You’re looking for inspiring examples of children’s book illustrations — perhaps because you’d like to create your own.
Even if you’ve decided to hire a professional illustrator, you want to know what illustration style best fits your book.
Maybe you’ve seen some beautiful children’s book illustrations that left you thinking, “Gorgeous… but not quite right for my book.”
May those creative instincts, plus the inspiration from our list below, give you just the insight you need.
- What Are Different Children’s Book Illustration Styles to Consider?
- Where to Find a Kid’s Book Illustration Designer
- 21 Gorgeous Children’s Book Illustrations
- 1. Vashti Harrison’s illustrations for Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
- 2. Chaaya Prabhat’s illustrations for There’s a Hole in My Galaxy! by Ananya Dasgupta
- 3. Angie Siveria’s illustrations for Armando and Amira by Oskar Schuster
- 4. Aaron Becker’s illustrations for Journey
- 5. Molly Idle’s illustrations for Flora and the Flamingo.
- 6. Kadir Nelson’s illustrations for The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
- 7. Michaelea Goade’s illustrations for We Are Water Protectors by Carol Lindstrom
- 8. Katie Hickey’s illustrations for Happy: A Children’s Book of Mindfulness by Nicola Edwards
- 9. Maurice Sendak’s illustrations for Where the Wild Things Are.
- 10. Shinsuke Yoshitake’s illustrations for It Might Be An Apple
- 11. Sir Quentin Saxby Blake’s illustrations for Roald Dahl’s storybooks
- 12. Goncalo Viana’s illustrations for The Wizard of Oz
- 13. Rébecca Dautremer’s illustrations for The Secret Lives of Princesses by Philippe Lechermeier
- 14. Matt Ottley’s illustrations for Teacup by Rebecca Young
- 15. Elise Hurst’s illustrations for Imagine A City
- 16. Martin Handford’s illustrations for Where’s Wally
- 17. P.D. Eastman’s illustrations for Walt Disney Productions and Dr. Seuss
- 18. Dan Santat’s illustrations for The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
- 19. Patricia Polacco’s illustrations for The Keeping Quilt
- 20. Christian Robinson’s illustrations for Last Stop on Market Street
What Are Different Children’s Book Illustration Styles to Consider?
Whether you’re going for simple children’s book illustrations or something more elaborate or unusual, choosing an illustrator for your book starts with knowing more about the style you want for your story.
Here are a few to get you thinking of the possibilities:
- Bold and bright — using bold, vivid colors to create a feeling of liveliness
- Soft and delicate — using soft colors and graceful shapes to convey a peaceful or calm feeling
- Exaggerated or goofy — using exaggerated features and goofy expressions to convey humor
- Understated or moody — using subdued imagery and color to create a moody or sorrowful atmosphere
- Graphic novel — resembling comic strip or comic book-style illustrations (Marvel, DC, etc.)
- Manga — a Japanese illustration style used specifically for comic books and graphic novels
- Watercolor — using watercolor paintings or drawings for a softer, more relaxed feeling, which can be cheerful or subdued, depending on the colors used
- Vintage or nostalgic — using color and an illustration style reminiscent of books from decades past, possibly alluding to the story’s setting or the author’s heritage.
Where to Find a Kid’s Book Illustration Designer
Since most illustrators work as freelancers, outsourcing sites like the following are a good place to start:
- Fiverr — searchable outsourcing site
- Upwork — searchable outsourcing site
- Reedsy — database of vetted, experienced illustrators
- Illustration X — global illustration agency
- DeviantArt — artist community with a searchable image database
- ChildrensIllustrators.org — association of independent illustrators
One excellent way to find a children’s illustrator is to join Facebook groups for authors of children’s books and ask if any of them can recommend an illustrator.
Or, if you see a particular author’s book illustrations and think, “Wow! That’s what I want for mine!” you can reach out to them with some questions about their illustrator.
If possible, get their contact details, including the URL to their online portfolio.
21 Gorgeous Children’s Book Illustrations
Now that you have some ideas on how to find a talented illustrator for your book, we hope you find inspiration in this list, featuring some of the best children’s book illustrations.
1. Vashti Harrison’s illustrations for Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
Multi-talented author, illustrator, and filmmaker Vashti Harrison debuted her NYT Best Seller, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, in 2017. The image below shows the cover for a book she illustrated for author and actor Lupita Nyong’o.
Check out the Amazon preview of the book to see more illustrations.
2. Chaaya Prabhat’s illustrations for There’s a Hole in My Galaxy! by Ananya Dasgupta
Prabhat uses a cohesive, bold color palette and shapes to support the action and adventure and convey specific feelings in Dasgupta’s story for children. Check out his portfolio to see more of this artist’s gorgeous illustrations.
