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How Can I Illustrate My Children's Book If I Have A Really Limited Budget?

Illustrations in a children’s book are probably going to be your biggest expense, especially if you’re writing a picture book, as they are really picture-heavy. For a proper illustrator (no AI art or clip art please) you’ll be looking to spend anything up to a few thousand pounds. Unless you’re B.J. Novak and can successfully produce a book without pictures, you might find you need to get a little creative. And I must admit, I love a little out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to illustrations!

Illustrate the book yourself

You don’t need to be a professional illustrator to illustrate a book. You can learn! This is

exactly what I did with a few of my books. I bought Procreate on the iPad, which was about £9.99 as a one-off cost (absolute bargain if you ask me!) and I watched loads of YouTube videos on using Procreate as a beginner. Slowly, slowly, I became more confident with the layers and the different types of brushes. I still have loads to learn, but Procreate is so user-friendly, and I absolutely love having creative control over my projects. For anyone reading this thinking ‘But I really can’t draw!’, just give it a go! Honestly. There are so many different styles of children’s book illustrations, I’m sure you can create something beautiful that children will enjoy and relate to.

Create your scenes

For one of my books, I made each character out of polymer clay, and each scene out of

cardboard and felt! It was a lot of work and took a lot of patience, but I must admit I loved it! Using a desk lamp for lighting, I got a family member to photograph each scene from many different angles so I had lots of different options to work with. I uploaded them to my laptop and manipulated them a bit, smoothing areas out and blending where needed. The result is a really unique book, and other than a few materials I bought, it was completely free to illustrate.


If you are really set on using an illustrator but don’t have the funds, a Kickstarter may be an option for you. I’ve never done a Kickstarter myself, but I have supported authors who have, and have seen some really successful projects, some that get funded within hours. If you’re not familiar with the term, Kickstarter is a popular crowdfunding platform that enables authors (and lots of other creatives) to raise money for their projects before they complete them. The funds are vital to the completion. As an author, you can raise money to put towards the illustrations, the cost of printing (if offset printing), or anything else you require funds for. The idea is you create your project idea, set a funding goal (the amount you want to raise, it could be hundreds or thousands) and a timeline for the campaign, such as 21 days.

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, so you have to raise at least the amount you

have set as a target in the time set, otherwise the campaign ends and you get none of the money. Individuals who pledge support, known as backers, receive rewards when the campaign is successful, depending on how much they have pledged. Authors tend to offer paperbacks, hardbacks, plushies, bundles, virtual author visits and more.

Kickstarters are really hard work and take a lot of preparation and effort, but they are a great way to raise funds if you are set on using an illustrator. One thing to note; you want your Kickstarter campaign to look really attractive, so you may need to fork out for a couple of illustrations and the front cover design before the campaign, so you can give the backers an idea of what the finished project will look like. I suggest you have a look on Kickstarter and see what successful campaigns look like, to get an idea before starting yours.

However you decide to illustrate your book, have fun with it!

Naomi Wilkinson is a children’s author and has published over 60 books on Amazon KDP. She loves helping others achieve their publishing dreams. You can find her publishing course here. You can buy her books here.

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