How to get an illustration designed for your website or book

Hiring an illustrator for your project is exciting, but you need to make sure you follow the correct process. In this post we will show you how.
Aug 2, 2020 • 9 minute read
Ayesha Akhter @ayeshasuhail121
Technical Co-pilot
Cover photo for How to get an illustration designed for your website or book

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Before you hire an illustrator to bring your book to life, read this

When you hire an ilustrtor for your project, you need to make sure they are equipped with all of resources they willl need to effectively complete your project.

In this post we will teach the correct method of getting an ilustration designed for either your book or your website.

Create a storyboard

Although they are typically used for creating video, storyboards are a useful tool for planning a book. Regardless of your subject, they can be used to plan everything from the timeline to the plot and subplot, as well as events and characters.

All you need to get started is a wide board with a smooth surface for sticky notes. As poster boards can be expensive, you can also use butcher paper or even a cardboard box that you have sized appropriately for your vision. 

In addition to helping you plan your book, your storyboard will help you finalize the number of illustrations, graphics, etc, that are needed for your final draft.

Here are the step by step snapshots of how to create a storyboard for your website.





Creating a storyboard for your website 

Now that you have a plan for your work, you need to create a website storyboard. Why create a website storyboard, you ask? Since storyboarding is defined as the sequence of drawing corresponding productions shots, it only makes sense to utilize this method into your web design.

Website storyboarding will save you time and money as it will make the overall process of website design more efficient. The process will enable you to get a clear view of your final result.

To begin, draw your vision of your website on a blank sheet of paper, starting with the homepage as it one of the key components. Keep it simple as you have a matter of seconds to engage your visitors. If they find it overwhelming, they will simply move on to another website. 

Once you have completed the homepage, look at it from a visitor’s perspective? Would this page capture your attention? Would you stay on this site or go elsewhere? If it has caught your interest, you are on the right path.

There are a number of ways to create a storyboard for your website. Using powerpoint to storyboard a website is one of them. You can create your website storyboard by your own in powerpoint by following the below mentioned steps. 

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5:

Or, you can quickly draw a manual storyboard for your website in a second. Here is an example:

Design and usability

As you create your storyboard, you need to have one goal in mind, “What do I need to do in order to make this design stand out while keeping it simple?” Of course, you want your website to be unique, but it also needs to be user-friendly.

Check out competitors' websites

The best way to determine sites users are clicking on is to surf the internet yourself. Take a note of which websites you find appealing and make a note of what drew you to that site. Was it the overall design? How easy was it to navigate your way around the site? Was it well-organized as well as aesthetically appealing? Take notes as you browse to give you feedback as you continue to process.

Consistency is the key

Once you have designed your homepage, it will be easier. The key is to remain consistent throughout your website design. Make sure that the navigation between the layout and web pages remains the same. Determine a location for your header, columns, footer, and navigation for each page. 

Once you have designed a few pages, choose one and use it to navigate to the homepage. Navigate around your site as if you were a visitor to see if the design and usability are cohesive.

Pro Tip: KISS it! (Keep It Simple Stupid!)

Design a sitemap

Once you have established a clear design for your website, the next step is to create your sitemap. Similar to an outline, the sitemap will break down your website for your users. Start with the homepage then move on to the category and subcategory pages, drawing simple boxes representing the different pages and sections.

Here is a sample of a sitemap to get you started:

Now that  you have a general idea of how a storyboard can help with your website design, follow these steps to get started:

  • Gather the information you wish to incorporate on your website including buttons, tabs, fonts, and images.

  • Outline the design, identifying each aspect of your interface making it user-friendly as well as accessible. Keep it detailed and specific to your vision.

  • Create links and other connections to allow users to easily maneuver your website.

  • Use or create a website template to unify the components of your website. 

Choose the dimensions of your book 

Once you have decided that you wish to self-publish, you need to get an idea of the dimension of your book. This will help you to determine how much it will cost to print. If you are publishing digitally, keep in mind that digital books are priced by the range of sizes rather than the actual size as opposed to offset printing.

