What is a digital e-book interactive picture book and what is some good software to make one?

Several years ago I saw a thesis booklet published on the Issuu website about a project called Woolly and Shaggy by an Illustrator and animator called Lynn Qianliu Chen.

Trailer:

Woolly and Shaggy by an Illustrator and animator called Lynn Qianliu Chen

Inspired, I did some research, but I didn’t write my findings down except in the form of bookmarks, then I got distracted learning about other things. Issuu is a great place to find illustration student thesis workbooks by the way. I’ll put some links to ones I found at the bottom of this article.


A digital interactive picture book is a children’s picture book in digital format with interaction like a video game. They are also referred to as interactive e-books. Tablet touch and swipe controls make them easy to use for children. Music, videos and sound effects can be added. Some books also use augmented reality and 3D models.

I came to the conclusion the following skills would be needed.

Story writing and Illustration are of course the most essential aspects. Other skills needed include animation, basic game development and sound design. More complicated or custom interactions need some coding knowledge. If you were going to do the augmented reality or include 3D, you would also need knowledge to create 3D assets or access to 3D models. The most complicated Interactive e-books are like video games based on picture books.

Often there is also a physical version of the picture book and the app is a companion or updated version of it. I found a good guide to what goes into making an interactive picture book here: Kotobee Guide.

I researched specialised software that can make digital interactive picture books. Most made to be easy to use with drag and drop functions and less emphasis on coding. Essentially they are very simplified game engines for a particular purpose. You could also use game engines to make them if you had the knowledge, so I’ve also listed some of the main ones. I also surmised you could make an online interactive picture book using HTML 5, so I’ve listed some software for that as well. Here are some links:

Specialised Software for creating interactive e-books

Pubcoder

TigerCreate

Kotobee

Kindle Kids’ Book Creator

Game Engines

Unity

Fungus Unity plug-in for story games

Ink

Twine

Squiffy

Quest

HTML 5 animation and interactive software

AdobeAnimate CC

Tumult Hype

Nodefire

Aphalina

Hippani

Saola Animate

Opus Creator

Motion Artist

WordPress Plugins

H5P WordPress HTML 5 interactive content plug-in

WP Draw Attention


This article was written as an introductory guide for anyone interested in this topic and to make a record of this research which took a lot of time to do. I would rather concentrate on the illustration and art side of things, but I hope this is useful to anyone who wants to make an interactive e-book from scratch someday. That would be no small task. I decided if I ever took on such a thing I would rather work as part of a team. I’m certainly interested in the format and hope to work on one in the future.

Disclaimer: I’m not being paid or sponsored to write this article (or any other I’ve written up to this date unless you clap on one of my member only articles here on Medium).
I’m an Illustrator and I have a blog and website at thimblefolio.com if you want to see my work. I would love for you to take a look.


For more try searching for “professional practice idea book Thesis Book Illustration Practice MFA MICA” on Issuu.

Mica Illustration Practice MFA Idea Book Jia Liu

15 MICA MFAILP thesis process book by Catherine Ho

Kaixin Wang ideabook

Jackie Zhu first year graduate study at MICA Illustration Practice

Yirin Guo Idea Book

Born To Be / Tianxing Wan Thesis Book

Cinyee Chiu / MICA Illustration Practice / Thesis Book 2016