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The Art Of Children's Book Character Design - Tips And Techniques

Character design is an important part of any children's book because it helps the story and characters come to life. If you want to be a children's book author or a professional illustrator, you need to know how to make characters that people will remember and relate to. Every part of a character's look, from the shape of their noses to the clothes they wear, can add to the story and appeal of a book. This article will go over some tips and tricks that can help you make the characters in your children's book more interesting. We'll go over everything you need to know to make characters that kids will love, from coming up with ideas to making your designs better.


As an artist or illustrator, you play a vital role in the creation of children's book characters. Your illustrations not only bring the characters to life, but they also help to convey their personalities and emotions. It's therefore important to consider how your artistic style and techniques can help to enhance the characters and make them more engaging for young readers.

One key aspect to consider is the visual style of your illustrations. Do you want to use a more realistic approach, or are you aiming for a more stylized or abstract look? Both approaches can work well for children's book characters, but it's important to choose a style that suits the tone and themes of the book.

Another important factor to consider is the character's personality and emotions. Children's book characters should be relatable and engaging, and your illustrations can help to bring these qualities to the forefront. Think about how you can use body language, facial expressions, and other visual cues to convey the character's personality and emotions.

It's also worth considering how the characters will fit into the overall narrative of the book. Will they play a major role, or will they be more minor supporting characters? This can help to guide your design choices and ensure that the characters feel cohesive within the story.

In addition to these considerations, it's essential to think about how the characters will appeal to your target audience. Who is the book intended for? What age range? What interests and experiences do these children have? By understanding your audience, you can create characters that will resonate with them and help to make the book more engaging.

Overall, the role of the artist or illustrator in creating memorable and engaging children's book characters is crucial. By considering the visual style, personality, and role of the characters in the story, you can create characters that will delight and engage young readers for years to come.


One of the most important skills for creating engaging characters in children's books is the ability to craft relatable and believable personalities. Whether your character is a mischievous fox or a determined young hero, it's key to give them a distinct personality that kids can connect with. One way to do this is by considering their motivations, goals, and flaws, as these elements can help make a character feel more real and complex.

Another essential technique for creating believable characters is to give them physical characteristics and mannerisms that match their personality. For example, if your character is clumsy, you might consider giving them exaggerated features or behaviors to help convey this personality trait. On the other hand, if your character is more reserved or serious, you might want to give them more subtle physical characteristics.

In addition to personality and physical characteristics, it's also imperative to consider the role your character plays in the story. This can help you decide on the right look and design for your character. For example, if your character is the main protagonist, you might want to give them a more heroic or sympathetic appearance, while a villain might have more menacing or intimidating features.

Another key technique for creating engaging characters is to use body language and facial expressions to convey emotions and personality. By using expressive facial features and postures, you can help bring your character to life and make them more relatable to readers.

Don't be afraid to experiment with different design elements and techniques when creating your characters. This can help you find the right balance of realism and fantasy, and it can also help you capture the unique personality and style of your characters.

Finally, it's important to remember that character design is an ongoing process, and you may need to make adjustments and revisions as you work on your book. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback and make changes as needed to ensure that your characters are the best they can be.


Character design plays a crucial role in the success of a children's book. A well-designed character can bring a story to life, helping to engage and captivate young readers. But what makes for a great character design, and how can it enhance and complement the story being told?

One important aspect of character design is visual style. The way a character looks should be appropriate for the story being told and the target age group. For example, a character in a picture book for toddlers might be designed with simpler, more rounded shapes and bright, bold colors, while a character in a middle grade novel might be more detailed and realistically rendered.

Another key factor to consider when designing children's book characters is personality. A character's appearance should reflect their personality and role in the story. For example, a mischievous character might have a more playful and energetic design, while a wise and knowledgeable character might have a more serious and dignified appearance.

In addition to visual style and personality, it's mandatory to consider the emotions of a character and how these can be conveyed through design. A character's facial expressions, body language, and wardrobe can all be used to communicate their feelings and help bring the story to life.

It's also worth considering the cultural context in which the story is set, and how this can be reflected in character design. For example, if the story takes place in a specific country or region, it can be helpful to research traditional clothing and other cultural elements that can be incorporated into the character design.

In the end, the art of children's book character design is about finding the right balance between visual style, personality, and emotion to bring characters to life and enhance the story being told. By considering these factors and taking the time to carefully craft each character, you can create memorable and beloved characters that young readers will love.


One of the key elements of successful character design is having a unique and distinctive style. This can help your characters stand out and make your book more memorable to readers. But how do you go about developing your own character design style? Here are a few tips to consider:

Experiment with different art styles and techniques. Don't be afraid to try out different styles, such as realism, cartooning, or abstract art. This will help you discover what works best for you and your characters.

