Are you looking to write a children’s book but lack the illustration skills to pull it all together? Or maybe you’ve logged onto ChatGPT to create a custom children’s book story, and now want to illustrate it using AI art.
The good news is that Midjourney is here and can help bring your story book characters to life with no artistic abilities needed.
In this article, we are going to show you how to use Midjourney to create the visuals for your children’s story book, and give you loads of Midjourney prompts for children’s books.
Before we start, you’re going to need a couple of things…
1. A Discord account so you can use Midjourney. If you haven’t already signed up, read our article: The Absolute Beginner’s Step-By-Step Guide to Signing up for Midjourney.
2. A photo editing program, like Adobe Photoshop or even MS Paint. We’ll explain how Midjourney and your photo editing program will come together to create your end result.
How Many Pages Should A Children’s Book Be And How Many Images Will I Need?
A typical children’s book is 32 pages. This is because 32 pages can all be printed on a single sheet of paper, making it more cost-effective when getting printed.
You don’t have to stick to that number, of course. But if you are going to do more or less, the number of pages in your book should be a multiple of 8, as in 16, 24, or 40, 48, if you are planning to get the book printed.
On the other hand, if you are looking to publish it as an e-book only, then the number of pages doesn’t really matter.
As to how many images you’re going to need, the age of the children you are aiming your book at will be the determining factor. For really young children, the more images the better! For them, you may decide that you have an image on every page and just one or two sentences that accompany the image.
So if you have a 32-page book, for example, you’re going to need 32 images.
If you’re targeting slightly older children, you may decide to do alternating pages of text and images on every other page. In this case, you would require 16 images for a 32-page book.
Does Your Children’s Story Have a Main Character?
Most stories have a main character that will need to be the focus of multiple images throughout the book, but not all stories are this way. For example, the classic Oliver Jeffers book Here We Are doesn’t have a main character, but it does have a consistent art style.
If your story is structured like this, you’ll be able to create your images more easily, sticking only to art style and not having to worry about differences in the characters.
Draft A Storyboard
If you’ve used Midjourney before, you’ll know it takes a little ‘finagling’ to get the image you want. If you’re a Midjourney newbie, you will understand once you start to experiment and try to make your own characters.
It often takes multiple re-renders of an image to get the main character you want. Then you need to create that character in different scenes. You’ll want to make sure you know exactly what you want that scene to be, rather than creating a character performing random actions and try to fit them in somewhere, or have to go back because you realize you don’t have the image you want for a particular page.
Creating a storyboard will save you a lot of time because you won’t waste time creating images you are not going to use if you have your storyboard laid out and know what images you need.
Make a story board that consists of one ‘frame’ per page. You can opt to get a poster sized sheet of paper and just draw lines in a grid pattern to create boxes.
You can do the same with letter or legal sized paper, but you’ll need more sheets.
Within each box write the text and/or the description of the image that you want for every page.
Now that you’ve laid out your story and know what images you’ll need, then it’s time to start creating!
Prompts For Creating Characters in Midjourney
There’s a big difference between creating a character in Midjourney for a one-off use and creating a character that needs to be consistent in different scenarios.
If you are planning on creating a character (or characters) that are “reusable” in different situations, you will soon find out that Midjourney was never developed to create consistent characters. You can put in the same prompt multiple times, and for each return, you’ll get 4 more images that look different from all of the others.
That’s not going to help you if you are trying to create an illustrated story book and you want the same character on each page!
If you haven’t already, I would highly l suggest reading: How to create consistent characters in Midjourney. I will go over some of the techniques here as well, but the article includes tips for different character styles, as opposed to just the simple children’s book illustrations we will be going over in this article.
First things first, you need to create your character.
The easiest way to go about it is to break it down into chunks that Midjourney will use as a guide to generate your image.
- Give your Character a Name – this is going to come in handy later to give Midjourney an additional reference when you start making different images of your character(s) that you will use throughout your book.
- Describe Their Appearance – you don’t really have to go into too much detail here. Just focus on the things that you are going to want to be the same in every image of the same character, like the hair color, gender, eye color – whatever you think is important to the character.
Be sure to include things that you want consistent throughout, like glasses, or a hair bow. The clothes will depend on whether or not it’s central to the character. You can add a description of what they’re wearing if it’s something they will be wearing that will be a constant throughout and will become their ‘trademark’, like yellow rubber boots, a school uniform or a hat, for example.
- Assign an Art Style and/or Medium – Even though Midjourney can render images in another artist’s style, try to avoid this and create something that is uniquely your own.
Because this AI technology is still so new, there are no laws against using an AI created image “in the style of” a particular artist, but that may change and new legislation as to copyright may catch up to you in the future.
That’s also over and above the fact that it’s a little unfair to the artist.
You can assign an art medium to your character if you had something specific in mind. This is not necessary. You can just try running your prompt without one and see what comes out.
Midjourney Prompts for Children’s Books
Here are a few style and medium prompts for inspiration that you can try for creating characters for children’s books that you can add to your prompt:
- children’s story book illustration
- simple illustration
- detailed illustration
- –no outline
- flat illustration
- flat color
- Block illustration
- Charcoal illustration
- Colored pencil illustration
- Ink illustration
- Woodcut illustration
- Pencil Illustration
- Collage Illustration
- Naïve art
- Bold colors
- Pastel colors
- — Niji (if you want anime-style characters)
The Midjourney docs are a wealth of information on adding clever parameters to your artworks.
- Create a Character Style Sheet – Instead of starting with just one image of your character, you’re already ahead of the game because a character sheet will produce multiple versions of your character in one image from different angles. You are going to use these different versions of your character later to create more images of the same character in the specific poses and scenarios you need for your story.
