top of page

So You Think You Can Draw? The Wild and Wacky World of Children's Book Illustration


Ah, yes. Picture books. Those charming little things that keep our kids entertained and occasionally educated with their vibrant illustrations and heartwarming stories. I've had the pleasure of working on some truly colossal projects: over 90 illustrations of a folk tale collection that could easily fuel a lifetime of nightmares, a five-book collection crafted for the esteemed royal family, featuring over 70 meticulous layouts and illustrations in just three months, and a 71-page comic book for a local government that, sadly, never saw the light of day. So, trust me when I say I know what I'm talking about. But how do they come to life, you ask? Well, buckle up, Picasso, because I'm about to reveal the top-secret, ultra-complicated, totally-not-sarcastic process of illustrating a children's picture book, in 9 easy steps (because we're saving the elusive 10th step for ourselves, just like a well-kept secret).

Step 1: Get Inspired

(aka Stare at Blank Walls for Hours)

First things first, you need a brilliant idea. This usually involves staring at blank walls, ceilings, or screens until inspiration strikes. Don't worry; it'll only take a few weeks, months, or years. When it finally hits you, be prepared to drop everything and start sketching, lest the idea evaporates into the abyss of lost dreams.


Step 2: Character Design

(aka What Even Are Proportions)

Next, you need to design your lovable, relatable characters. This is the perfect time to experiment with different styles and proportions. You'll quickly discover that it's a delicate balancing act between creating something kids will adore and something that won't give them nightmares. Don't worry; you'll only redraw each character approximately 500 times before you're satisfied.


Step 3: The Storyboard

(aka What Have I Gotten Myself Into)

Now that you have your ingenious idea, it's time to create a storyboard. Divide your story into pages, and make rough sketches of what goes where. This is the part where you realize just how many illustrations you'll be creating. It's fine, though. Who needs sleep, right?