Learning to be a better writer and/or illustrator can be a tricky process. There are courses you can do, but a lot of the work ends up being self-directed, just you and your notebook or sketchbook, putting in the hours.
I’ve pulled together this list of books that have helped me along the way.
Roland Harvey’s Drawing Book
by Roland Harvey
I’ve put this one first because it was my bible when I was learning to illustrate. It’s aimed at beginners and covers everything you need to know to create visual narratives: materials, style, people, faces, bodies, animals, movement, proportion, composition, perspective, light and tone, and point-of-view.
It’s been around a while now (my edition is from 1996) but there seem to be some copies for sale online. If you want to be an illustrator, get a copy now while you can.
Making Picture Books
by Libby Gleeson
A brilliant guide to writing and illustrating picture books with advice from Australia’s leading creators.
It’s now out of print but you may be able to find secondhand editions online.
Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered
by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy
This book is aimed at reluctant illustrators of all ages. Sir Quentin has filled the book with fun illustration challenges will help you find the joy in drawing again.
The Encyclopedia of Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books
by Desdemona McCannon et al
A comprehensive overview of the genre that covers the market, idea development, visual and written narratives, non-fiction, media, techniques and professional issues.
(There are two covers available online; I’ve got the one on the left. I’m assuming they’re just different editions.)
Children’s Picturebooks: the Art of Visual Storytelling
by Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles
This book recounts the fascinating history of picture books and looks at key concepts and practices of the artform. Get this one if you’re super passionate about the medium.
Show me a Story: Why Picture Books Matter. Conversations with 21 of the World’s Most Celebrated Illustrators
by Leonard Marcus
This series of interviews reveals insights into the work practices of super successful writers and illustrators of picture books including Mo Willems, Maurice Sendak, Quentin Blake, Helen Oxenbury and Eric Carle.
Those are my favourite 6 books to help you make better picture books. Which books have I missed? Share your favourites in the comments.