AI Prompts For Children’s Book Illustrations: Boost Your Creativity and Save Time

The world of children’s book illustrations is ever-evolving, with advancements in technology opening up new possibilities for authors and illustrators alike. One of the latest innovations in this space is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) such as Midjourney or Dall-E to generate prompts for creating stunning illustrations.

In this post, we’ll delve into the world of AI-generated prompts for children’s book illustrations, explore the benefits of using these prompts, explain the thought process behind how these prompts were engineered and customized for children’s books, and share some tips to help you make the most of this cutting-edge technology.

How AI-Generated Prompts Can Benefit Your Illustration Process

AI-generated prompts are suggestions or ideas provided by AI programs to guide users in creating unique and engaging illustrations. These prompts are generated based on algorithms that analyze patterns and trends in visual art, making it possible for AI tools to come up with original and captivating ideas for illustrations that you may not have thought of otherwise.

Benefits of using AI-generated prompts

  • Time-saving: AI-generated prompts can save you significant time by providing you with an initial idea or concept for your illustrations, allowing you to focus on refining and executing the design.
  • Enhanced creativity: AI-generated prompts can inspire you to explore new artistic directions and experiment with different illustration styles.
  • Overcoming artist’s block: AI-generated prompts can help you overcome creative roadblocks by providing fresh ideas and unique perspectives.
  • Collaboration: AI-generated prompts can enhance collaboration between authors and illustrators, providing a starting point for discussion and idea development.

Prompt Engineering for Illustrations

Prompt engineering is the process of crafting effective prompts that guide AI tools to generate relevant and creative outputs. When it comes to illustrations, understanding how to design a good prompt is crucial for obtaining the desired results. In this section, we will discuss the key components of prompt engineering for illustrations.


The first step in creating an effective prompt for illustrations is to be clear and specific in your description. Clearly define the subject, setting, and context of the scene you want the AI to generate. This will ensure that the AI tool understands your vision and delivers an accurate representation of your idea.

Example: Instead of saying “a cat sitting on a chair,” provide a more detailed description like “a fluffy white cat sitting on a wooden rocking chair.”


Keep your prompts simple and concise. Overloading a prompt with too many details can lead to confusion or overwhelm the AI, potentially resulting in less accurate outputs. Focus on the essential elements of the illustration and allow the AI some creative freedom to fill in the gaps.

Example: Rather than asking for “a medieval knight in full armor with a sword, shield, and helmet, fighting a dragon,” simplify the prompt to “a knight in armor fighting a dragon.”

Emotional Appeal

Incorporate emotional elements into your prompts to evoke a specific mood or atmosphere in your illustration. This can help convey the intended feeling of the scene and create a more engaging visual for your audience.

Example: Instead of “a child playing in a garden,” try “a joyful child playing in a sunlit garden filled with blooming flowers.”

illustration of a joyful child playing in a sunlit garden filled with blooming flowers


Include a sense of action or movement in your prompts to create dynamic and captivating illustrations. This can help bring your characters and scenes to life and make your illustrations more appealing to readers.

Example: Rather than requesting “a dog in a park,” specify the action with “a playful dog chasing a frisbee in a park.”


Consider specifying the perspective or point of view from which the illustration should be created. This can help to ensure that the AI-generated image is consistent with the rest of your book and aligns with your overall artistic vision.

Example: Instead of “a group of kids playing soccer,” specify the point of view with “a bird’s-eye view of a group of kids playing soccer.”


Mention the desired artistic style or genre for your illustration, such as realism, impressionism, or cartoon-style. This will guide the AI tool in generating an image that complements the overall aesthetic of your book.

Example: Rather than just asking for “a scene of a forest,” specify the desired style with “an impressionist-style painting of a lush forest.”

Iterations and Refinement

Keep in mind that prompt engineering is an iterative process. You may need to adjust or refine your prompts multiple times before obtaining the perfect illustration. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different phrasings, styles, or details to achieve the best results.

Example 1: Initial prompt: “a happy family having a picnic in a park.” Refined prompt: “a cheerful family of four enjoying a picnic under a large oak tree in a sunny park.”

Example 2: Initial prompt: “a girl reading a book.” Refined prompt: “a young girl with glasses, sitting on a window seat, immersed in a fantasy book.”

By understanding the anatomy of prompt engineering for illustrations, you’ll be better equipped to create effective prompts that guide AI tools in generating captivating and accurate visuals for your children’s book.

