Children's Book Illustration School ?
Discover a natural way to illustrate a children's book,
from your first thumbnails to the final art
A self-paced, online course with 12 weeks of live interactions, Make Your Marks and Splashes! focuses on three core competencies that children's book art directors and editors will look for in your portfolio or illustrated children's story: Drawing, Composition and Color.
Discover in Mark's engaging video lessons how to make these skills your own. You'll know how to
- Compose and draw confidently
- Unlock beautiful color in your art
- Know, step by step, what to do when you land that assignment, or give yourself one to create illustration art for a children's story you love
Austin SCBWI friends admire the early page proofs for the picture book Grandfather Gandhi, by Bethany Hegedus and Arun Gandhi, illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers.) Pictured are authors and/or illustrators Greg Leitich Smith, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Bethany Hegedus, Jeff Crosby, Erik Niells, Julie Lake and Amy Farrier.
The Make Your Marks module shows you how to produce the living line art that will serve as the blueprint for your painting. You'll learn to
- Catch, delight and move your viewer's eye with good composition
- Create strong, interesting visual characters and draw them consistently from page to page
- Comfortably fit your story's 360° big round world into your small picture space so viewers believe your story scene
Phillip Wade, M.F.A., painting instructor at the The Contemporary Austin Art School demonstrates steps in his narrative oil painting.
The Make Your Splashes module shares the secrets of handling watercolor the easy (i.e. professional) way. Discover quickly how to:
- Master your 'watercolor language' with three basic brush techniques
- Paint with charm and assurance while retaining your personal style
- Control your colors so that every hue in your picture sings
- Never again feel bored, confused or limited by your color choices
A wealth of conversations...
To banish ignorance and inoculate you from naivete and wrong assumptions
In addition to lessons on craft, the course provides a front row seat to enough deep-dive encounters with illustrators and other kidlit publishing pros to fill six or seven conferences!
Video interviews and workshops immerse you in the decisions behind all the pictures that make it into the pages of an illustrated book. Few activities teach better than candid, informal talk, lots of it, with the right people.
Illustrator Laura Logan shares the adventure of her debut as an author-illustrator with her picture book little butterfly (HarperCollins.)
Some of the more than 50 creators you'll meet and learn from
Denise Fleming is the Caldecott Honor award-winning author-illustrator of many beloved picture books for the very young including, In the Tall, Tall Grass and In the Small, Small Pond (Henry Holt.)
Patrice Barton is the illustrator of the award-winning picture books MINE!
by Shutta Crum (Knopf, 2011) and The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Knopf, 2013) and Junior Library Guild selection chapter books.
Don Tate is the Ezra Jack Keats Award winning author and/or illustrator of more than fifty critically acclaimed books for youth. He's illustrated Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton (Charlesbridge, 2016) The Cart That Carried Martin by Eve Bunting, (Charlesbridge); Hope’s Gift by Kelly Sterling Lyons, (Penguin) and many others.
Aiko Ikegami is the author-illustrator of Friends (Albert Whitman and Company) and Seed Man (Sleeping Bear Press.) She's presently illustrating Why Worry? (West Winds Press) a reissue of the picture book by Erick Kimmel
Terry Widener has illustrated over 30 books, many of them recognized on state reading lists, ABA, SCBWI, ALA, and a number of Best Book lists. His first picture book, Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man by David A. Adler (Harcourt) was a Boston Globe – Horn Book Honor Book. Other books include The Streak by Barb Rosenstock, (Calkins Creek) and You Never Heard of Willie Mays?! by Jonah Winterr (Schwartz & Wade/Random House.)
Larry Day is an award-winning illustrator of both fiction and non-fiction. His 2014 release: Lion Lion, by Miriam Busch (Balzer + Bray) was named to NPR’s Best Books For 2014, and a Junior Library Guild Selection.
Janee Trasler has written and illustrated picture books and board books for HarperCollins, FSG, Scholastic, Sterling Publishing, LittleBrown, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, Zonderkidz, and Highlights for Children. Recent series include Bedtime for Chickees (HarperCollins) and Caveman, A.B.C. Story (Sterling)
Kelly Light is the author-illustrator of Louise Loves Art and Louise and Andie, The Art of Friendship (Harper Collins). Louise Loves Bake Sales and Louise and The Class Pet are the first readers in Harpercollins’ I Can Read program.
Kelly has also illustrated Elvis and the Underdogs and other Elvis books by Jenny Lee (Balzer + Bray) and The Quirks series by Erin Soderberg (Bloomsbury.)
First impressions more than count...
The Find Your Fit module shows you where and how to present your art to the decision makers – and network sanely in the community. These agents advise how to approach and work with them and how they'll assess your art.
