Can I Illustrate My Own Book?

Book illustrations are a vital component of children’s books, fostering imagination and aiding in their comprehension of the narrative. While professional illustrators demand a considerable investment and the process is time-consuming, the question, “Can I illustrate my own book” has emerged.

To determine the right path, several crucial considerations need examination. First, artistic skill plays a pivotal role. Creating illustrations demands a good understanding of visual storytelling and drawing ability.

Self-illustration can be cost-effective, but it’s essential to weigh the value of professional expertise against financial savings. Professional book illustrators bring experience, a polished style, and the ability to enhance the book’s visual appeal.

Moreover, considering the overall project timeline is crucial. If time is a constraint, self-illustration might prolong the book’s completion. Conversely, working with an illustrator means adherence to deadlines and a structured workflow.

In essence, the decision to self-illustrate or hire a professional depends on a delicate balance between skill, time, and budget. Both avenues offer unique pros and cons, emphasizing the need for a thorough evaluation before deciding on the book’s creative direction.

So, if you are thinking, “Should I illustrate my own book”, here are a few things that you need to look into before making the call.

5 Things To Consider Before Doing Your Own Book Illustration

Creating book illustrations is a crucial component of storytelling, as they visually complement and enhance the narrative. Before jumping into the process of illustrating a book, it’s essential to consider several key factors:

1. Artistic Skills

Do you have the skills to illustrate a children’s book? Not to question anyone’s capabilities, but illustrating a children’s book is something that requires a deep understanding of art. If you carry the skill and understand the requirements of art, and also feel that you can do it, then you must carry on with the illustration.

But if you are not confident enough, and feel like your skills are not as polished as they should be to meet your requirements, then you can always look into the market and hire a professional illustrator whom you think is a perfect fit for the job.

2. Time And Commitment

Art requires time and commitment. Illustrating a book is a long process, and it can take you weeks to come up with a single design if you are not professionally skilled for the job. Before you make the final call, we suggest that you look at everything and consider whether you have the time to dedicate to such a lengthy process.

If you feel you can manage both writing the book and designing the illustrations together, then go for it. But if there is a slight bit of doubt, then you should let a professional handle the book illustrations while you handle the writing.

Art takes time to shine
Art Takes Time To Shine

3. Budget

Hiring an illustration expert can be costly, so if you are on a tight budget, then doing your own illustrations seems like a good option, as you will not have to pay anyone, and that money can be saved for other purposes.

But keep in mind that illustration requires several things, such as art supplies and digital tools, which cost a handsome amount. So, we suggest that you look at both aspects of whether you should DIY it or hire a professional illustrator who already has those tools, and then make the decision.

4. Your Vision And Style

Imagine what type of art you want for your book. Now, envision whether your artistic skills will be able to match what you have in mind. We also suggest that you look into different art styles to see which one will best suit your book, and whether you will be able to create it.

If you think that, yes, you are skilled enough, and you can easily match those art styles, then DIY it is. But if you are in doubt, and feel like you are not as highly skilled to come close to those art styles, then you can look for a professional illustrator and hire them to create the art for you.

5. Professional Appeal

Lastly, you need to consider how well your book performs in the market and will your art skills be able to justify the book’s content. If you plan on marketing your book in the international market, then everything from the writing style to illustrations must meet the international standards of book writing.

So, if you think you can do justice to every word in the book and that your art will complement each sentence, then we support you with designing your own illustrations. But suppose your skills are not as polished as they should be to meet international illustration standards. In that case, we suggest you look for a professional illustration artist like Hancock Ghostwriters and focus on the other aspects of the book. To get started and determine the cost of book illustrations, read our blog on “How much does book illustration cost in 2023.”

Ready to enrich your narrative? Explore our professional book illustration services for that visual magic.

Everything You Need To DIY Book Illustrations

Now that we have discussed all the things that you must consider before deciding to DIY your book illustrations or not, and you feel like you have mastered each skill that is needed for the task, let us talk about how you can illustrate a book on your own. Here, we discuss the things that you will need to create highly appealing art.

1. Pencil And Eraser

You can use any pencil you like. Try to use a light pencil so your lines are not too deep. Also, make sure that there is a separate eraser in your arsenal. We suggest that you do not rely on the ones at the end of the pencil. A separate eraser will keep your sketches streak-free and clean and also keep the paper in good shape. Now, start sketching out your ideas for the illustrations. These sketches will be rough designs until you come up with something that makes you feel sure.

