Monthly Archives: November 2011

Illustration for Picture Books (level 1) Course Outline



You love children’s picture book illustrations and want to create your own, but what exactly is Children’s Picture Book Illustration? This Class will introduce you to classic and current key work in this art form, help you to develop your own unique style, teach you what to keep in mind when creating an effective illustration and main character and much more.


  • Establish a knowledge base of important work and artists in the field, covering both classics as well as contemporary work.
  • Expand your knowledge of what a picture book and picture book illustration is.
  • Create effective illustrations and main characters
  • Utilize pen and brush amongst other methods to create diverse styles of illustration
  • Become familiar with some components of Photoshop to help you create and send images digitally
  • Employ storyboarding and composition techniques
  • Become aware of layout, pacing of a story, as well the concept of the book as a whole.
  • Take into consideration synergy of text and image
  • Become more familiar and aware of your own illustration style(s)
  • Become familiar with the practical side; logistics and important habits to develop in the profession
  • Know what to keep in mind when approaching publishers, and developing your portfolio
  • Learn how to improve your illustrations through use of perspective, angles and use of shadow and light.


  • Slide presentations and lectures
  • Hardcopy and/or online handouts are provided
  • Additional resources are provided weekly via instructor’s blog on children’s picture book illustration
  • Presentations and lectures
  • Demonstrations
  • In class hands on exercises
  • Take-home research and technique assignments
  • Group and individual- critique and pointers
  • Learn on location: Field trip to local bookstore
  • Reviews and Critiques


  • Sketching and Drawing/ with attention to composition, layout, text placement and angles.
  • Experimenting with brushwork, pen and ink, mixed media
  • Studying of key artists and books —classic and contemporary— for examples of style and technique
  • Reproducing and altering illustration styles to help develop and enrich your own style
  • Computer basics: coloring, scanning, layers, colour modes, final file preparation
  • In class character development exercises
  • Illustrating various pieces of text
  • Illustrating the same text in various ways and styles.


To successfully complete the course, students are expected to complete all assignments according to the instructor’s stated requirements, attend at least %85 of the classes and participate actively in discussions and critiques.

  • Drawing experience of minimum drawing 101 class or equivalent
  • Completion of exercises and assignments
  • Positive and motivated attitude
  • Punctual attendance of classes


  • Attendance and participation in class
  • Participation in all exercises, critiques and discussions
  • Completion of all assignments within a specified deadline


1)Illustrating Children’s Books’ (By Martin Salisbury, Barron’s, 28.99$)

2)‘How to be an Illustrator’ (By Darrel Rees, Laurence King publishing, ~ 30$)

*both should be available at Oscars Artbooks on Broadway


  • a small selection of pens, pencils, markers, etc,.. that they like to work with.
  • a sketchbook or loose pages of paper
  • homework assignments from the previous class


Session 1

*Note: We will be working with ink in the first session. Please prepare for this in your attire should you be person who is prone to spill … ink does not wash out easily.

  • Introduction of students and teacher
  • Go over Course outline and goal expectations/ supplementary blog
  • What is the Picture Book? (Handout)
  • The many faces of the Picture Book
  • What we will concentrate on

In Class exercises:

  • Character Development exercise. (Handout)
  • The importance of drawing /Techniques. Ink, brush and pens. Thickness of line/line variation (Handout)
  • Story developing exercise/ Let your character tell you a story! (Handout)

Go over Homework assignment

Session 2

-Lecture/Image presentation:

  • A brief history of the children’s picture book and It’s most renowned illustrators
  • Learn through example. Images of classic and contemporary illustrators/authors, their work and lives
  • How do you ‘draw for children’?
  • Why illustration should be taken seriously, even when it’s funny

Session 3)

*(meet in the computer lab)

Working with the computer: a mini-intro to Photoshop: Demonstration and Exercise/Computer Lab: (Handout)

  • scanning drawings
  • adjusting contrast
  • colouring with bucket, selective color adjustment
  • layers (how to use layers for creating flexible compositions)
  • colour modes
  • tiff, jpgs, pdf’s
  • add to your drawings

Go over Homework assignment

Session 4)

Presentation of homework and critique

The importance of the main character:


  • The importance of the sketchbook
  • Sketchbook and character development process
  • Life is in the details—line, medium, color, …
  • Seeing an illustration process: Developing a full illustration from concept to rough, to sketch, alterations, to final.

Presentation: Storyboards and Dummy Books:

  • Pacing the story
  • Story layout.
  • Shots/Camera angles/Composition (Handout)
  • Dummy books: Examples of my own dummies for ‘Paulina’ and ‘Day it all blew away’.
  • Activity: Making a quick dummy book.
  • In Class Exercise: Composition Cheat (Handout): Copying composition/ ways to sharpen your sense of composition.

