June 12

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How to Design Children’s Picture Book Interiors in PowerPoint

By Rebecca Livermore

June 12, 2020


Have you dreamed about creating a children’s picture book but have been put off by the high cost of illustrating the books?

Are you intimidated by expensive and complicated graphic and book designing software?

If so, I have great news for you! In this article, I’m going to show you how to create awesome illustrations for your children’s picture books using nothing but stock images and PowerPoint.

Common Page Sizes and Length of Children’s Picture Books

Now let’s get into the common page sizes and length of children’s picture books.

Common page sizes are:

  • 7.5″ x 7.5″
  • 7″ x 10″
  • 10″ x 8″

Page Length of Children’s Picture Books

It’s important to know that while books for adults and older children are varied in length, picture books are traditionally 32 pages long.

Creating a Storyboard for Your Children’s Picture Book

Since there are a set number of pages in a children’s picture book, it’s especially helpful to create a storyboard for the book. A storyboard is simply a plan for your book that lays out what you’re going to include on each page.

Storyboards typically combine the text you’re going to include in the book, as well as sketches or images, or ideas about images that you’ll use in the book.  Think of it as an outline for your book, which includes illustrations or ideas for the illustrations.

Tools for Creating Storyboards for Your Children’s Picture Books

You can create your storyboard in multiple ways. I often use a table in Microsoft Word, but you can also go old school and use notecards, with one notecard, for each page in the book. Since the book will have 32 pages, you’d need 32 notecards. PowerPoint also works as a storyboard tool. If you use PowerPoint as your storyboard, you’ll need 32 slides for your storyboard. The handy thing about using PowerPoint as your storyboard is that you can first create the storyboard in PowerPoint, and then create your book on the same slides.

Keep Two-Page Spreads in Mind When Creating Your Storyboard

By the way, when creating the storyboard for your children’s picture book, keep in mind that two pages often fit together to make a complete picture. For example, you may have a single illustration that covers both the left and right-hand page, so that when the book is open, you see one larger image.

Setting Up Custom Page Sizes for Your Children’s Book in PowerPoint

Creating custom page sizes in PowerPoint is easy. To create a custom page size, click on the Design Tab.

From the dropdown menu, under slide size, select custom slide size.

setting up pages in PowerPoint for your children's picture book

You’ll see that the default width size is 13.333″ and the height is 7.5″

I’m creating a 7.5″ x 7.5″ book with bleed. For books with bleed, you need to add .125″ to the width and .25% to the height, so I’ll make the width 7.625″ and the height will be 7.75″.

Click on “OK’ and then “Ensure Fit.”

That’s all there is to setting up your children’s picture book page sizes in PowerPoint.

Finding Illustrations for Your Children’s Picture Books

There are a couple of ways to go about finding illustrations for your children’s picture books.

Illustrate Your Own Children’s Picture Books

First, if you’re a talented artist, you can draw the illustrations yourself. I only recommend this option if this is a true talent. I don’t recommend drawing your own illustrations if you’re an “ok” artist, because you don’t want your book to look amateurish.

Hire a Professional Illustrator

The second option is that you can hire a professional. The problem with this is that hiring someone to create custom illustrations for you can be expensive.

Because of that, I’m going to show you where to find illustrations for your children’s book, and then how to make your illustrations unique.

Using Free Stock Images for Your Children’s Book

First, you can get free images, including illustrations, from free image sites such as Pixabay.

When you go to Pixabay.com, you’ll see that in the search bar, there is a dropdown menu where you can select the file type. You’ll want to select either vector or illustrations.

Here’s an example of what I get when I do a search for “beach scene” in illustrations.

finding free stock images for children's books

Using Paid Image Sites for Illustrating Your Children’s Picture Books

While you can find a lot of good illustrations on free image sites, to have the most variety, I recommend using paid image sites such as DepositPhotos and Shutterstock. While these sites aren’t super cheap they have a lot more images, and the quality can’t be beat. Here’s the process that I use for finding images from DepositPhotos.

Searching for Vector Images and Illustrations

In the same way as you can do on Pixabay, you can search for both vector images and illustrations.

Finding illustrations for your childrens books

When I did a search for vector images that are beach scenes, as you’ll see in the image below, at the top there are several other options that can help you narrow your search. As an example, if I wanted to find a background image for my beach scene, I’d make that selection.

writing children's picture books

Finding Related Images for Your Children’s Picture Book

self publishing childrens books

One of the features that I like the best in DepositPhotos is that you can find similar images or images that come from the same series. This helps a lot when it comes to illustrating your children’s picture book with stock images, because you can find dozens of images that work well together. You can then pick and choose from those illustrations to illustrate your book.

finding illustrations for childrens books

The image above shows an example of related beach background scenes. That is a great option if you want to continue your story in the same setting, with backgrounds that are different, but look like they are in the same place.