Abigail Samoun, co-founder of the Red Fox Literary Agency talks with students on a Marks & Splashes hangout.
Nicole Tugeau, Tugeau 2
Rebecca Sherman, Writer's House
Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary
Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary
Melissa Turk, The Artists' Network
See how these art directors and publisher think about illustration...
Giuseppe Castellano, senior art director, Penguin Children's Books
Kristen Nobles, publisher
Page Street Kids
and former longtime art-director of Candlewick Press
Chris Schechner, art director
Schechner Graphic Design
Loraine Joyner, fomer art director
Nick Balian, illustration manager
Disney Publishing Worldwide
Enroll now for these extra bonuses...
Bonus # 1 The complete Going Pro with 'The Girllustrators' video workshop series
The Girllustrators are a group of smart, talented women artists who years ago "united for sharing, support, and shop talk in the field of children’s illustration."
Based in Austin, Texas, they push each other like professionals while simultaneously teaching and encouraging the KidLit community through their Tumblr blog, The Girllustrators that has attracted the notice of agents, art directors and editors around the U.S.
For five months between June and October of 2018 we had them to ourselves as they taught us on topics of keen interest to anyone striving to produce and sell artwork in children's publishing. Such as, What to leave in vs. what to leave out of a scene. How do you know when to stop, or push harder? How do you know when a picture is working? What's your checklist for evaluating your own and others' work? How to navigate the world of projects, assignments, agencies, and publishing houses?
In other words, the deeper workshops you've been looking for on craft and process, promotional strategies and career building for illustrators. The complete set of hangout recordings are yours as a bonus for enrolling in Marks & Splashes in this New Year promotion.
The series included a special two hours with Rebecca Sherman, an agent with the famous literary agency Writer's House (workshop #4.) Rebecca set up New York publishers' bidding auction that led to a two book contract for Girllustrator Vanessa Roeder (beginning with her debut picture book Lucy and the String, published last year by Simon and Schuster)
Workshop, #5 introduced Girllustrator Shelley Ann Jackson who now heads the children's book illustration department at Cambridge School of Art in Cambridge England. She presented on her school's curriculum and joined in the Girllustrators group group critique and debate on the question, 'is art school really necessary?' and the merits of college and community art classes.
Who are The Girllustrators?
Patrice Barton is the illustrator of the award-winning picture books MINE! by Shutta Crum (Knopf, 2011) and The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Knopf, 2013). Her chapter books include the Junior Library Guild selections The Year of the Three Sisters, an Anna Wang novel by Andrea Cheng (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) and The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard (FSG, 2009). She's represented by Christina Tugeau of The CAT Agency.
Marsha Riti has illustrated 12 books and all of the covers for the popular The Critter Club series of picture books for Simon and Schuster Publishing.
Lalena Fisher has designed characters and backgrounds for TV’s Blue’s Clues and The Wonder Pets, and created graphics for The New York Times. Her educational press clients have included Oxford University Press, McGraw-Hill, and Benchmark. Her first picture book, Pursuit of the Magic Piece was published in 2015. She's represented in children's books by Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Luz Marie Iturbe, fine artist, graphic designer a native of Mexico is writing and illustrating a series of apps that helps children learn Spanish as well as picture books teaching children about craft and traditions.
Shelley Ann Jackson is an author-illustrator, former Austin SCBWI regional adviser, and the founder of the Girllustrators. Still a member of the group she created, she now heads the MA Children's Book Illustration Program at the Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England.
Rivkah LaFille is an Illustrator, designer, and writer living in Manhattan and Austin, TX. Her graphic novel series, Steady Beat was nominated by the American Library Association for their Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. Rivkah's specialties are children's illustration, book cover layout and design, and hand-illustrated typography. Her clients have included Harper Collins, St. Martin's Press, The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, Cricket Media Group, Vertigo/DC Comics, Tokyopop, and various fashion, tech, and publishing companies.
Vanessa Roeder, aka Nessa Dee, has illustrated six picture books, including The Angel Guardian, Varla’s Gift, and Useless and for Highlights Magazine. A muralist, too, she creates art for children's magazines, picture books, and homes. She's represented by Rebecca Sherman of Writers House Agency.
Emma J. Virján is a graphic designer the author-illustrator of the popular Pig in a Wig picture book series, published by HarperCollins. She's represented by Edite Kroll of the Edite Kroll Literary Agency.
Bonus # 2 Drawing Basics Intensive video series with Cindy Wider...
Cindy Wider, is one of the internet’s most experienced art instructors teaching online since 2008 she is the co-founder of DrawPj.com along with her husband and fellow artist Stuart Wider.