Look for inspiration from other artists and sources. While it's important to avoid copying someone else's style, there's nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other artists and sources. This can help you find your own voice and style.

Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice character design, the more comfortable you'll become with different techniques and styles. This will help you develop your skills and find your own unique voice.

Don't be afraid to take risks. If you're feeling stuck in your character design, try something new and outside of your comfort zone. This can help you break through creative blocks and find new inspiration.

Keep refining and adjusting your style. Your character design style will likely evolve and change over time, and that's okay. Don't be afraid to make adjustments and try new things as you continue to grow and develop as an artist.


Research is a crucial step in the character design process, especially when it comes to creating realistic and believable characters for children's books. By conducting research, you can gain a deeper understanding of the characteristics and traits of the people or creatures you are designing, which can help make your characters more believable and relatable to your audience.

Here are a few tips for conducting research when designing characters for children's books:

Observe real-life people and creatures: This can be as simple as people-watching at a park or observing animals in a zoo. Pay attention to details such as facial expressions, body language, and physical characteristics, and use this information to inform your character design.

Look at reference materials: There are countless reference materials available online and in libraries that can provide valuable information for character design. This can include books on anatomy, costume design, and cultural traditions, as well as images of real-life people and creatures.

Talk to experts: If you are designing characters based on a specific profession or culture, it can be helpful to talk to experts in that field or community. They can provide valuable insights and help ensure that your characters are authentic and accurate.

Use your imagination: While research is important, it's also important to use your imagination when designing characters. Don't be afraid to incorporate your own creative ideas and personal touches into your character designs.

Don't be afraid to ask for feedback: Finally, don't be afraid to ask for feedback from others during the character design process. This can help you get a fresh perspective on your designs and identify any areas that need improvement.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your characters are realistic, believable, and authentic, which will help bring your children's book to life and engage your readers.


Color is a powerful tool in children's book character design, as it can convey a character's personality, mood, and role in the story. Choosing the right colors for your characters can make a big impact on how they are perceived by readers. Here are some tips for using color effectively in children's book character design:

Consider the mood and tone of the story. Different colors can evoke different emotions, so you need to choose colors that align with the mood and tone of your story. For example, bright, warm colors may be more appropriate for a joyful, playful story, while cooler, more muted colors may be better suited for a more serious or melancholic tale.

Use color to differentiate characters. If you have multiple characters in your story, using different colors for each character can help readers distinguish between them and keep track of who is who. You can also use color to highlight certain characteristics of a character, such as their personality or role in the story.

Don't be afraid to experiment. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to color choice, so feel free to play around with different combinations and see what works best for your characters. Just be sure to keep the mood and tone of your story in mind as you experiment.

Use color symbolism. Color symbolism can be a powerful way to communicate ideas and emotions through your characters. For example, red may symbolize passion or anger, while blue may symbolize calmness or trustworthiness.

Keep age and audience in mind. Different age groups may respond differently to certain colors, so you need to consider your target audience when choosing colors for your characters. You may want to use brighter, more vibrant colors for younger readers, while more muted, subdued colors may be more appropriate for older readers.

Use color to create a cohesive visual style. The colors you choose for your characters should work together to create a cohesive visual style for your book. This can help create a sense of unity and harmony throughout the story.


One of the main ways that character design can enhance a children's book is by supporting character development and plot. When designing a character, one needs to consider their personality, goals, and motivations, as well as how these traits will be conveyed through their appearance. For example, a character who is brave and adventurous might be depicted with a bold outfit and a confident posture, while a character who is timid and shy might be depicted with more subdued colors and a more timid posture. By carefully considering these elements, you can create characters that feel fully realized and relatable to readers.

Another way that character design can enhance character development and plot is through visual symbolism. By including specific visual elements in a character's design, you can convey deeper meanings and themes in the story. For example, a character with a scar might symbolize bravery or resilience, while a character with a crown might symbolize leadership or authority. By incorporating these visual symbols into your character designs, you can add depth and complexity to your characters and the story they are a part of.

In addition to supporting character development and plot, character design can also help to establish the setting and atmosphere of a story. By designing characters that are appropriate for the time period or location of the story, you can help to transport readers to the world of your book. For example, if your story is set in a medieval kingdom, you might design your characters with clothing and accessories that are appropriate for that time period. Similarly, if your story is set in a futuristic city, you might design your characters with clothing and accessories that are more futuristic in style.

