Writing & Illustrating a Children’s Picture Book

Learn how to write and illustrate children's picture books for 2-6 year-olds from leading author-illustrators.

CBC photo


Jan 23 2019 - Apr 02 2019






Do you love to dream up stories and bring them to life through both words and artwork? Do you find yourself reading children's picture books and thinking, "I could do this ..."? For those who want to learn the techniques of children's illustration AND discover how to write brilliant stories for young kids - bringing both creative disciplines together as picture books for the age 2-6's - this is the course for you. Enrol for Writing and Illustrating a Children's Picture Book to get the combined course materials from our individual courses in writing and illustrating - and get feedback on your complete picture book at the end of the course. You can take part in this online course for all-comers from wherever you are in the world and at times to suit you.


David O'Connell

David O’Connell is a writer and illustrator living in London, UK.  His first book was Monster & Chips, the first of a series of funny (and revolting) adventures of ‘hooman’ Joe Shoe whilst working at the Monster Diner of friendly monster Fuzzby Bixington. He then collaborated with  Sarah McIntyre on the picture book Jampires, inspired by a comic they improvised together. He has also collaborated with Sam Watkins, Francesca Gambatesa and Tom Nicoll. His latest series is the Dundoodle Mysteries, illustrated by Claire Powell.

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.


This online course brings together the teaching materials from our two individual courses - Writing a Children's Picture Book and Illustrating a Children's Book for people who want to do both. If you love to write children's stories and to create the artwork for them, then join this course for expert advice from two established author-illustrators to help you improve your skills in both disciplines, to help you to produce the complete illustrations and text of your own children's picture book, and to learn how to raise your game and adopt an informed, professional approach in your dealings with the children's publishing world.

However if you are only looking to work on either writing or illustration, then check out the relevant single-discipline course (above-mentioned) instead. You can also take the individual courses in writing and illustrating one after the other, rather than choosing this combined course. If you're unsure which option is right for you, take time to read through the descriptions of all three courses, and email us on cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk or call us on (44) 207 3934201 if you have any questions you'd like to ask.

Our online course is led by the popular children's author-illustrators Sarah McIntyre and David O'Connell. The two are friends and have collaborated on the picture book Jampires (David Fickling Books) - as well as working individually and collaborating with others. Unusually, both Sarah and David are writers and illustrators, and the course features filmed conversation in which they talk about their work in both areas and offer insider tips - plus they discuss how each of them built their individual careers, how they came to work together, and the do's and don'ts of creative collaboration. 

The writing component of the course is led by David O'Connell, who shows you how to plan and write great stories and improve your style, while working within the tight word counts and format constraints that operate in picture books for the Under-6's. Sarah McIntyre leads the illustration side of the course - guiding you through the unwritten rules of children's picture book illustration - teaching and demonstrating on how to develop your ideas, refine your technique and build on your strengths. The course uses specially written and filmed teaching videos from Sarah and David - 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. Between them, David and Sarah give you the tools needed to write the complete text and produce the full 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). 

The course is suitable for complete beginners, but also for people in need of some extra know-how to succeed in finding a publisher for their work. It's also suitable for artists, illustrators and writers who have been working in other areas and forms but now want to move across to work on books for young children. And it would suit people who have already taken courses in illustration or in creative writing, 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 Writing and 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 write and illustrate children's picture books, and advising on the requirements of publishers. By the end of the course you should have produced your complete text and your full set of preliminary drawings for a children's book, and will be ready and prepared to produce your final illustrations. 

  • You’ll get ten Teaching Modules across the ten weeks (see schedule below for details), all delivered through our secure online platform.
  • You’ll watch specially filmed Teaching Videos from successful children's author-illustrators David O'Connell and Sarah McIntyre (at least three videos per module), including footage of Sarah drawing to demonstrate illustration techniques and ideas.
  • You'll watch a specially filmed discussion between Sarah McIntyre and David O'Connell - delivered in small video episodes across the course.
  • You’ll read extensive and practical Teaching Notes from Sarah and David (the course is underpinned by more than 40,000 words of original, specially written teaching material).
  • You’ll have access to additional Resources – 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 your writing and 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 and David, designed to help you progress the development of your writing and illustrative techniques, the planning of your story, the sketching of your thumbnail roughs, the writing of your final text and the creation of your full set of preliminary drawings - followed by your final illustrations*. You'll be posting your writing and 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 twice during the course (once for artwork, once for writing). 
  • At course end, we invite you to share – with us and fellow students – your complete story text and 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 both. With regard to the pencil roughs - we feel this is the most crucial stage for you to gain feedback - allowing you the opportunity to act on that feedback in producing your finished artwork (after which it is more difficult to 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 ten 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 children's book writers and illustrators

Wed 30 January – Tues 5 February
How to find inspiration and develop story ideas in writing

Wed 6 February - Tues 12 February
How to find artistic inspiration and develop ideas as illustrations

Wed 13 February – Tues 19 February
Creating characters and settings - writing

Wed 20 February - Tues 26 February
Creating characters, settings and worlds - illustration 

Wed 27 February - Tues 5 March 
Writing technique - finding the words 

Wed 6 March - Tues 12 March
Illustration technique: pencil drawing, painting, digital work and exploring other media

Wed 13 March - Tues 19 March
Writing: Planning your story & working to the 32-page format

Wed 20 March - Tues 26 March
Illustration: Planning your story and spreads - thumbnail sketches and pencil roughs

Wed 27 March - Tues 02 April
Next steps: professional development in both writing and illustration, how to approach publishers and agents; working on your final illustrations and creating a portfolio

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 £350.00