Sunday, 6 September 2015

How to Illustrate Your Own Picture Book If You Can't Draw

You Can Do It!

I'm passionate about more writers getting their wonderful picture book manuscripts into print, but for many, the one thing holding them back from self-publishing is their inability to draw or paint. However, I believe that even if you don't have an arty bone in your body (which can't be true because otherwise you wouldn't be a writer) there are still ways of producing fun, powerful images that will make your manuscript sing. At the end of the day, have a go, and if it doesn't work out, you can always go down the road of collaborating with an artist. Remember, a lot of wonderful picture book illustrations are not perfect - their appeal is in their imperfection.

I Can't Draw

Here are some ideas for illustrating your book yourself if art isn't really your thing:
  • Ask your children/grandchildren/nieces or nephews to draw the pictures for you. Okay, it's not technically illustrating it yourself, but children's art has a wonderfully innocent and whimsical feel to it which may be perfect for your book. Spike Milligan had his kids draw a few pictures for his book Bad Jelly the Witch. In my book, Rabbit's Big Idea, Rabbit had drawn a few pictures for his big idea so I had my children draw his pictures. I wanted that genuine childlike style in the illustration which is almost impossible to replicate as an adult. Just make sure to get the parents' permission and acknowledge the artist/s in your credits.
  • Use collage. Simple shapes cut out in bright-coloured paper can be very effective. Eric Carle uses collage extremely well using painted paper, as we all know. Check out his book My Very First Book of Shapes, it's a great example of what can be achieved with simple shapes and lots of colour. Tell me you couldn't do something like that! Another great collage artist is Hanoch Piven He uses unusual objects to build his images and has been featured in Time and Rolling Stone. He confesses that he cannot draw, so he lets objects do the drawing for him.
  • Take photographs. Maybe your story could be illustrated with photographs. At Home With Tog: A most unusual rabbit by Sue Copsey is a gorgeous example (you can download the ebook from Amazon - This style won't work for every story, but it's worth considering. You can also do amazing things with photographs on Photoshop.
These are just a few suggestions, but I'm sure there are more. So get bold, get brave, and go for it! You may discover a hidden talent you never knew existed.

Happy illustrating!

Elise xxx

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! This post gave me some good ideas, especially because I'm trying to self-publish a children's book for my little sister in the coming month.