Add in the following to your prompt:
“full body, multiple poses and expressions, character style sheet”
You can also try ‘character reference sheet’ or ‘character design sheet,’ instead of character style sheet and see which one works best for you.
- Assign the Midjourney version – Depending on the character you are creating, different versions of Midjourney may be better for the style of character you want to create.
While the default version of Midjourney is now version 5, version 4 tends to be better at making illustrated characters, while version 5 tends to be better at making more photo realistic images.
Once you’ve created your prompt, you can either just leave it (you don’t have to specify version 5 because it’s already the default), but if you want to see how the same character prompt results in version 4, add –v 4 to the end of your prompt.
If you are creating children’s book for older kids with more anime styled characters, you may want to try the niji version. The niji model is a collaboration between Midjourney and Spellbrush specifically developed to produce anime and illustrative styles and has a much more vast knowledge of anime, anime styles, and anime aesthetics.
Check out the article Creating Characters in Midjourney for specific anime-style prompts for characters.
So now combine all of the above and you should have a character sheet prompt that looks something like this:
Koming, character design sheet, cute, young balinese girl in a kebaya and sarong, whimsical children’s book illustration, flat color, full body, multiple poses and expressions, character concept, –no outline –upbeta
Note: The Beta upscaler is ideal for simple, flat illustrations. When you use the –upbeta parameter, instead of the U1 U2 U3 U4 upscale buttons upscaling the image to the default of 1024px X 1024px, your image becomes 2048px x 2048px.
Prompts For Creating Consistent Characters in Midjourney
Once you have a character style sheet with a character you are happy with (I chose the set on the top left), you are going to reproduce that character for the different pages of your book.
Remember that storyboard we talked about at the beginning? You’ve probably now had a chance to see, if this is your first time creating a character, how it takes a few tries to get what you’re looking for. You don’t want to be wasting time creating just random images of your character you’re not going to use.
However before you can start creating your book images, to ensure you get your character looking the same throughout, there are a few things you’re going to have to do first:
Step #1: Upscale the character style sheet
If you used “–upbeta” as part of your prompt, your image will be upscaled to 2048px x 2048px when you click the U (upscale) button under the image. Choose the number (U1-U4) that corresponds to the image you want to upscale.
Step #2: Copy the character style sheet.
Copy the character style sheet by clicking on it in the feed and selecting the ‘open in browser’ link and right clicking to select copy. Then paste it into a photo editing program, like Photoshop.
Step #3: Cut out the characters, paste them back into the Midjourney feed and save them
When you have your stylesheet in your photo editing program, erase all of the extraneous things in the background. You may also have a character or two that maybe don’t look as much like the others, so you can delete those as well.
For the remaining characters you’re going to select them one at a time and paste them back into the Midjourney chatbox – do not type “/imagine” to pull up the prompt box! Just Ctrl+v into the chat box at the bottom and press the spacebar.
Your image will come up on the feed.
You don’t have to worry if it’s an irregularly shaped selection because Midjourney will automatically adjust any image you paste in, onto a square background.
Select, copy and paste each image individually. Once you have all of the separate images of your character uploaded on the Midjourney feed, click on the first image and then right click to select ‘copy image address.’ Paste the image url into a word or notepad document.
Do this for each of the images you’ve uploaded.
Step # 4: Start creating images for your book!
In Midjourney, type in “/imagine” and hit the spacebar to pull up the prompt window. You’re going to paste all of the image links you just saved of the images you cut out, into the prompt window with a space between each link. Then copy and paste your initial prompt you used to create your character style sheet.
Don’t change the core wording of your character description!
Remove any mention of “character (reference/design/concept) sheet” from the original prompt. And where you had “multiple poses and expressions,” replace that with another action you want your character to do, like running or dancing or waving.
Your new prompt should look something like this:
“[image link 1] [image link 2] [image link 3] [image link 4] Koming, cute, young Balinese girl in a traditional sarong and kebaya, whimsical children’s book illustration, full body, kneeling and praying, flat color, –no outline”
Where it says [image link], you just need to paste the image links without the brackets and leave a space between each of the links.
Hit ‘enter’ on your keyboard and Midjourney will render 4 more images of your character doing what you specified. I used kneeling and praying in my example.
You may need to do a couple of iterations to get the image the way you want, but as you can see, the character and art style portrayed is consistent in each image.
Repeat this process for whatever other image you need of this character doing something else.
Here’s another set of a scene with her chasing a butterfly, as an example:
Just a note, Midjourney sometimes has difficulty understanding multiple directions, especially when you are talking about more than one subject. You could try something like:
“[image link 1] [image link 2] [image link 3] [image link 4] Koming, cute, young Balinese girl in a traditional sarong and kebaya, whimsical children’s book illustration, full body, walking through her village beside her cat Putu, flat color, –no outline”
But you’re probably not going to get the outcome you were looking for. It can work with more simple instructions, like the character sitting at a table doing homework, or flying a kite in the park.
For the more intricate images that have a lot of stuff going on, or more than one character, I’ve found it’s best to think of your image in layers.
Create the layers separately, then combine them in your photo editing program to make the final image.
When you get a good rendering of an image, not only are you going to save the image to use in your book, you can also upload that image to Midjourney like you did with the characters on your style sheet.
Save it and add the image link to your prompts so Midjourney has even more reference to go on of your character, for the next image you create.
Midjourney is a great tool that can help to illustrate your children’s book. It’s not easy and it requires a lot of steps and a lot of patience. But once you get over the initial hurdle of figuring out what prompts work best to create the characters you want, you can save not only the time it takes to create a children’s book, but also save you the money of having to hire an illustrator.