How to Design Cute Children’s Book Characters

When designing a children’s book character, you might have a goal to make it cute. After all, cute and cuddly sells. Let’s drill into some elements that make characters cute.


Small eyes are quite adorable. You see innocence in them. You see vulnerability. I would also accept abnormally large eyes. Those could be cute too. Nothing better than small, button eyes in my books.


A happy smile is always cute and inviting. When you have the mouth near the eyes, it adds a little extra cuteness. No matter how big or small, any smile will do. A frown could work if the character looks cute.


Colours that are light on the eyes are always best. If the colour is too harsh, you risk the potential for an uninviting character. Pastel colours in the RGB spectrum are easiest to look at while giving a heartwarming feel.


The surrounding colours and character skin colours should all be light. Anything too dark and you may lose some charm. Go for fun and happiness with yellow, orange and anything in a light shade.


Complex lines can equate to a complex character. Simple, clean lines feel better, especially if you would like to cut straight to the cuteness factor. Take it one step further and avoid lines altogether. Make the shapes with continuity and flow. Avoid harsh breaks in design.


Make hands and feet big or small. Abnormally big or small. Even small hyperboles will do. Avoid ‘normal’. By exaggerating shapes, you add a quirkiness factor, which is downright cute.


Of course, no children’s book character design would work without breaking the rules. Everything I said above can be taken with a grain of salt, especially since anything goes in the world of illustration.

Have fun!

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