The thing about picture books is that they have to have pictures. Now I can draw a little, very little, but no one would ever mistake me for an artist, and I certainly couldn’t afford to hire one. You’re probably thinking that I must have used some pricey software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, but you’d be wrong. I know how to do about four things in Photoshop, not enough to illustrate a picture book. What’s my secret?
I created the entire book in Microsoft PowerPoint. Sound crazy? Most people don’t realize that you can do so much more with PowerPoint than just boring slide presentations with bulleted text and cheesy clip art. If you haven’t seen Ladybug’s Blue Flower yet and don’t believe me, just check out the banner on this page. It’s a slice of one the pages from the book and was done completely in PowerPoint.
Making pictures in PowerPoint is all about using shapes. Everything in my book, all of the characters, trees, clouds…everything is a collection of circles, squares, triangles, lines and so on. If you look at the flowers in the banner, they are just a collection of ovals. The bee’s antennae are free-form lines, and even his mouth is a standard autoshape. Whatever you do, don’t use clipart. It’s free to use in presentations, but it’s copyrighted, and using it for things that you sell is a big no no.
Once you’ve created your pictures, you’re going to need to save them as images instead of PowerPoint files. You can do this with the “save as” function, but unfortunately the resolution won’t be high enough for illustrations. I solved this problem with an add-on downloaded from a PPTools. As I’m writing this it’s $29.95 and totally worth it. You can save your images in several different standard formats and choose your resolution. I wouldn’t go less than 300 dpi.
Of course if you’re good with advanced software and have the cash, you can do so much more with Photoshop or Illustrator. If that’s not you, then for significantly less money, you can try PowerPoint. Of course if you have Microsoft Office on your computer, then you already have PowerPoint anyway! Just don’t forget the add-on to get the resolution you’ll need. The best way to learn how to do this is to just start playing with it, but if I get feedback from this post and people are interested, I would be willing to do a more in-depth post or something like a tutorial. I hope this inspires at least one self-publisher to give it a shot. Happy Illustrating!