Features of picture books


Picture books combine visual and written elements to tell a story.

We can see from this page from Diary of a wombat by Jackie French that the pictures give us more information so we can see the "flat, hairy creature" for ourselves.


Visual elements of picture books



Illustrators will use colour to symbolise meaning. For example:

  • Yellow for hope
  • Red for passion, anger or danger
  • Black for darkness, danger, evil or the inability to see clearly
  • White for peace or innocence

This page may help you decide what colours to use when designing your own picture book: Colour symbolism and culture

If you're not familiar with Into the forest, have a look at the book here.


Icons and symbolscry-heart-but-never-break.jpg


These are images represented as signs, drawings, portraits, emblems, pictures or logos. They are used to make something easily recognisable and to portray something more than the original image.

What is being used a symbol on this page from Cry, heart but never break by Glenn Ringtved?

If you want to have a look at the whole book, click here.

 What do you think the crown symbolises in What do you do with an idea? by Kobi Yamada?



If you want to have a look at the whole book, click here.


Size and position


The position of the visual elements effects the level of importance of the different aspects of the picture. This means that where you place your pictures and how big you make them compared to the other pictures will also help to convey meaning.

What does the size of the feather in the following illustration say about it's importance to the characters?


For the whole story click here.




This is how the images have been created. What has the artist used to create the picture?



The hidden forest by Jeannie Baker

See the whole book here.



Look up! by Nathan Bryon

See the whole book here.

Adeola, the illustrator used paper, pencil and a light box to work on his rough drafts of the illustrations. He then added the colour on his computer using the scanned draft images. The illustrations we see here are the finished coloured digital versions.



Out by Angela May George

See the whole book here.


Painting - Water colour

The staircase cat by Colin Thompson

See the whole book here.


Painting - Acrylic / Oil

My sunbeam baby by Emma Quay



Hello, I'm here! by Helen Frost