Go over Homework assignment

Session 5)

Presentation of homework and critique

Relationship of Text and Image: (Handout)

  • Examples of famous author’s/illustrators! Do you want to become an author/illustrator? The pros and cons.
  • Image presentation: Images and text that rely on each other for success

In Class sketching/brainstorming Exercise:

To illustrate is not to reiterate!’

Go over Homework assignment

Session 6)

In Class Exercises:

  • Character development exercise part 2: ‘3D-to-2D’
  • Illustrating a mood
  • Sequence of movements/ consistency of character

Presentation of homework and critique

Go over Homework assignment

Session 7)

  • Portfolios: How to put one together and what to consider.
  • Your online portfolio/getting a website: what to keep in mind.
  • How to approach publishers/promoting yourself— pdfs, promo cards and techniques
  • Agent vs. no agent.
  • First impressions
  • Contracts

Presentation of homework and critique

Session 8) (last class) Fieldtrip to Kids Books/Research

*Meet at ‘Kids Books’ (on Broadway in Kitsilano/ just past Mac Donald St)

(3083 West Broadway)

The right publisher/ the hidden contributors:

  • Finding the right publisher for your work.
  • Getting to know your market/Research
  • Go over any other questions students have
Filed under News

Strathcona Artist Survey

Yeah! The Strathcona Artist Survey that Alex Stursberg and Brennan Kelly compiled and designed is published and it looks totally awesooooome! And who do you see right after opening it up? Me! Well, … not me per se, but more my illustrations. The book looks great ( I looove the cover by Kelly) and it’s a fantastic idea to put the work of so many artists working in the Strathcona area into a nice little hardcopy paper gallery so to speak. There are sooo many cool artists and people in it, and I’m glad to be a part of it. You should check it out!

I really like the forword that Alex and Brennan wrote for the SAS zine/book, so I thought I’d share it.

“The Strathcona Artist Survey was developed with the intention of showcasing the diverse community of artists, both established and emerging, living in the neighbourhood of Strathcona, Vancouver. This volume was compiled and designed by Alex Stursberg & Brennan Kelly in October, 2011 with the hopeful intention that it will become a regularly published review of practicing artists in Strathcona. The Artist Survey moniker may be used freely for your own neighbourhood publication to help promote the arts in your community.”

Filed under News | Sketchbook & Projects


Yay, I finally managed to go to Canzine this year! (Totally snoozed it last year!) :(

Got there just in time to check out everything and chat it up with some buds of mine that were there. When I left I really felt like making a zine asap! Mission accomplished Canzine, Mission accomplished. Then I realized that I totally forgot to go downstairs!!! where there were was more cool stuff to check out. Dang! Oh well, next year I”m gonna go, AND go downstairs!

Here are some of the lovely little things I scored! The Strathcona Artist Survey (more on that soon), Pinch #2 by Anne Amberline, 2 super duper colaborations by Kurtis Wilson and Alex, and  It seemed like a good idea at the time #1. Plus I am now proud member of the Vancouver Book Club! Hurrah!

Filed under News

Teaching is serious(ly) fun!

I’m teaching a level 3 Illustration class now, which is probably teaching wise the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. It’s a class were you can create work for your portfolio and everyone taking it is amazingly talented and puts so much work into it. It’s a total pleasure to teach and see the work that my fantastic students make.

The other day I had everyone create a final spread for the the story of ‘Puss in Boots’. Since it’s an evening class and reading comprehension can be even harder at night but is also of such importance when it comes to creating effective illustrations, we took the story apart and laid it out in bullet form for everyone.

Before the class was over I looked at the board and thought it was a funny sight to see the story of Puss in Boots summarized in a class room context. So I decided to pose for a quite serious photo in front of it to accompany it’s integrity.

Filed under News

Promo Card For Lucky’s!

My favorite local comic book shop Lucky’s (on Main Street) has a new Online Shop ! It’s totally awesome looking and should you love comics, graphic novels, or just really amazing books in general, you had better check it out! To announce and celebrate this some illustrator/artist friends of Lucky’s made some promo cards. Check them all out here. I think my favorite one is the one with the blue cat hidden behind the house. But that’s not the one I did. Here’s the one I made. This is pretty much how I feel whenever I go there. :)

Yay Lucky’s!

Oh yeah! Also there is an official online shop launch party this Friday the 18th from 7-10pm. Hurrah!

Filed under News | Sketchbook & Projects