7 tips for illustrating your first children’s picture book

Anya Kuvarzina
9 min readApr 30, 2018

I have always wanted to illustrate a children’s picture book for as long as I can remember. There is definitely something magical about creating your own visual world that you can share with others. Just over a year ago I had no idea how to go about illustrating a children’s picture book, and the thought of ever getting a book contract seemed improbable. Today I am writing this post as a published illustrator — my debut picture book “Make a Face” came out in 2017 with an incredible independent children’s publisher Pow!Kids, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Last year I also illustrated a lovely title for Scholastic Asia “Pete the Penguin gets lost”.

In this blog post I wanted to share the background story of illustrating my first picture book. Hopefully other illustrators who have the same dream of seeing their stories and ideas come to live in a children’s book will find this post useful. Without much more rambling, here are my seven revelations from illustrating a picture book, based on the lessons that I have learnt while working on “Make a Face”.

1. Show your work — get published!

Your first picture book commission can come to you in a number of ways. I received an email with an offer from my publisher while laying in bed recovering from a bike accident — true story. My editor discovered my work through SCBWI portfolio — and that was how I got my book contract! The easiest way to show your work to potential clients is to join a professional organisation such as SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators). Once you join, make sure that you upload a selection of your drawings into a “Portfolio” section. There are also other online directories for illustrators out there, but I found SCBWI to be the most useful and rewarding in terms of community engagement and work prospects. They also have lectures, workshops and meet ups globally, so it is a fantastic resource for illustrators-to-be. I find their regional Facebook Groups particularly useful, as it’s a great chance to connect to other published authors and illustrators. Other ways of getting published are to submit…

Anya Kuvarzina