How To Create Effective AI-Generated Prompts

To create an engaging children’s book, it is first necessary to understand the elements that contribute to the overall visual appeal and storytelling experience. First, read The Art of Storytelling: Mastering Visual Elements for Children’s Books.

Next, we will apply these visual elements (Foundational, Technical, Stylistic, and Narrative) to guide you to creating customized prompts. We will also provide prompt examples of effective AI-generated prompts.

Foundational Elements


Balance and contrast shapes, colors, and textures to create an interesting and dynamic composition. For example, in “The Cat in the Hat,” the cat’s hat and the fish’s bowl create a balanced composition.

  • “Create an illustration with an interesting color contrast using complementary colors.”
  • “Use geometric shapes to create a dynamic composition in an outdoor setting.”
  • “Experiment with textures and patterns to create a unique composition in a still life scene.”
  • “Arrange characters and objects to create a visual flow in a chaotic scene.”
  • “Create a layered composition that emphasizes depth and space in a landscape scene.”


Use lighting to create mood and atmosphere, and highlight important elements in the illustration. For example, in “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” the warm, golden light creates a cozy atmosphere for the caterpillar’s feast.

  • “Create an illustration with dramatic, contrasting light and shadow.”
  • “Experiment with different light sources to create a unique mood in a nighttime scene.”
  • “Use soft, diffused light to create a dreamy atmosphere in a fantasy scene.”
  • “Create a high-contrast illustration with strong, directional light.”
  • “Use a spotlight effect to draw attention to a specific element in the illustration.”


Use perspective to create depth and space, and influence the emotional impact of the scene. For example, in “Goodnight Moon,” the bird’s-eye view creates a calm and peaceful atmosphere.

  • “Create an illustration with a worm’s-eye view to convey a sense of power and awe.”
  • “Experiment with a fisheye lens effect to create a distorted perspective in a surreal scene.”
  • “Use a bird’s-eye view to create a peaceful and serene atmosphere in a landscape scene.”
  • “Create a close-up illustration with an extreme perspective to convey a sense of intimacy and immediacy.”
  • “Use forced perspective to create an illusion of depth and space in a minimalist scene.”

Character Design

Develop unique, memorable characters with distinct features, expressions, and personalities. For example, in “Where the Wild Things Are,” the wild things have distinct features and expressions that make them memorable, and Max’s wolf costume is iconic and easily recognizable.

  • “Illustrate a quirky animal character with expressive eyes and a unique outfit.”
  • “Design a relatable child character with distinctive facial features and hairstyle.”
  • “Create a fantastical creature with intricate details and an interesting backstory.”
  • “Illustrate a wise, elderly character with a kind expression and distinctive clothing.”
  • “Design a dynamic superhero with a bold costume and powerful abilities.”


Use detail to highlight key elements and create visual interest, without sacrificing clarity and readability. For example, in “The Snowy Day,” the detailed textures of the snow and the character’s clothing create a sense of warmth and coziness.

  • “Create a detailed illustration of a character’s face to convey their emotions and personality.”
  • “Experiment with a detailed background to create a sense of place and atmosphere.”
  • “Use detailed patterns and textures to create a unique look and feel in a still life scene.”
  • “Create a simple, minimalist illustration with a few carefully chosen details.”
  • “Use negative space to create a balanced composition and emphasize the important elements in the illustration.”


Add texture to create depth and visual interest. For example, in “Where the Wild Things Are,” the wild things have textured fur that adds to their wild and untamed appearance.

  • “Create a rough, textured background to add depth and atmosphere to an outdoor scene.”
  • “Experiment with different brushes and overlays to create a unique look and feel for your illustrations.”
  • “Use texture to create a tactile, three-dimensional effect in a still life scene.”
  • “Create a smooth, flat illustration with subtle textures for a minimalist look.”
  • “Use different textures and patterns to create contrast and visual interest in a detailed illustration.”
different textures and patterns to create contrast and visual interest in a detailed illustration

Technical Elements

Camera Focus

Use depth of field and camera focus to direct the reader’s attention to important elements in each illustration. In “Goodnight Moon,” the focus on the items in the room creates a sense of intimacy, while the blurry background emphasizes the coziness of the space.