Cindy’s unique method of teaching students how to draw is known as ‘The Cindy Wider Method’. The course which is based upon her method is the The Complete Online Drawing Course.
This year's Marks & Splashes course offers a series of remarkable "in house" trainings she did for us on her method – A generous eight hours of instruction by Cindy, with several downloads included. We're including it as a bonus for signing up this semester. You won't believe the results you get with her method!
Julie Lake, author and teacher
Mira Reisberg, Children's Book Academy
Wendy Martin, author-illustrator
Bonus # 3 The Julie's Story Town module on picture book storycraft
Although the Marks and Splashes course does not purport to teach picture book writing, per se, it offers a new bonus module this year, Julie's Story Town, to tease out the writer in you. Illustrators are all writers, even if we're just writing with pictures. And working with words is part of enterprise. Julie's Story Town module features elementary school teacher, library manager and published children's novelist Julie Lake on how picture books are used in school sand the classroom. She picture-walks us through some of the funniest, most beautiful illustrated books out there today and shows why educators and kids love them.
You'll find videos on thumbnail storyboards, cracking the picture book's secret code and making dummies to sell your stories, with guest instructors from the #KidLit Art team, Dani Duck and friends of Smart Dummies, author-illustrators Wendy Martin and Robert Quackenbush, and Mira Reisberg and friends at the Children's Book Academy.
Robert Quackenbush, author-illustrator
Bonus # 4 Have your homework checked...
This year we'll try out live, monthly lesson sessions with course creator Mark Mitchell to look at homework you'd like feedback on and how you're applying the exercises to your children's story or portfolio. This way you make progress on your personal illustration goals while going through and checking off the lessons in the modules. Want to join us for these informal group sessions? You'll receive a full year's access when you sign up!
An award winning children's book author, Mark has illustrated children's books and magazines. He teaches watercolor and children's book illustration classes at The Art School at Laguna Gloria, in Austin, Texas.
It's the online course you've been looking for...
To end beginner's syndrome...
Watercolor children's illustrators series
Four months of Guest Group Critiques
And these last-minute, fast action bonuses...
For those who enroll for the Fall, 2019 semester by Sat., August 24:
- Four months of Marks & Splashes Guest Group Critiques, complimentary online workshop sessions on children’s book illustration with guest instructors
- American Artist Watercolor complete vintage interview series by Mark Mitchell with 16 of the top children’s book illustrators who worked or work in water media (lavishly illustrated, PDF format)
- Complimentary second semester (Winter 2020) of live Marks & Splashes course interactive homework huddles with Mark
Homework huddles, complimentary semester
YES! I'm Ready To Get Started Now
Limited Time Offer
Here's What You Get When You Order Today:
Studio-classroom tested lessons and exercises (videos)
70+ videos (more than 100 hours) of discussion and learning with working illustrators, fine arts painters, children's book agents, art directors – and two publishers
'Lifetime' access to course content
Plus These Amazing Bonuses:
- "Going Pro with the Girllustrators" video workshop series (twelve hours)
- Bonus module "Julie's Story Town" to tease out the writer in you
- "Drawing Basics Intensive" video series with Cindy Wider of DrawPJ.com (eight hours)
- A full semester of live group "homework huddles" with course creator Mark Mitchell to review your progress
- Four free months of Guest Group Critiques (with new guest instructors)
- Interview series by Mark Mitchell with 16 top children's book illustrators known for their work in watermedia, including Caldecott Medal winners Jerry Pinkney, Emily Arnold McCully and the late Barbara Cooney. These lavishly illustrated articles in PDF format feature steps, processes, dummy pages and painting stages.
- An extra free semester (Winter 2020) of live group homework huddles with Mark
Where to Start to Find Your Illustrator's Voice
Here's What You'll Take Away From the Lessons:
- How to compose your picture thumbnail in 30 seconds (without ‘forcing it’)
- How to give your characters life from that first scribble
- An easy procedure that will help you plan your overall book design and each of your scenes (and you can use to diagnose your story's weak points).
- The mindset that lets you lay out your large final drawing as swiftly and easily as you did your thumbnail sketch
- How to keep your sketches alive all the way through the process, from storyboard to full sketches
- How to make a book dummy that will make an editor smile
- How to think outside the box with your initial sketches to surprise and delight young readers
- Know what to include and what to leave out in your picture
- How to simplify your art into more readable images that children enjoy
- How to keep your story characters looking consistent from page to page
- Enchanted color relationships to bring magic to your picture
- How to drastically shorten your learning curve and always be improving
- How to wisely navigate the business of creating art for children's publishers
- How to fluently speak the language of art in every picture
- How to wisely navigate the business of creating art for children's publishers
- And avoid the industry turning your work into a commodity
- And much, much more!