Of course, as your book progresses, this could change. Remember, you aren’t locked into anything this early in the game. But it helps to have a general idea of the final figures.

Standard trim size

In printing terms, book sizes are referred to as trim sizes, as in where the book is trimmed at the final stage of production. While there are few set rules about book size, there are some guidelines to keep in mind. 

*note: sizes mentioned are width x height

The only rule that is strictly enforced is that mass-market books have a dimension of 4-1/4″ x 7″ as they need to fit on book racks. This is not the case with self-published books, however.

Following are some other industry “guidelines:”

Trade paperbacks: range from 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ to 6″ x 9″

Manuals/Workbooks: range from 8″ x 10″ to 8-1/2″ x 11″

Novellas/Short Stories:  5-1/4″ x 8″ 

Novels/Short Story Collections/Memoirs: start at 6″ x 9″

Standard Trim Size vs Production

The method of printing you choose for your book will have a direct effect on the trim size. As digital printing is highly automated, it leaves less room for choice.

Trim sizes as per Lighting Source:

  • 4.37 x 7 inches (178 x 111mm)

  • 4.72 x 7.48 inches (190 x 120mm)

  • 5×7 inches (178 x 127mm)

  • 5 x 8 inches (203 x 127mm)

  • 5.06 x 7.81 inches (198 x 129mm)

  • 5.25 x 8 inches (203 x 133mm)

  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches (216 x 140mm)

  • 5.83 x 8.27 inches (210 x 148mm)

  • 6 x 9 inches (229 x 152mm)

  • 6.14 x 9.21 inches (234 x 156mm)

  • 6.625 x 10.25 inches (260 x 168mm)

  • 6.69 x 9.61 inches (244 x 170mm)

  • 7.44 x 9.69 inches (246 x 189mm)

  • 7.50 x 9.25 inches (235 x 191mm)

  • 7 x 10 inches (254 x 178mm)

  • 8 x 8 inches (203 x 203mm)

  • 8 x 10 inches (254 x 203mm)

  • 8 x 10.88 inches (276 x 203mm)

  • 8.25 x 11 inches (280 x 210mm)

  • 8.268 x 11.693 inches (A4) (297 x 210mm)

  • 8.5 x 8.5 inches (216 x 216mm)

  • 8.5 x 9 inches (229 x 216mm)

  • 8.5 x 11 inches (280 x 216mm)

Trim sizes per CreateSpace, (Amazon print on demand supplier)

  • 5 x 8 inches, 12.7 x 20.32 centimeters

  • 5.06 x 7.81 inches, 12.9 x 19.8 centimeters

  • 5.25 x 8 inches, 13.335 x 20.32 centimeters

  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches, 13.97 x 21.59 centimeters

  • 6 x 9 inches, 15.24 x 22.86 centimeters

  • 6.14 x 9.21 inches, 15.6 x 23.4 centimeters

  • 6.69 x 9.61 inches, 17 x 24.4 centimeters

  • 7 x 10 inches, 17.78 x 25.4 centimeters

  • 7.44 x 9.69 inches, 18.9 x 24.6 centimeters

  • 7.5 x 9.25 inches, 19.1 x 23.5 centimeters

  • 8 x 10 inches, 20.32 x 25.4 centimeters

  • 8.25 x 6 inches, 20.955 x 15.24 centimeters

  • 8.25 x 8.25 inches, 20.955 x 20.955 centimeters

  • 8.5 x 11 inches, 21.59 x 27.94 centimeters

  • 8.5 x 8.5 inches, 21.59 x 21.59 centimeters

Note: These sizes are the larger trim sizes that are intended for full-color books. It is best to use cream colored paper for books such as self-help, non-fiction, novels, and memories as cream colored paper produces less glare and is easier on the eyes.

