough to stir their imagination.

  • It is not always necessary to go for color; black and white works just as good, in some cases even better.

  • Another important factor in illustrating is giving importance to the typefaces used. Select a typeface that goes with the mood and the feel of the story.

  • It is always good to have references to get inspired from or practice on, for making your own sketches.

  • Besides colors, shapes and symbols are also an important part. Using these elements gives stimulus to the reader and helps the book stand out from other books.

  • And finally, whatever illustration you may choose to go for, it should be kept in mind that the sketches and drawings should always go with the theme of the book. Consistency and similarity are the main key points to keep in mind.

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The author of this title, Rohan Sarkar is a professional illustrator and is currently pursuing his masters in Toronto, Canada.


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