While I love searching for similar images for backgrounds, I find it even more helpful when it comes to finding characters or objects for illustrating my books. Here’s an example of what I found when I did this while searching for illustrations of children playing on the beach.

self publishing a childrens picture book

Finally, if I don’t find what I’m looking for or need additional images, I can go back to similar images, and then click on “see more.” As you can see, that brings up a huge number of illustrations for me to choose from.

children's picture books

There are several pages of images that you can choose from.

You can see that a paid site such as DepositPhotos or Shutterstock offers you a lot more variety than free image sites. In the grand scheme of things, I feel that paying for images is relatively inexpensive and is far less expensive than hiring someone to create custom images for you. Because of that, if your budget permits, I recommend going with a paid image site for illustrating your books.

Making the Illustrations in Your Children’s Picture Books Unique – Even Though You Used Stock Images

One big problem with using stock images to illustrate your children’s picture books is that a lot of people may use the same images. The story in your children’s book will be unique, and you also want the images to look unique as well. The best way to accomplish this is to combine several images to create a unique illustration.

Here are some ways to go about this. First, I recommend starting with a stock image background, such as this:

self publishing childrens picture books

From there, add on multiple stock images and text to create a unique illustration for your children’s book. Check out the example below for ideas.

illustrating your own childrens picture book

The way that I did this is that I gathered several illustrations, cropped them, and then copied and pasted them onto the stock background image. I used a text box and standard fonts included in PowerPoint to add text  to the illustration.

Here’s an example of some of the images that I started with when creating this stock illustration.

custom illustrations using stock images

Can you spot the images in the picture above in the children’s picture book illustration that I created?

Removing Background Images in PowerPoint

In my course, I show how to design children’s book interiors in both PowerPoint and Google Slides. I decided to cover both programs, because some people either don’t have PowerPoint, or prefer to use Google Slides. Both are great programs for graphic design, including book design. However, PowerPoint is my personal favorite, because it has more features.

One of the features in PowerPoint that is missing in Google Slides is the ability to remove image backgrounds. This matters because if you don’t remove the background, there are times when the images you add to your illustration just won’t look right. Here’s an example of what I mean:

The problem is that the sand that surrounds the starfish and the sand in the bucket image don’t match the sand color in the background image. Thankfully, this is easy to fix in PowerPoint. There are two ways to remove the background image.

Removing Background in Images in PowerPoint by Setting a Transparent Color

illustrating children's picture books in PowerPoint

The first way to remove the background from an image is to first click on picture format, and then from the color dropdown menu, select “Set Transparent Color.” You then click on the part of the image that you want to remove. This worked great for removing the sand background from the bucket and shovel image.

self publish your childrens book

You can see that there is still a faint outline of the sand in the bucket and shovel image, but it’s faint enough to not be too noticeable in the illustration, particularly when other things are added to the image.

I tried using the same technique to remove the background from the starfish, but as you can see in the image below, it didn’t work well at all.

designing childrens books in powerpoint

You can see that a very small amount of the background was removed. Not a good look! The good news is, there is more than one way to remove a background in PowerPoint. Let’s take a look at the second option.

Image Background Removal in PowerPoint Method 2

The second option for removing the background from an image in PowerPoint involves the following steps:

illustrating children's books

  1. Click on Picture format
  2. Click on Background Removal
  3. Select either areas to keep or areas to remove. I base my decision on whatever I feel will be easiest. In this case, I selected “Mark Areas to Keep” because I felt it would be easy to “draw” on the starfish to indicate the areas I want to keep.
  4. After marking which areas you want to keep, click on “keep changes.”

Below is how the starfish looked after I removed the background using this second method.

Creating Children's picture books in PowerPoint

Exporting Your Book from PowerPoint as a PDF

To publish your children’s book as a print book, you’ll need to export it as a PDF. Thankfully, that’s super easy to do in PowerPoint!

First, click on file, then save a copy. Select PDF as the file type, and click on save.

self publishing books

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Recommended Resources

PowerPoint – Office 365 Version

While you can do much of what I show in this article in many versions of PowerPoint, if you plan to use Microsoft Office for your books, blog posts, and other creative endeavors, I highly recommend getting an Office365 subscription. It’s super affordable and includes features that take your content creation to a whole new level.

Children’s Book Design in PowerPoint and Google Slides (Course)

I feel like I barely touched the surface in this article when it comes to all of the amazing ways you can design children’s picture books in PowerPoint – and I didn’t even go into Google Slides at all. To get the full picture, as well as video demonstrations, I recommend my course, Children’s Book Design in PowerPoint and Google Slides.

How to Design Low Content Books in PowerPoint (Course)

How to Create Low-Content Books in PowerPoint

Admittedly, this is my favorite course to date. If you’re interested in using PowerPoint to create workbooks, journals, planners, or any other type of low content book, I don’t think you’ll find a more complete course.

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