Illustration Tips for Non-Illustrators (Kids’ Books, etc.)

I’m eyeball-deep in a project that’s requiring far more illustrative work than any book I’ve ever put out. As an indie author, though, art has become a big part of my work. Cover design, interior book formatting, even social media banners–it’s all a daily part of the working life.

For those who are trying to be more hands-on about their own book packaging, or even thinking about illustrating their own kids’ books, etc., a few tips:

A Convertible Laptop is Your Friend

I have a Wacom drawing tablet, which I’ve used for years, but can’t say enough about how much being able to draw on the screen helps. It’s not just about the pen on the screen, either. Being able to use my fingers on the screen to enlarge or shrink the image, being able to twist the image about to draw more easily, makes a big difference, too. I can also use my left hand to flick between pens and erasers and layers in my drawing software, while drawing with my right. It’s just been a godsend for workflow.

Clip Studio Paint Is the Best

I’ve written about Clip Studio Paint in the past, but every time I come back to it, I remember how much I love it. It’s affordable ($50 for a one-time download), and it has a ton of great tools–including 3D character maps as well as vector pens and erasers and line stabilizers that all make inking a far easier task.

But Don’t Expect One Program to Do It All

In order to finish my current project, I’ve been bouncing between Clip Studio, Photoshop, and InDesign. I use InDesign for all print book formatting. It’s especially important for this illustrated work. It makes easy work of formatting the final page-by-page design.

Find Joy in the Discovery

Remember how much fun it was to get a new box of crayons when you were little? Tap into that. Of course your first line isn’t going to be fantastic. If this is your first step into digital art, it will feel awkward and disorienting. But there’s also a great deal of fun to be had in learning about it. Get stuck? Watch a few YouTube videos. Go to a webinar or two. Join some digital art forums. Talk, ask, reach out. And enjoy the journey.

Got additional questions you’d like me to address? Comment here or reach out directly: hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

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