Another important aspect of character design is diversity. Children's books should reflect the diversity of the real world, and this includes designing characters that represent a variety of different cultures, skin tones, body types, and abilities. By including a range of diverse characters in your children's book, you can help to promote inclusivity and representation, and create a more authentic and relatable experience for readers.

Finally, it's worth considering the overall aesthetic of your character designs. The style and tone of your illustrations can have a big impact on the overall feel of your book. For example, a bright and colorful style might be more suitable for a lighthearted story, while a more muted and realistic style might be better suited for a more serious or emotional story. By considering the tone and style of your illustrations, you can help to create a cohesive and immersive experience for readers.

To sum it up, character design is an important part of creating a successful children's book. By using character design to enhance character development and plot, establish the setting and atmosphere, promote diversity, and consider the overall aesthetic, you can create memorable and engaging characters that kids will love.


One common mistake in children's book character design is failing to give the character a distinct visual style. You need to consider not only the overall appearance of your character, but also the details that make it unique. This might include the shape of the character's eyes, nose, and mouth, as well as its hairstyle and clothing. Without these visual details, your character may appear generic and fail to stand out in the crowded world of children's literature.

Another mistake to avoid is failing to capture the character's personality and emotions through its design. A character's appearance should reflect its personality and help convey its emotions to the reader. For example, a kind and gentle character might have softer, rounder features, while a mischievous character might have sharp, angular features.

It's also mandatory to consider the age and cultural background of your characters. Children's book characters should be age-appropriate, and cultural sensitivity is key. It's important to research and understand the customs and traditions of different cultures to ensure that your characters are respectful and accurate representations.

A common mistake in children's book character design is not paying attention to the character's body language and facial expressions. These elements can be just as important as the character's overall appearance in conveying its personality and emotions. For example, a character with crossed arms and a scowl might convey anger or frustration, while a character with a smile and open arms might convey joy and friendliness.

It's also crucial to avoid making your characters too similar to one another. While it's natural to have some similarities between characters in a story, it's important to give each character its own distinct appearance and personality. This helps keep the story interesting and keeps the characters distinct in the reader's mind.

Finally, try to avoid using offensive or inappropriate elements in your character design. This includes avoiding racial stereotypes, cultural insensitivity, and other elements that could offend or harm readers. It's important to be mindful of the impact that your character design can have and strive to create characters that are respectful and inclusive.


A storyboard is a visual representation of a book or film, broken down into individual scenes or panels. In the character design process, a storyboard can be a powerful tool for sketching out and refining your ideas. It allows you to see how your characters will look in different poses and settings, and to experiment with different design elements such as clothing and accessories.

One of the main benefits of using a storyboard is that it helps you to visualize your characters more clearly. When you're working with a written description of a character, it can be difficult to fully grasp how they will look and behave on the page. With a storyboard, you can see your character in action, which can make it easier to bring them to life in your illustrations.

A storyboard can also help you to plan the pacing and flow of your book. By sketching out each scene or panel, you can see how the story will unfold and identify any potential problems or gaps. This can be especially useful if you're working on a longer book with multiple characters and complex plot points.

Another benefit of using a storyboard is that it can help you to save time in the long run. By sketching out your ideas in advance, you can avoid the need for extensive revisions later on. This can save you time and frustration, and help you to move more quickly through the character design process.

In addition to these practical benefits, using a storyboard can also be a fun and creative way to approach character design. It allows you to play around with different ideas and see how they look on the page, which can be a great way to spark inspiration and generate new ideas.

Ultimately, the use of a storyboard can greatly enhance the character design process for children's books. It helps you to visualize and plan your ideas, save time, and add an element of fun and creativity to the process. Whether you're a professional illustrator or an aspiring children's book author, incorporating a storyboard into your character design process can be a valuable tool for creating memorable and engaging characters.

By and large, the art of children's book character design is a crucial element in creating memorable and beloved characters. By considering factors such as visual style, personality, age and cultural background, body language and facial expressions, and avoiding common mistakes, artists and illustrators can bring their characters to life in a way that resonates with readers. It's important to keep in mind that character design is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating a successful children's book. However, by paying attention to the design of your characters, you can help bring your story to life and create characters that will be loved by readers for years to come.

In addition to the tips and techniques mentioned above, it can also be helpful to study the work of successful children's book illustrators and see how they approach character design. By analyzing the elements that make their characters memorable and beloved, you can draw inspiration and learn new techniques to apply to your own work. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out in the world of children's book illustration, there is always more to learn and discover when it comes to character design. With practice and dedication, you can master the art of children's book character design and create memorable and beloved characters that will delight readers of all ages.

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