This section covers information on how to assess and deal with your drawings and illustrations prior to importing them into your book pages.

The importation procedure is covered in Step 05 BOOK LAYOUT


Drawing and Creating Illustrations

If you are wanting to feature hand drawn illustrations in your book pages, there are a number of processes each illustration has to go through to get it to a stage where you can import it into the vector program and then fill it with colour, if desired.

In spite of the different styles you might use to create or draw an illustration you’ll need an original to scan or a clean photocopy of the original. Then you will be required to scan at 300dpi minimum and save it as a JPG file before you can do anything with it.

If you have quite simple drawings or concepts for illustrations these can be completed or even created within the vector program as it allows much smoother contours on the lines of the finished article. This can and will depend on your level of experience with a vector program such as Inkscape. If you go this way, your sketch for scanning can afford to be a little rough as it will be redrawn and your original deleted.

For example, you could have a black and white line art drawing or cartoon style illustration. Pencil sketches can be used, both in standard lead and in colour. Infact you can convert any kind of image into an illustration with the assistance of some very handy online editing and effects programs. The sky is the limit and believe me, the options will blow you away! It is recommended that you check out some of the free online editing programs out there before you start drawing. After all, you may be able to save yourself a lot of time getting a similar finished effect without having to draw a thing. You will still need an original photo image to play around with.

Just make sure you take a look at what’s out there and what is actually possible to acheive.

Drawing Size Requirements

Once you’ve made up your mind that illustrations are going to be featuring in your publication, you’ll need to do the following things before scanning:

  • Draw up in concept stage
  • Work out page location
  • Estimate finished image size in mm for book page
  • Convert mm to px to calculate resolution
  • Draw illustration at correct size

Scannable Lineart and Tracings

When you have the rough concept or simple relief of your illustration on paper and you’re happy, draw over the top of it. Then clean it up and neaten your contours and erase anything that shouldn’t be there.

If you plan on drawing it out in the vector program you can use the illustration as is and proceed to the scanning instructions.

If you wish to do the bulk of the work on paper and very little editing in the vector program (recommended for more detailed illustrations) you’re up for a bit more work now, but quite likely a lot less later. It’s time to trace off a good quality illustration to scan from the original you’ve tidied up.

Use artists tracing paper, commonly known as transfer paper. Scrapbookers use a similar product called vellum which whilst not identical in thickness, will certainly suffice. Each of these papers will give an excellent quality finished tracing. Good quality tracing paper is a must so don’t use the elcheapo stuff you buy on a 40m roll from the supermarket. You won’t get nice smooth lines due to the imperfections in the paper and it is also much to thin for this type of procedure. Felt tipped pens tend to bleed out a bit on this type of paper due to how porous it is and the fact it is cheap in quality.

You will also be required to use a good quality black felt tipped pen. Combined with good paper you will achieve beautifully smooth contours on your lines and sharp corners and points where desired.

The pens I recommend using are an Artline Felt Tipped Pen and the nibs come in 3 sizes:

  • 0.2 mm
  • 0.4 mm
  • 0.6 mm

I found the 0.6mm the most suitable for line thickness. That was also allowing for it to be reduced in scale to fit the book page if my scanned sketch proved too large.

I like to use A4 size paper and do a larger illustration with a thicker line. Larger pictures are not only easier to do, but fine detail is easier to complete (use the 0.4mm nib) and much easier to trace off without lines merging together. Also larger scans are a bit more forgiving when reduced in size to fit the book page. The outline will look cleaner and smoother and any glitches will now be reduced in size and clarity to some degree.

PLEASE NOTE: Some lines may end up too thin, depending on their initial size when traced and their finished size when imported into the book page. If they are too thin they will disappear or not actually be picked up by the printing program when it’s time to print your books. So if your illustration has lots of fine detail, do a larger picture to begin with and use as thicker nib as possible for the fine lines.

Don’t feel discouraged if it takes a few attempts. Practice makes perfect and it can take a bit of doing to get nice  smooth flowing lines, so don’t give up. Having had around thirty years in the trade with this type of work I can definitely say, the better quality the tracing, the less editing you’ll have to do in the Inkscape program later.

Scanning Illustrations

Each drawing must be scanned separately and saved as a raster file in your IMAGES folder. Acceptable file formats are JPG or PNG.

Click here for How to Scan and Save an Illustration


To fill with colour your illustration must make the leap from raster to vector by manipulation through a conversion program like Vector Magic. So the next step for an illustration once it is scanned and saved, is to vectorise it and convert from a raster format like JPG or PNG to a vectorised format like SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic).

Once the files have been vectorised and converted to SVG files in the Vector Magic program, save them into your IMAGES folder. When you are ready for them in the book layout stage, you can import them one by one into your book pages. You will be able to resize them to fit and manipulate them with colour and effects if and when required. The resolution won’t matter for vector drawings or illustrations as they can be enlarged or reduced without incident. If you are unhappy with the thickness of the outline on a drawing, it can be increased if required by using the outline tool to add desired thickness.

Click here for How to Vectorize a Raster Illustration

Importing and Editing

Once you’ve familiarised yourself well with Inkscape you will have to learn how to import your illustration into your book page and then fill it with colour and or effects. This procedure is covered via the link below and also in Step 05 BOOK LAYOUT. If you check it out here first, just skip it when you get to that part in Step 05 BOOK LAYOUT. If you haven’t got a handle on Inkscape just yet, it is advisable to skip the link below and wait till you get to Step 05. You’ll get the heads up on all you need to know about Inkscape there.

If you have all your illustrations vectorised and ready to import, then you’re highly organised and halfway there. Importing them and colouring them is the easy part. Just don’t be afraid to learn because it’s a load of fun and creativity and you’re at the helm.

Click here for How to Colour your Illustration

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