• Jennifer Tremblay

What Equipment Do You Need to Write and Illustrate a Children's Book?

NB: Don't read this unless you are honestly considering writing and illustrating children's books! Or if you can't sleep and need something to put you to sleep!

So, what DO you need to write and illustrate your own children's books? I am by no means an expert in this area, but here's the equipment that I use and it seems to work quite nicely!

I use a XP Pen Artist 15.6, which is a digital art tablet that connects to your computer. It comes with a battery free stylus. The tablet alone is not sufficient to do your illustrations. It basically mirrors what's on your computer, and you can draw quite accurately on it. It has a really nice feel - pretty close to doing normal illustrations with a pen and paper.

My computers at the time were already obsolete and were Apples, so I bought a little refurbished HP EliteBook laptop. Windows 10 was a must so that I could write out the stories in Microsoft Word, then lay out my plan for each page in PowerPoint. As long as I don't save too many photos and illustrations, this little laptop is sufficiently powerful to work the illustration software.

What's a good illustrating software? My personal favorite is Adobe Illustrator. Once you get used to the logic, it's simple to use and you can add layers and layers to your drawings that you can re use and cut and copy to other pages. You can export your drawings as Adobe Illustrator files or as PDFs. However, if you have a lot of layers, the files get unwieldly (some of my pictures from The Sprightly Carrot's Dream are 48 Megabytes!). That's where Adobe Photoshop comes in. I import the illustrator files into Adobe Photoshop and save the illustrations as JPEGS. That reduces the file sizes to under 1 Megabyte on average.

Adobe InDesign is my software of choice for laying out the books, importing illustrations as JPEGs, and putting them into a format that can be imported into Amazon and Ingram Sparks. It uses similar logic to Adobe Illustrator and Microsoft Powerpoint to some extent, so was easy to figure out with their video tutorials.

And COFFEE. Lots of COFFEE! As a mom of 3 pirates, I do all my writing and illustrating between 4 am and 7 am on my days off and weekends. Did I mention COFFEEEEEE? After the 4th cup of coffee, wavy lines are very easy to make on the art tablet.

What's the total cost? Gulp.

XP Pen Artist 15.6: $399 CAD

Refurbished HP EliteBook Laptop : $500 CAD

Splitters, HDMI Cables, all that wonderful geeky stuff... $50 - $60 CAD

Adobe Illustrator: $29.39/month

Adobe Photoshop: $12.80/month

Adobe InDesign: EEEEEEK! $42.31/month if you're just going month to month- so only subscribe while actively writing the children's books! But it's well worth its weight in gold once your illustrations are done and you're ready to lay out your books!

If you read this far, congratulations! If you have any questions about any of this equipment, feel free to email me at and I'd be happy to help you.

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