Choose the dimensions of the illustrations of your website 

Saving web images can be a bit of a challenge. Uploading large images can not only wreak havoc with the users experience of your website as well as impact your SEO strategy.

Typical image sizes 

It is imperative to have a basic understanding of image size specifications as those that are not correct will distort in order to meet the fixed dimension on your website.

If you are using a CMS (content management system) or a website builder such as Squarespace or WordPress, the size requirements vary according to whatever template or theme you are using to design your website. The site builder will often resize images for you so the image will be displayed properly via different site formats. It is best to use an image that leaves room for reduction without interfering with resolution and that will fit on a standard screen.

Note: Take caution to not confuse image file size with image size. Imagine file size is measured in bytes as per how much space it uses on a drive in megabytes or kilobytes.

Following are the most commonly used images sizes:

How to write a project spec for your book illustration 

If you are hiring an illustrator for your book you need to be able to effectively communicate your ideas to your illustrator. The following guide will help you create a project spec for your illustrator.

Use these guidelines when writing the project spec:

  •  Approximate number of illustrations needed

  • General idea of the vision for each illustration

  • Final size and resolution of each illustration

  • Current layout, template or other visuals

  • Timeframe for preliminary as well as final sketches

  • Where the images will be used

  • How long you will be using the images

  • Funding

  • Special considerations (ie: will your book be controversial?)

How to write a project spec for your website illustration

Use the following guidelines in writing the project spec for your website illustration:

  • Include helpful information about your business including what products and services you provide, how long you have been in business, what makes you stand out from the competition and so forth.

  • State your objectives. Is this a new website or are you rebranding? What are your goals for the new site? Are you looking to generate more sales, launch a new product, and so on.

  • Give a detailed outline of our budget so that your designer can plan their services accordingly. 

  • Set a timeframe so that everyone can adhere to the correct schedule.

  • Give a description of your target audience.

  • Include the project details including:

  • Domain/hosting info

  • Are you using a CMS?

  • Will you be hiring content writers?

  • Logo/Images/Audio

  • Number of pages needed

  • Custom design features

  • Any other pertinent info that may be useful

  • Provide links to websites that they may find helpful as a prototype and point out what you like/dislike about them.

  • How you are going to maintain the website

How to hire a freelance illustrator for your book or website

Freelance illustrators may not be your first choice when it comes to publishing your book or website. However, in the last few decades, freelancers have become an integral component of writing, publishing and website design. Following are some of the benefits of hiring a freelance illustrator.

  • Hiring a freelancer will give you more time to focus on your business.

  • Freelancers can offer a fresh perspective. 

  • Freelancers understand the importance of SEO and web design.

  • You can hire multiple freelancers for the cost of a “professorial” illustrator.

  • Freelancers work independently and do not require constant supervision. 

  • Freelance illustrators can be hired remotely which greatly increases the range of talent as well as the number of available illustrators.

  • Freelancers will provide more flexibility overall.

  • The payment method for freelancers is secured if you hire from a freelance website. 

  • You can save a lot of money hiring a freelancer.

  • You won’t have to hire full-time staff or provide benefits.

How to hire a freelancer

The best way to find a freelance illustrator is to use a professional freelance site such as Below is a quick overview on how to find the right illustrator for your book, e-book or website.

Post a project

There is never a fee to post your project on Once your project is posted you will automatically receive bids from freelancers who have registered with the site. As well, you can browse through the catalog of freelancers on the site and contact them directly.

Hire the right freelancer for the job

Once the job is posted and you have narrowed your selection o a few ideal candidates, you can chat with them online in real time, compare proposals to find the right fit and then finally select your illustrator, so they can get right to work.

Pay your illustrator once they have completed the task and you are satisfied with their work.

Once they have submitted their work and it meets your approval, you can use the payment system offered on to release payments. This schedule can be set according to goals that you have specifically set or upon completion of the project in its entirety. You  have complete control over when your client gets paid.

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