  • “Generate an illustration with a focused foreground character and a blurred background.”
  • “Create a scene where the main object is in sharp focus while the surroundings are out of focus.”
  • “Design an illustration with selective focus on a key element in the scene.”
  • “Produce a close-up with a soft focus on the background to emphasize depth.”
  • “Illustrate a dynamic action scene with focus on the main character and motion blur in the background.”

Aspect Ratio

Select an aspect ratio that complements your story‘s format and illustrations. A square format (1:1) works well for a story with symmetrical illustrations or a grid layout, while landscape (2:3 or 3:4) is ideal for panoramic scenes or stories with horizontal action, and portrait (3:4 or 4:5) suits vertically-oriented illustrations or tall characters.

  • “Create a square format illustration with symmetrical elements.”
  • “Generate a landscape format illustration with a panoramic scene.”
  • “Design a portrait format illustration with a tall character.”
  • “Illustrate a landscape format with a horizontal action scene.”
  • “Produce a portrait format with a vertically-oriented action sequence.”

Stylistic Elements


Choose a style that complements the story and appeals to your target audience. For example, in “The Giving Tree,” the simple, minimalist illustrations complement the story’s heartfelt message.

  • “Create an abstract style illustration with a limited color palette to convey a dreamlike or surreal atmosphere.”
  • “Illustrate a character in a realistic style with attention to fine details, such as wrinkles and facial expressions.”
a character in a realistic style with attention to fine details, such as wrinkles and facial expressions
  • “Design a minimalist illustration with simple shapes and bold colors to convey a sense of playfulness or humor.”
  • “Experiment with a cartoonish style with exaggerated features to convey a lighthearted or whimsical tone.”
  • “Create an illustration with a collage-style design that incorporates different textures and patterns to add depth and visual interest.”

Color Palette

Choose a color palette that reflects the book’s tone and mood. “The Day the Crayons Quit” uses the colors of the crayons themselves to create a visually engaging and lively atmosphere, while “The Giving Tree” uses muted, earthy colors to convey a more contemplative mood.

  • “Design a vibrant and energetic illustration using bright colors.”
a vibrant and energetic illustration using bright colors
  • “Create a soothing and calming scene with pastel colors.”
  • “Illustrate a dramatic and moody scene using dark, contrasting colors.”
  • “Generate a lively and playful illustration with a rainbow of colors.”
  • “Design a minimalist scene using monochromatic shades.”


Select a font that is easy to read and complements the book’s style. In “The Book with No Pictures,” the playful, varied typography complements the book’s humorous tone and keeps the reader engaged without illustrations.

There are several AI-based font design tools available, such as Fontjoy, Prototypo, and FontArk, that use machine learning algorithms to generate new fonts. These tools allow users to customize fonts by adjusting various parameters, such as stroke width, x-height, and letter spacing, and the AI generates the corresponding font design.

However, it is worth noting that while AI-generated fonts can be a useful starting point, they may still require manual refinement by a human designer to ensure that they are legible and aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, font design is not just about aesthetics, but also about functionality, and a font needs to be designed to work well in a variety of contexts and with different languages and scripts. Therefore, while AI can assist with font design, it cannot replace the expertise and experience of a skilled human designer.

  • “Generate a playful illustration with handwritten-style typography.”
  • “Create a vintage-inspired illustration with classic serif fonts.”
  • “Design a modern, minimalist scene with sans-serif typography.”
  • “Illustrate a whimsical scene with a mix of script and decorative fonts.”
  • “Produce a dynamic illustration with typography that interacts with the characters or elements in the scene.”


Maintain a consistent style and tone throughout the book, both in terms of illustration and storytelling. “The Pigeon” series by Mo Willems maintains a consistent illustration style and tone throughout, making the books instantly recognizable and creating a cohesive experience.

  • “Create a series of illustrations with a consistent color scheme and character design.”
  • “Design multiple scenes with a unified artistic style and tone.”
  • “Generate a set of illustrations with a similar level of detail and visual complexity.”
  • “Produce a series of images that consistently use the same type of line work and shading.”
  • “Illustrate a cohesive story with consistent scene composition and pacing.”

Narrative Elements

Scene Type

Ensure that each scene effectively conveys the story’s mood, setting, and atmosphere. Include a mix of close-ups, mid-range, and wide shots to provide visual variety. In “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” close-ups of the caterpillar eating, mid-range shots of the fruit, and wide shots of the entire scene with the butterfly provide visual variety.

