There are a lot of authors who like to do their own art work, and even more who want to do their own art but don’t feel they can have the skills. If you’re either one of these authors this post is for you!

61sqw5woWlLAuthor art is something most readers enjoy (most of all in fantasy of sci-fi gernes). Christopher Paolini , author of the Inheritance trilogy used this marketing to full advantage. In fact, though his books have started to drop off in popularity, his author art allowed him to come out with a adult coloring book for his series that has been a great hit. Author art can be a huge help.

So how can you use this if you aren’t very artsy? If you start trying to look it up you may get discouraged very fast. First is the price of good tools, then video after video of how-to draw videos gets overwhelming! But there is still hope. I’m not much of an artist myself, but I’m managing to make art work that actually is sanctifying to the readers. How do I do it? Three simple steps:

  1. Trace
  2. Use simple tools with great power
  3. Keep it in perspective

So the first step is trace. Now, for this you still will need tools. I’m going to give you tips on how to do it in the cheapest way possible. In fact, a lot of you likely already have the tools you need. The only new thing you may need is a lightbox, but I’ll explain that in a bit. The tools I use are these.

Each of those links will take you to a link to buy what I use for each of these.

The process is simple. First thing you want to do is decide what you want to draw. For a popular example say a dragon. Your first step will be going online to find dragons that are close to the look you want your dragon to have. Then print this out full scale with black and white coloring. Like this. green_dragon_v2_by_sandara-d9l3myt

Now you have what you will trace. Take your paper and put that on top of this image with the lightbox underneath and turn it on.  Then use your pencil to outline and design the dragon. That will give you a rough, good looking outline ot start with. Then you change the details you need to in order to make your dragon.

Second, you need to color it. Now there are tons of options. I choose to do sharpie marker style because I like that more Disney/Anime look to my characters, but you can use color pencils or even crayons. You will want to look up a few videos on how to use those tools to the best of their ability. You will likely need to practice those skills, so getting a few coloring books to practice with may not be a bad idea (And it’s relaxing and good for you too). Here are a few good places to find those tips on YouTube

Now there are tons more! You can spend a bit more and get things like Prismacolor or Copic markers, but that’s up to you.

Third, just remember you are making a living as a author not a illustrator (Though you can be both). These do not need to be stunning works of art. Readers like them because the author knows better than anyone what the character should look like, and readers love seeing what it is you see. So it’s okay if they aren’t amazing. As long as they capture your vision.

It’s fun. It’s actually easy and readers love it. There are lots of challenge videos on Youtube about using cheaper tools, and you really can get a good look out of them with practice.

So I’m adding my own Challenger! Make at least one picture of something from your book and share it in the comments or tweet it to me at @RealRMDonaldson. I’ll be sharing them with links to buy your book that goes with it. Also comment any questions you may have and I’ll send the info to you ASAP. So have fun drawing! By the end of the month I’ll share a few works I’ve done myself as well.