All orders 100% SAFE using our SECURE server
you've been looking for, to move you away from beginner's syndrome and put you on the path to professionalism
Q.What can I expect from the course?
A.You’ll be able to satisfactorily complete the illustration project you’ve set for yourself, be it a picture book dummy, partial dummy or some strong painted samples for a mailing or your portfolio, using the lessons as your roadmap.
You’ll come away with new strategies, skills and confidence in drawing, design, color and painting and a better understanding of the children’s publishing art market.
You’ll have the steps for proceeding with just about any assignment, from thumbnails to full-color final art.
Q.I've studied art. Will this curriculum be 'old hat' for me?
A.Many of our students have some college backgrounds in art or paint or have even worked in art-related fields. Some of the ideas taught here may be familiar to them. Many have reported that they appreciate the review and said that, though the course reintroduces some familiar essential concepts, it fills in important knowledge gaps.
Make Your Splashes is designed to help artists at all levels meet the challenge of pictorial composition, and support all students on their paths to publication.
Q.Can this online course be a substitute for art school?
A.No more than taking guitar lessons at a local music shop can substitute for earning a university degree in music.
Taking classes at an accredited college or professional art school is never to be discouraged. But for those unable to attend class ‘on the ground’, good online instruction offers a powerful alternative, providing access to information, ideas, demos and people quickly.
Still, you don’t need a degree in music to play the guitar, or write and record a song.
The same goes for painting a picture. Plenty of visual artists have been ‘home schooled.’ This course falls in a time-honored tradition of individual home study, informal classes and periodic workshops with teachers to develop craft.
Q.How long does the course last?
A.The course is self-paced and you have a lifetime to put the lessons to practice.
Q.How much is it?
A.In this introductory offer, your tuition is $300 upfront. Or you can pay $67 per month for five months.
Q.I've never taken an art class before and can't draw a straight line. Will I be out of my depth here?
A.If you’ve never taken an art course, you’ll find this an exciting introduction to drawing, painting and children’s book art.
"I just had to let you be the first to know (well, after my husband)...I sold 5 illustrations!!!!
"I will retain the rights to the illustrations too.They are for online use by author Susanna Hill (she has about a dozen books) She has developed an online how to writing course. She wanted to have some illustrations to complement the text and be story-starters. She has work from 6 or so artists included - and WOW, I'm one of them! She saw an illustration (Grumpy Cat) on my blog. One thing led to another ...She asked to see more illustrations and was very complimentary. Anyway - just wanted to share the news and thank you so much for all you have done for me -instruction wise, confidence wise and career wise. I am polishing some pieces and hoping to submit somewhere for
consideration in a month or two.
"I've joined SCBWI and will be working on my artist page. Thanks again, Mark. I'm off to do a happy dance."
I wanted to share something that happened at the SCBWI Northern Ohio conference on the 18th and 19th of this month:
We were sitting in the ballroom on Friday evening for the opening remarks from the keynote
speaker who was Loraine Joyner, senior art director at Peachtree Publishers.
She was giving everyone tips and pointers for our hopeful careers in the children's book world. She recommended taking on-line classes to work on our craft, and then she paused and asked if anyone in the audience had heard of Mark G. Mitchell. I, of course,
raised my hand. So she looked at me and asked if I had taken your class, and I said, "yes." She then asked if it was worth it, and I replied, "Absolutely. It was the best money I have ever spent!"
(Fortunately, I didn't have to think about it, because it's so true).
So I just wanted you to know that your fame is spreading! Hopefully, some new students will make their way to your electronic door as a result of Loraine's impromptu advertisement. Sometimes, it's a small world out there.
Anyway, thanks again -- I feel I am constantly benefiting from all your tireless efforts on behalf of your students.
Your video's are like gold treasures!
I'm taking drawing 2 as one of my electives in school. My instructor is a young ____ woman who is going back to ___ after this class, she has been here 5 yrs to gain her masters degree.
She is a wonderful artist but can not teach. It has been so frustrating giving up 6 hrs every Sunday and not learn anything new. She gives an assignment and expects the class to figure it out looking at her example.
Last Sunday was perspective and I left there so confused.
Your perspective videos are so clear and help to put into practice what you are teaching that I am able today to draw the bedroom where Rosie (the puppy in my book) is hiding under the bed, there is a dresser and a window in the room and it is totally believable! I'm so excited!!
Honestly, I believe you are God sent in my life.
Thank you for all that you are giving to your students!