  • “Draw a close-up of a character experiencing a strong emotion.”
  • “Create a mid-range scene with two characters interacting.”
  • “Illustrate a wide shot of a bustling marketplace.”
  • “Generate a bird’s eye view of a busy playground.”
  • “Design an underwater scene with various sea creatures.”

Backgrounds and Environments

Create detailed and engaging backgrounds and environments that immerse the reader in the world of your story. The detailed, immersive environments in “The Polar Express” transport the reader into the magical world of the story, while “The Dot” focuses on simple, minimalist backgrounds to emphasize the character’s artistic journey.

  • “Create a lush, detailed forest environment with various plants and animals.”
  • “Design an intricate cityscape with a mix of architectural styles and street life.”
  • “Generate a dreamy, fantastical landscape with floating islands and magical creatures.”
  • “Produce a cozy, inviting interior scene with detailed furnishings and decorations.”
  • “Illustrate a stark, minimalist environment that highlights the main character or action.”

Visual Storytelling

Use illustrations to convey emotions, actions, and plot points that complement the text. In “Knuffle Bunny,” the combination of photo backgrounds and hand-drawn characters visually conveys the emotions and actions of the characters, while “Press Here” uses simple illustrations and interactive elements to engage young readers.

  • “Create a wordless scene that conveys a strong emotion through character expressions and body language.”
wordless scene that conveys a strong emotion through character expressions and body language
  • “Design an illustration that shows a key plot point or turning point in the story.”
  • “Generate a visual metaphor or symbol that represents an important theme or concept in the story.”
  • “Produce a sequence of images that show the passage of time or a character’s growth and development.”
  • “Illustrate a dramatic climax or resolution using powerful imagery and composition.”


Use illustration and text placement to control the pacing of your story. In “The Snowy Day,” the illustrations and text placement create a sense of calm and wonder, while “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” uses energetic illustrations and varied text placement to create anticipation and excitement.

  • “Design a fast-paced action scene with dynamic character poses and movement.”
  • “Create a calm, contemplative scene with ample negative space and a subdued color palette.”
  • “Generate an illustration that builds anticipation through character expressions and body language.”
  • “Produce a suspenseful scene with dramatic lighting and composition.”
  • “Illustrate a moment of triumph or resolution with bold colors and expressive characters.”

These prompts can be used as inspiration to create engaging children’s book illustrations while considering various aspects of visual storytelling.

Tips and Tricks For Maximizing AI-Generated Prompts

  • Be open to new ideas. Embrace the unexpected ideas generated by AI prompts and use them as an opportunity to explore new creative avenues. Keep an open mind and allow yourself to be inspired by the unique suggestions provided by the AI tool.
  • Provide clear instructions: Make sure to provide clear and specific instructions when using AI-generated prompts for illustrations. This will help the AI generate prompts that are more relevant to your needs.
  • Use high-quality input data: The quality of the input data you use will affect the quality of the prompts generated by AI. Use high-quality images and data sets to get the best results.
  • Adjust the parameters: Most AI tools allow you to adjust the parameters used to generate prompts. Experiment with different settings to get the best results for your specific project. Check out the settings in Midjourney that you can adjust
  • Combine prompts. You don’t have to stick to just one AI-generated prompt. You can combine multiple prompts or use them as a starting point to create a more complex and engaging illustration. This can lead to innovative and captivating artwork that truly sets your children’s book apart.
  • Combine AI with human creativity: AI-generated prompts can be a great starting point for creating illustrations, but don’t rely solely on AI. Use your own creativity and intuition to refine and customize the prompts to suit your specific needs.
  • Practice and refine: Like any tool, AI-generated prompts require practice and refinement to get the best results. Experiment with different approaches and techniques to find what works best for you.
  • Stay true to your style. While AI-generated prompts can inspire you to explore new artistic directions, it’s important to stay true to your own illustration style. Use the prompts as a guide, but make sure to infuse your unique flair and artistic sensibilities into the final artwork.

AI-generated prompts for children’s book illustrations offer a wealth of creative possibilities for authors and illustrators, helping to save time, enhance creativity, and overcome artist’s block. By embracing this innovative technology and using it effectively, you can create stunning and engaging illustrations that will captivate young readers and set your children’s book apart from the rest.

Ready for the next step? Learn How to Use Midjourney to Bring Your Children’s Book Ideas to Life.

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