Best book illustration design software

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
CEO & Founder
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  • Book illustrations are a great way of immersing readers into a story.
  • Well-designed illustrations can do this in an even effective manner.
  • As such, we've compiled a list of the best Graphics Software that you can use to design them.
  • For more articles on such software tools, check out our Graphics and Design page.
book illustration design tools
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Whether you are talking about children’s books or a college-level anatomy atlas, illustration is important since they help with the comprehension of the text that’s next to it.

Of course, book illustrations can’t be your typical doodles, as they do require an artistic approach, as well as quality rendering.

That being the case, we will be looking over several software tools that you can use in order to create fantastic and highly-detailed book illustrations, regardless of what they will be used for.

These applications have been tried and tested, and we will be ranking them based on the toolset that they provide, as well as how easy they are to use by both beginners and experienced users alike.

What are the best software for designing book illustrations?

Adobe Illustrator (recommended)

Topping out our list is a software tool that even has illustrator in the name. This Adobe product can be considered the bread and butter of vector graphics software, allowing you to create pretty much anything as long as it involves shapes and colors.

Those of you that are familiar with other Adobe products will probably recognize the UI as well since the elements are arranged in pretty much the same fashion.

As far as versatility goes, purchasing Adobe Illustrator will open up a whole world of possibilities to you in terms of customization, since there are hundreds of plugins to use for whatever task you are currently on.

Illustrations big or small will be easy to create from the ground up while using this tool, with the pencil tools brushes and layer support making your job a whole lot easier.

More so, once you are done, you can save your work in many different formats, most of which are supported by all the other Adobe products.

Here are some of Adobe Illustrator’s main features:

  • Full layer support
  • Supported formats work well with all products from the Adobe Cloud Creative Suite
  • Professional-level tools and features
  • Familiar UI
  • Have all the tools needed for creating superb book illustrations

Download Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Photoshop

Yet another entry in our list is a program that is also part of the Adobe family. Photoshop is arguably one of the most recognizable programs in the world, being used as the default word when talking about a photo that has been edited.

While the difference between Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are only important to those that work in the business as professionals, suffice it to say that s far as book illustrations are concerned, the two programs are almost identical.

The UI is arranged in pretty much the same manner, so anyone versed in the ways of Illustrator can easily transition to Photoshop and vice-versa.

Lastly, any illustrations created in photoshop are compatible with Illustrator anyway, so you can always make the needed editings on a dedicated tool.

Here are some of Adobe Photoshop’s main features:

  • The best program as far as layer support is concerned
  • Created illustrations are fully compatible with Adobe Illustrator
  • Great for raster-based art
  • Familiar UI
  • It can be efficiently used to create digital art, including book illustrations.

⇒ Download Adobe Photoshop


CorelDraw has always been considered a fundamental graphics design tool since you can use it for creating pretty much anything. To that end, book illustrations are not an exception, and you can create incredibly beautiful ones by using this program.

What CoreDRAW lacks in the sheer amount of options and tools as compared to the previous entry it more than compensates with the fact that it is extremely user-friendly. This makes it an excellent choice for those that don’t have much experience using such tools.

Importing image elements, working in layers and all other operations you would otherwise be used to doing in different windows can now be accomplished within the same window using the simplest of commands.

More so, taking into consideration how feature-rich the program is, it is also surprisingly very easy on your PC, making it accessible even to those that can’t afford a high-end PC.

Here are some of CorelDRAW’s main features:

  • A broad range of supported file formats
  • Full layer support
  • Can handle both vector and raster-based graphics simultaneously
  • Supports 64-bit OS and multi-core processors
  • Versatile and powerful drawing tools

Download CorelDRAW


If what you are looking for is a product that can be used for drawing book illustrations, regardless of whether they are scientific or artistic in nature, there’s no way you can go wrong with Inkscape.

If you have all the necessary hardware, then this software is the ultimate tool for those that want to know what it feels like to draw by hand, without any of the disadvantages.

Of course, Inkscape is not limited to doing only that. Whether you are an illustrator, designer, web designer or just someone who needs to create some vector imagery, Inkscape has pretty much everything that you may ever need.

One great thing about this tool is that it is also actively updated with fixes and new features, allowing it to keep up even with some professional-grade tools.

Here are some of Inkscape’s main features:

  • Flexible drawing tools
  • Broad file format compatibility
  • Powerful text tool
  • Bezier and spiro curves
  • Free of charge

⇒ Download Inkscape


Closing our list is probably what many of you already know as an entry-level graphics design tool. This tool can be downloaded freely and it is also open source.

These two make it an excellent choice for those that are just starting their journey into the world of creating book illustrations, or any other kind of digital art for that matter.

More so, the fact that it is open-source means that it is also constantly updated with new features, without straying away from the original intent of creating the perfect beginner’s tool.

The UI is incredibly simplistic and clear that even a child could understand it. Admittedly, this comes at the cost of this program is the least feature-packed of all of our entries.

However, if book illustrations are all that concern you, then GIMP should be on your priority list.

Here are some of GIMP’s main features:

  • Completely free
  • Open-source
  • Constant updates
  • Intuitive design
  • Entry-level software

Download GIMP

Art is art, and with sufficient talent, you could probably get away with creating superb images using programs like Microsoft Paint.

However, not everyone is born with that talent, so having a good third-party graphics design tool can greatly reduce the burden of creation, allowing you to create illustrations that will definitely bring joy and awe to your readers.

FAQ: Learn more about designing book illustrations

  • What are the best book illustrations design software?

Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, CorelDraw, Inkscape, and GIMP.

  • What is a book illustration? 

An illustration is a means through which text, a concept or process is represented through a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation.

  • Do illustrators use Photoshop or Illustrator?

Illustrator is better if your work is made to be scaled in both very small and in very large sizes, such as designing a small logo or a banner that can cover the size of a building.