Illustrating an eBook

I’ve been working with author Julia Dweck on an eBook about dinosaurs. We’ve been having tons of fun with this book and it should be coming out any minute now. Here’s a quick behind the dino-scenes look at how to illustrate a dino-eBook.

Illustrating an eBook step 1:

This book is a based on a poem about dinosaurs.  The theme for this particular page was about a dino party at night. I wasn’t quite sure where to go with it so I sat down with my iPad and started sketching. As you can see my initial sketch is pretty rough but loosely blocking things in allows me play around, have some fun and not get too attached to the drawing. After trying a few different directions I decided to go with a dino-pool party.

Rough ipad dinosuar sketch by Bob Ostrom
Rough sketch done on the iPad

Illustrating an eBook step 2:

I was pretty happy with the rough so I printed out a version so I could trace and clean up. I work with super-cheap copy paper… mostly because it’s super cheap. Sometimes I go directly from the iPad to Illustrator but in this case I was having a little trouble getting the exact look I wanted. Whenever that happens I throw down a fresh piece of paper and grab a pencil. I guess I’m just an old school guy because pencil on paper never fails.

dinosaur pool party sketch by Bob Ostrom
The final sketch of the dinosaur pool party. Done it red pencil, scanned to photoshop and cleaned up a bit.

Illustrating an eBook step 3:

The next step is to drag everything into Adobe Illustrator and create the line art. It’s all done on layers because as you know there are about 37 different types of e-readers out there and they come in all shapes and sizes. That means we’ll probably need to shift things around to fill pages better when the proportions change. Having things on layers makes that A LOT easier.

Adobe Illustrator line art by Bob Ostrom Studio
Line art is created in Adobe Illustrator.

Illustrating an eBook step 4:

Once the line work is complete the illustration is colored in Illustrator and then assembled with text in InDesign. Even though I had roughed out the book in advance I thought this illustration looked better flopped. That’s the beauty of using tools like Illustrator and InDesign they are super flexible and allow you to make changes on the fly (of course depending how fussy you are that can be a double edged sword). You young whippersnappers out there with your fancy technology will not appreciate the magnitude but to us old timers being able to make changes as you go is something we used to only dream about. So that’s my story. From here it’s off to Julia for review then straight to production. If all goes well you’ll be hearing about the release of this book very soon. Thanks for reading.

dinosaur pool party illustration by Bob Ostrom
Flopping the final illustration using Adobe InDesign.

8 Replies to “Illustrating an eBook”

    1. Vicky, you’re 100% correct. There aren’t really 37 different formats. I exaggerated slightly for effect, but it sure would be nice if there were some kind of universal standard when it came to size and format. Oh well, I guess for now we’ll just have to work with what we have…

  1. Thank you for your tips here. Looks great!! I’ve just downloaded Kindle Previewer and hope to stick with the 1200w x 800h pixels for the Kindle HD 7″ device, even though I have an ipad2. Will you just start changing some of the pics, with another device in mind?
    I’ve also got InDesign, but don’t you have to go to an app with free fonts listed, to make sure you have an ‘ok’ one to use?

  2. After viewing this I do now feel that I Can produce the 30 illustrations I need for my 140 page childrens book. Thanks for giving me the confidence Bob. Wes from down under Perth W.A.

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