A very grateful 60 yr old,
P.S. Use part or all the text and use my full name if you want.
Heck, I'll provide my first born if that will help get the message out about the value of every email, tutorial or feedback you provide.
I really believe you are one of the most valuable assets in my life, Mark, especially on my journey to getting that first children's book out of me and on paper.
I just finished the session #1. I really loved it though it was difficult > for me to scribble. Your session is so much more than I thought. I really love the spiritual aspect of your art lessons. I am electrified.
Hopefully I can wake up my inner artist. I am grateful that I am being able to take your course. Just wanted to thank you.
I must say that when I started your class I stepped into another world. I had taken a few art classes before but your lessons and all of the tremendous amount of information on illustrators, videos, interviews, critiques, techniques, ebooks etc.
I feel I have entered into a delightful world of interesting and gracious folks that do hard and worthwhile work but fun. Thanks for all the work you do in making this happen.
Look forward to Thurs. critique night.
Best to you,
"I know I hated my textbooks in school and wish all textbook illustrators could just go through your course once!"
+Mark Mitchell Thank you for making color theory actually make sense!! I know I should be working on the assignments from the first few lessons first but your course seems to read like a blockbuster that I just can't put down . So I peeked in to the other lessons and I was hooked on to color theory.
I’m so grateful that you’ve made this course available to someone like me. I’m really learning to pull my painting together with each lesson I do. I’ve been trying to incorporate each new exercise I learn into one painting, as you might tell from the photo I included in this email.
The next stage in my painting is to darken the painting by adding more tree trucks to the background, in watercolor only. I’m trying to keep in mind the amount of dominate color, which is blue/green, and balance the light, dark and midtones.
The wolf will be the darkest subject. The only thing will draw in ink will be his eye. His eye will have a deep redish iris. As soon as I’m finished I will post it on Wiggio for critique.
Thanks again for offering such a wonderful course.
"When I took Mark's class, I was at best a doodler with a desire to draw well but without the background or drive to work really hard towards my goal. The class environment was very supportive, with students taking their cues from Mark's way of finding the good in your work and his gentle way of helping you see where you could improve."
"I'm still in touch with some of those students, and we look back at how far we've come since then. But I remember that class as my first real step towards taking my art seriously. More than that, with Mark's help I created a piece that is still in my portfolio and which still draws great reactions from people who see it."
Erik Niells, writer, iillustrator, teacher designer and comics artist, Austin, TX
"I'm contacted from time to time by illustrators who are starting out or need a jumpstart and want to know where to begin. If they are remotely local, I always highly recommend your AMOA class. I took it over 8 years ago (WOW) as my first introduction to children's book illustration and it's still the most helpful resource I've ever tried. I learned SO much."
“Now that you may be offering it online, the "local" bit won't matter!"
“I have always felt like you taught me how to do a jigsaw puzzle--taking the mystery out of the pieces of the process and giving me the technical know-how so I could put it all together and focus on the creating.
Laura Logan, Illustrator, Austin, Texas
"If there is anything you want to learn about illustrating children's books, Mark Mitchell is the teacher for you. I took his course at Laguna Gloria Art School in Austin and it was fantastic. He taught us everything: laying out the book, making the drawings, creating and using a color wheel based on a four-color process, using water color techniques, getting published, and marketing your book. Mark appears to be very laid back, but he has a real knack for organizing and presenting information, and he gives excellent feedback to help his students build their skills. I am so looking forward to his online class."
Linda Seder, Artist, Austin, Texas
Your course has given me a new burst of energy and excitement. I feel like a child again playing with the paint and my own imagination, but with a much firmer foundation. I can now actually understand why a painting I gave up on didn't work. It's amazing.
It's a sense of freedom I've never known before.
"In all of my research (on-line and in books) in the last several years, I have never come across a clearer, more work-able approach to color that can be applied practically to a painting...and I have looked far and wide for this information, recognizing that it was of major importance.... The need for a sustainable, predictably successful approach to color, for illustration as well as fine art, became crystal clear to me when I switched from oil painting to watercolors...the old 'keep messing with it until it's right' approach just was NOT working with watercolor... (Is this the 'shadow' side of watercolor's wonderfulness...unforgiving??)
"As you predicted, the results are immediately recognizable. I heave a huge sigh of relief!
"In HUGE appreciation,
"Mark Mitchell is a delightful teacher. Each class brings a wealth of practical information yet coupled with plenty of time for releasing your creativity to produce viable images. His sense of humor makes the time fly by and you quickly forget how bad your back hurts from sitting on those bar stools!"
Diane Carr, counselor and life coach, Austin, Texas