Illustrating a Children’s Picture Book

Want to illustrate children's books? Learn the tricks of the trade from a leading professional illustrator in our online course for all-comers.

CBC photo


Jan 23 2019 - March 05 2019






Do you love drawing pictures for children, but want to find out how to raise your game and shape your work for publication? Is your imagination peopled by lively characters and colourful worlds that you want to bring to life visually on the page? Or are you an artist who wants to develop a new string to your bow? Our Illustrating a Children's Picture Book course will teach you how to evolve your ideas, sketches and art into finished children's picture book illustrations for 2-6 year-olds, and help you to raise your work to a professional standard. And you can take part in this online course from anywhere in the world and at times to suit you.


Sarah McIntyre

Sarah McIntyre works as an illustrator and writer from her studio in south London. Her solo picture books include There's a Shark in the Bath, Dinosaur Firefighters and The New Neighbours, and she's worked with writers such as Giles Andreae, Gillian Rogerson, and Alan MacDonald. She first got into publishing through comics, where she met her Jampires co-author David O'Connell.  These 'comic jams' eventually led to a Jampires comic, which they later took to a publisher and turned into a picture book.


If you enjoy sketching for the young children in your life - or if you like coming up with stories visually rather than verbally - or if you're an artist with an interest in children's fiction who's looking to shift your focus - then you may just have the makings of a children's illustrator. Kids get excited by the Gruffalo, Charlie & Lola, the Very Hungry Caterpillar and the Wild Things long before they can read the words - it's the artwork which first grabs their attention and pulls them in. This course demystifies that lovely mixture of childlike simplicity, technical sophistication and sheer imaginative zing that goes into the best picture book illustrations - and helps you to acquire the skills, confidence and insider information to achieve a professional standard in your own artwork for the under-6s.

In our online course, the bestselling and prolific children's book illustrator and author Sarah McIntyre guides you through the unwritten rules of children's picture book illustration - advising on the current market and what publishers are looking for; teaching you to recognise and build on your strengths and refine your technique; encouraging you to experiment in different media; showing you how to develop ideas and create memorable characters, and revealing some great tricks of the trade. 

The course uses specially written and filmed teaching videos from Sarah, featuring practical demonstration of many of the techniques and methods discussed - plus notes, resources and weekly tasks. It takes place on our secure online learning platform, with dedicated forums for students to share and discuss their work. Sarah's teaching gives you the tools to create a complete set of illustrations for a picture book (for the under-6's). Students will be given written feedback on their work at course end from a member of the CBC editorial team (see below for details). 

Our course also features filmed conversation between Sarah McIntyre and her friend, the author and illustrator David O'Connell. Sarah and David worked together on the picture book Jampires (David Fickling Books) - and here they talk about creative collaborations and their experiences of writing and drawing children's picture books. David is also the writer and presenter of our companion course: Writing a Children's Picture Book.

Open to all-comers, the Illustrating a Children's Picture Book course is the right choice if you are looking for expert advice on creating the illustrations for picture books for the under-6's. If your focus is on writing, take a look at our Writing a Children's Picture Book course with David O'Connell. If you would like to develop as a writer and illustrator, you can either start off with one of these courses, and then take the other course at a later date - or you can enrol now for the combined course - Writing and Illustrating a Children's Picture Book, which brings together the teaching materials from both courses at a discounted price.

The course is suitable for complete beginners, but also for people who feel they need some extra know-how to succeed in finding a publisher for their work. It's also suitable for artists and illustrators who have been working in other areas and media but now want to move into children's book illustration - and for people who have already taken courses in illustration or in children's fiction, whether at universities or through non-academic course providers. You do need to be at least 18 years old to join the course. 

If you'd like to join us for Illustrating a Children's Picture Book, simply enrol and pay by midnight on Monday 21 January.  

What does this course give you?

This is the most practical of courses, teaching you how to illustrate children's picture books, and advising on the format and number of spreads/pages liked by publishers. By the end of the course you should have produced your complete set of pencil roughs for a children's book, and will be ready and prepared to produce your final illustrations. 

  • You’ll get six Teaching Modules across the six weeks (see schedule below for details), all delivered through our secure online platform.
  • You’ll watch specially filmed Teaching Videos from successful children's illustrator Sarah McIntyre (at least three videos per module), including footage of Sarah drawing to demonstrate techniques and ideas.
  • You'll watch a specially filmed discussion between Sarah McIntyre and author/illustrator David O'Connell - her friend and collaborator on the book Jampires - delivered in small video episodes across the course.
  • You’ll read extensive and practical Teaching Notes from Sarah (the course is underpinned by more than 20,000 words of original, specially written teaching material).
  • You’ll have access to additional Resources – uploaded PDFs which are collected in a dedicated area of the learning platform to support the teaching topics and provide useful reference material for the students. These include a reading list, a glossary of useful children's publishing terms, and a template showing how a children's picture book should be set out.
  • You can share artwork, comment on other students' work and communicate with others and with us in the Forum. Our learning platform features separate forum spaces for each teaching unit, arranged in a clear structure that’s easy to use. This enables students to quickly find and take part in discussions and to easily locate task materials they’d like to refer back to. The forums are moderated by the CBC team, who also provide technical support.
  • You’ll undertake weekly practical tasks set by Sarah, designed to help you progress the development of your technique, the planning of your story, the sketching of your thumbnail roughs, and the creation of your full set of pencil roughs - followed by your final illustrations*. You'll be posting your artwork in the forums and we encourage students to offer positive, constructive feedback as the course progresses. Each week, a reader/editor from the CBC team will be viewing the work posted and offering some focused comment on a few students' work - so that every student will receive written feedback on a task at least once during the course.
  • At course end, we invite you to share – with us and fellow students – your complete set of pencil roughs for your children's picture book - produced with the help of the course. All students will receive written feedback from the CBC editor on their set of pencil roughs at this most crucial stage of the process - giving you the opportunity to act on that feedback in producing your finished artwork (after which it is more difficult to respond to feedback and make changes).  NB. This is not a submission to the Curtis Brown or C+W agents but should help you to prepare your work for submission to publishers and agents. 
  • You’ll have continued access to all of the teaching videos and notes after the course ends so you can refer back to them at any time as you continue to work on your final illustrations (NB we anticipate that this will take longer than the six weeks of the course*)

*Students who would like to gain further written feedback from a CBC editor on their final illustrations may do so by sending them to the CBC team within 3 months of the end of the course, and on payment of a further £100 fee (full information about this extra feedback service will be given to students during the course)


Wed 23 January – Tues 29 January
Discovery: Studying the market and learning from the work of other illustrators

Wed 30 January - Tues 5 February
How to find inspiration and develop ideas

Wed 6 February – Tues 12 February
Creating characters and settings 

Wed 13 February - Tues 19 February
Technique: pencil drawing, painting, digital work and exploring other media

Wed 20 February - Tues 26 February
Planning your story and spreads - thumbnail sketches and preliminary drawings

Wed 27 February - Tues 5 March
Next steps: professional development, working on your final illustrations, creating a portfolio, and how to approach publishers & agents

Students to receive feedback on their picture book texts shortly after the end of the course


Pay and enrol

If you are purchasing this course for yourself, please click on the 'Pay & Enrol' button below. The deadline for enrolment is Monday 21 January.

If you would like to purchase a place on this course for someone other than yourself, please click here to buy a gift voucher. Read terms & conditions here. 

Join the Course

Full participation in this online course.
PRICE £200.00