2. Paperclips

If you are using single paper on a board, then we suggest you use paper clips to keep the paper stuck to the board. You can also use paper clamps. They are not too harsh on the paper. So it is not stretched or damaged from anywhere.

3. Sketchpad Or Papers

You can either go all professional and buy a sketchpad to draw or you can simply buy a stack of plain papers and use them for your sketches instead. There is no right or wrong in that because the final sketches will ultimately be digitized. Just make sure that you use clear white paper. So it does not mess up with the colors once it is digitized.

4. Ink Pen

These ink pens will come in handy once you have the final sketches. You are going to sketch all of them using a black pen because no colors are allowed. You can also use pens with different tip sizes to avoid overlapping the sketches.

5. Light Table

Once you are done with sketching, you will need to trace it on clear paper to digitize it. We suggest that you use a slim illuminating pad. But you can always try it the old way, and trace it using the natural light, where you hold your paper against a glass, opposite to the sunlight, and trace it.

Or you can also take a large Tupperware box and place a light underneath it if you do not want to wait till the morning to do it. You can do it in whatever way suits you the best, and now you have a clear sketch of your illustration, ready to get digitized.

5. Graphic Software/App

The software is where all the magic happens. There are many illustration software and apps available online, such as Autodesk Sketchbook, Photoshop CC, Procreate, Clip Studio Paint, and ArtRage.

You can easily adjust the page size, clear the outlines, add colors, and even add different layers to the illustration with the help of these apps and software. Some of these apps are free, whereas others ask for a monthly subscription to unlock some tools, which can make the illustration process easier.

The Two Types Of Illustration Methods

At this point, you are about to begin your sketch. There are two ways to illustrate a sketch, and you can use either of them for your illustrations.

1. A-to-Z Illustration Method

In this process, you do the whole work on a single piece of paper. You roughly draw it, erase it, correct it, and even put the final version of your design on the very same paper. So, if you are going with the A-to-Z method, we suggest that you use the right size of paper to make sure that your complete illustration fits it.

2. Separate Illustration Method

In this method, you use different pages for each illustration, such as, you are going to draw the characters on one page and then use another one to sketch the backgrounds. It will allow you to use the background and the characters separately for other illustrations as well. You can simply digitize them and create multiple illustrations with them.

How Can I Illustrate My Own Book?

If you have made the decision that you are going to make all the illustrations yourself, then let us take you through the process. Here, we shall discuss every step of illustrating a picture, which you can later use in your book and for the cover as well.

So, you are going to start by sketching out a rough idea with a pencil, and then you will keep on adding different things to it, like backgrounds and character details until you feel like the sketch explains what your scene is about. Now that the rough sketch is ready, we suggest that you use a marker to outline the sketch and erase everything else that is not needed.

Practice Till You Master The Skills

Here, you have a finished sketch of the illustration. The next step is to digitize it and make it whole. For that, you will need to scan it and import it into a graphic software/app, whatever you find suitable. 

It is where the actual fun begins. You are going to add outlines, colors, and shadows, and there you have it. Your plain sketch is now a fully digitized illustration. If you want to add dialogue to the illustration, you can do it at the beginning or the end of the coloring. It is completely up to you. You can put the text directly or create a dialogue box to keep it from mixing with the illustration.

You also need to arrange the page size of the illustration according to your book. The most commonly used sizes for children’s books are 10’’ X 8’’ and 7.5’’ X 7.5’’ X 7’’.

Wrapping Up….

Illustrating a book is not an easy task, and if you are doing it for the first time, it will take you many tries before you succeed. So, we suggest that you stay patient and confident that you can create appealing illustrations. Always remember that the creative process is supposed to be fun. You have the liberty to try different styles and explore the endless possibilities of design.

But if you want to skip the chase, and focus on writing only, then you can always hire professional children’s book illustrators like Hancock Ghostwriters and get it done by the experts.

Create a world of wonder for young readers. Discover our engaging children's book illustration services.


1. Should I illustrate my own book?

Creating your own book illustrations depends on your artistic skill, time commitment, and desired quality. Assess your abilities, time availability, and budget to decide whether to DIY or hire a professional illustrator. Consider consistency, audience, and purpose to make the best choice for your book’s visual storytelling.

2. How do you illustrate a book?

To illustrate a book, start by brainstorming ideas and creating a storyboard. Then, sketch your illustrations, refine them, and consider the layout alongside the text. Once finalized, digitize or create final versions, ensuring they complement the narrative and formatting.

3. How much does it cost to illustrate a book?

Illustration costs vary widely based on factors like complexity, style, and the illustrator’s experience. On average, prices range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars for a full book.

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