3. Angie Siveria’s illustrations for Armando and Amira by Oskar Schuster
Siveria’s classic children’s book illustrations for Armando and Amira use a sepia tone with detailed drawings to evoke an Old World feel that fits the story.
4. Aaron Becker’s illustrations for Journey
Artist and author Aaron Becker uses recurring visual elements (like lanterns and the color red) to enhance the illustrations in Journey, which is the first book of a trilogy. Visit the artist’s site for more information on his books and illustrations.
Molly Idle uses the color pink on simple, graceful shapes against a white background to convey a peaceful, intentional mood for the characters in her story, Flora and the Flamingo.
6. Kadir Nelson’s illustrations for The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
Painter and illustrator Kadir Nelson collaborated with author Kwame Alexander to create a book that conveys the power and courage of its characters as much through its illustrations as through its words.
Nelson uses a collage style made up of detailed and lifelike images of each character.
7. Michaelea Goade’s illustrations for We Are Water Protectors by Carol Lindstrom
Goade uses repeated waves and shades of blue to convey the movement and power of the water in her illustrations for We Are Water Protectors, inspired by indigenous-led movements across North America to protect Earth’s water.
Use the “Look inside” feature on the sales page to see more of Goade’s stunning illustrations for this book.
8. Katie Hickey’s illustrations for Happy: A Children’s Book of Mindfulness by Nicola Edwards
Katie Hickey’s illustrations for Happy use rich, nature-inspired colors and vintage ‘80s classic cartoon style for the characters. She draws readers into quiet contemplation of the present moment and the beauty around them.
See the artist’s Facebook page for more illustrations.
9. Maurice Sendak’s illustrations for Where the Wild Things Are.
Maurice Sendak is well known for this and other books he’s written and illustrated using his trademark style. Every illustration is a richly detailed work of art.
Author and illustrator Shinsuke Yoshitake uses detailed illustrations with simple character depictions and a warm color palette for this book, exploring all the things an apple might be behind its unassuming surface — or what it might become.
11. Sir Quentin Saxby Blake’s illustrations for Roald Dahl’s storybooks
Now eternally linked with the stories of Roald Dahl, Saxby’s classic illustrations reflect the era in which he created them (between the 1960s and 1980s). The images are fluid, colorful, and fun, like the stories they illustrate.
Visit the artist’s official website for more inspiration.
Viana’s illustrations use vivid colors and geometric shapes to create a glowing landscape and whimsical characters for The Wizard of Oz.
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13. Rébecca Dautremer’s illustrations for The Secret Lives of Princesses by Philippe Lechermeier
French illustrator Rébecca Dautremer uses intricate patterns and a vibrant red color scheme in her illustrations for The Secret Lives of Princesses. Dautremer’s portfolio shows an edgy style with hints of surrealism.
14. Matt Ottley’s illustrations for Teacup by Rebecca Young
Ottley starts out using soft colors to illustrate this story that begins with a sad but hopeful tone, with a boy who must leave his home and find another, and who brings with him a teacup of earth from where he used to play. Throughout the book, the colors convey the character’s mood.
15. Elise Hurst’s illustrations for Imagine A City
Hurst uses mostly black and white drawings, using red in some to highlight specific details. The main element in these images, besides their intricate detail, is Hurst’s imagination for fantastic “what if” scenarios. See the sales page for more illustrations.
Folks in North America know Handford’s character as Waldo, but the images are the same, using tiny images of people doing what people do in crowded public spaces. Each of the detailed images in the Wally/Waldo books takes several months to draw.
17. P.D. Eastman’s illustrations for Walt Disney Productions and Dr. Seuss
P.D. Eastman is best known for the illustrations he’s created for Disney characters like Mr. Magoo and books by Dr. Seuss/Theodore Geisel.
Dan Santat’s 2015 book, The Adventures of Beekle, won a Caldecott Medal. As an author and illustrator, he uses color and shape, along with his imagination, to create images that appeal to a child’s sense of wonder.
19. Patricia Polacco’s illustrations for The Keeping Quilt
Author and illustrator Patricia Polacco has written and illustrated more than 115 children’s books. She credits her cultural background for the ideas behind her stories and the style of her illustrations.
20. Christian Robinson’s illustrations for Last Stop on Market Street
Christian Robinson has illustrated books for the Sesame Street Workshop and Pixar Studios, as well as for his own books and those he’s illustrated for other authors.
His illustrations for Last Stop on Market Street (2016) use radiant colors and geometric shapes to represent a diverse, urban setting.
Over the last 50 years, artist and author Tomie DePaola has written and/or illustrated over 260 books. All his illustrations use the same warm, folksy personal style, rendering characters and backgrounds with heavy lines and muted earth tones.
Now that you’re better acquainted with some of the best children’s book illustrators, we hope you come away with a clearer idea of the style of illustration you want.
May the information above get you closer to finding the best artist for your book.
Where will you start looking today?