Children's Book Illustration

2017 Bk 4 Charlie cross eyed crocodile



Course Outline


Day One  -  Monday, 4 September

Introduction to the world of children’s books illustrators: the process; characterisation

  • Who are you? - The mind frame of an illustrator. Who are your audience/ Today’s children?
  • The process of creating a children’s book - To create a storyboard; to create a “dummy book”, with rough illustrations.
  • Characterisation - The process of creating characters for a picture book: children, adults, animals, and fantasy characters.

Day Two – Tuesday, 5 September

Fundamentals of Drawing

  • A look at the child’s physical and mental development and how that can be incorporated into drawings of children.
  • How to draw children - A step-by-step look at the structure of a typical child’s body and how it changes, starting with the newborn baby up to children of 16 years old.
  • The difference between adult and child bodies. - How to draw adults.
  • How to draw animals, monsters and other creatures.

Field trip – Day Three – Wednesday, 6 September

A visit to Marjorie’s studio (153 Beach Road, Gordon’s Bay - 021 856 0432)

A look at various art materials and techniques. A look at the world of children’s book publishers and analysing selected published children’s books.

  • A look at how Marjorie works in her studio.
  • A look at materials; various papers, drawing pencils, inks, watercolours, pastels, acrylics etc...
  • The use of colour.
  • The use of monochrome.
  • Analysis of different illustration techniques and styles.
  • A look at a variety of picture books - A detailed analysis of a selection of different types of children’s picture books and specific selected illustrations. 
  • A look at the world of children’s book publishing, local and international.
  • Tips on how one can submit/pitch your work to publishers.

Coffee /tea will be provided; students are responsible for their own lunchbox “some sandwiches...”


Day Four – Thursday, 7 September

A close look at visual backgrounds, light source and space in an illustration.

  • Backgrounds - How background creates a sense of place; the value of negative space.
  • Light source - The importance of the light source and tone in an illustration.
  • Practical session: (Exercises under Marjorie’s guidance) Characterisation sketches; creating a storyboard; creating a dummy-book with rough illustrations.

Day Five – Friday, 8 September

Creating a children’s book and one-on-one critique sessions.

  • Continuation of Day Four: Doing characterisation sketches; creating a storyboard; creating a dummy-book with rough illustrations. (Exercises under Marjorie’s guidance).
  • Concurrent one-on-one sessions with Marjorie - Evaluation and critique of each participant’s creative work and some individual guidance and pointers regarding next steps.

About the Facilitator



“I started making up stories when I was little and living on a farm on the Southern-most tip of Africa. I drew what I saw around me - animals and people and dinosaurs and children and dragons and monsters and fairies. Today they appear in all shapes and sizes in the more than 120 children’s books (in 34 languages) that feature my work. They’ve been published in Africa, England, Europe, Canada and the USA and the East in China and Malaysia.

Although my husband and I have travelled far and wide and even stayed for long periods in USA and Europe, we always returned to South Africa and we now live in Gordon’s Bay near Cape Town. Our two children are grown up and also live in the Cape. Our three granddaughters are already inspiring and constantly challenging me.

My work is my passion and I write and illustrate the world around me but I add a little bit of fantasy ...or is it real?

Amongst the awards for books I wrote and/or illustrated I received the M.E.R Award for best South African illustrated children’s book twice, in 2008 and in 2012 and in 2011 the Zulu version of Lulama’s long way home, a picture book I wrote and illustrated (Pan Macmillan publishers - 2007), “Uhambo LukaLulama Olude” won the W.B. Mkhize Award given by the Usiba Writers’ Guild.

I learnt about the SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – during our four-year stay in Greece and was co-founder of the Greek chapter of SCBWI. After returning to South Africa in 2003, I started the South African chapter and am the co-regional advisor. (

The last few years I have been very busy illustrating other writer’s stories and have not had the time to develop my own stories but the projects were so wonderful, I could not say no! …and so amongst other book I’m illustrating, I’m currently illustrating a series of books written by Jim Henry (USA) - The Adventures of Willy Nilly and Thumper (

For NB publishes under their Human & Rousseau imprint, I was one of the three illustrators that illustrated the StorieMuis (Story Mouse) Series of  6 Books by Leon Rousseau, (Human & Rousseau Publishers, South Africa).

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