Children's Book Illustration School Spring 2021
Discover a natural way to illustrate a children's book,
from your first thumbnails to the final art
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. In this standout video course you'll see how to
- Draw with more confidence
- Unlock beautiful color and design in your art
- Know exactly how to proceed with your picture book dummy/proposal or children's story illustration assignment
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 packs the essential lessons for creating and composing your line art – the blueprint for your painting. You'll learn to
- Arrest, delight and move your viewer's eye with strong design
- Invent compelling visual characters and portray them consistently from page to page
- Easily fit your story's 360° big round world into your small picture space so viewers believe your scenes
The Make Your Splashes module shares the secrets of handling traditional watercolor the easy (i.e. professional) way. Discover how to:
- Master your 'watercolor language' with four brush techniques
- Paint with charm and assurance while retaining your personal style
- Never again feel bored, confused or limited by your palette choices
- Control your color mixes so that every part of your picture sings
A Wealth of Conversations
In addition to the video lessons on craft, the course provides in-depth encounters with illustrators and other children's publishing pros – enough to fill four or five conferences! Immerse yourself in the decisions made behind the pictures. These recorded interviews, workshops and group critiques with author-illustrators, agents and art directors will help banish naivete and challenge wrong assumptions.
Illustrator Laura Logan shares the adventure of her debut as an author-illustrator with her picture book little butterfly (HarperCollins.)
And you don't have to do it alone
The live-stream Homework Huddles provide important feedback on your work and keep you on track in lessons. You'll see how to apply the ideas to your story art and speed up your progress on the course and your illustration goals.
Live Huddles occur weekly each semester for 10 weeks. The Spring Semester begins Thursday, March 11 and runs through Thursday, May 6.
Fun is nature's reward for learning, and learning is guaranteed in these informal weekly work sessions with course creator Mark Mitchell.
Award winning-author Mark Mitchell has illustrated many children's books and magazines and teaches classes in children's book illustration and watercolor painting The Contemporary Art School in Austin, Texas.
Some of the more than 50 creators you'll meet and learn from
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.
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.
Terry Widener has illustrated over 30 books. 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 Winter (Schwartz & Wade/Random House)
Kelly Light is the author-illustrator of the Louise series (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).
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.
Janee Trasler has written and illustrated picture books and board books for HarperCollins, FSG, Scholastic, Sterling Publishing, Little Brown, 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)
Carolyn Dee Flores illustrated Canta Rana Canta/Sing Froggy Sing, and wrote and illustrated The Amazing Watercolor Fish, A Surprise for Teresita and Dale Dale Dale, all published by Arte Publico/Piñata Books.
Laura Logan is the author-illustrator of Little Butterfly (HarperCollins) and illustrated Two to Cuddle by Eileen Spinelli (Worthy Kids) and The Bill Martin Junior Big Book of Poetry (Simon & Schuster).
First impressions more than count...
In Advanced Content, The Find Your Fit module shows you how to present your art to the decision makers – and sanely network in the community. Experienced children's book art directors and agents advise how they'll assess your art and how to approach and work with them.
Abigail Samoun, children's book agent, co-founder of the Red Fox Literary Agency talks with students on a Marks & Splashes hangout.
See how these agents and art directors think about illustration...
Nicole Tugeau, Tugeau 2
Merial Cornell, Cornell & Company
Rebecca Sherman, Writer's House
Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary
Melissa Turk, The Artists' Network
Nick Balian, illustration manager
Disney Publishing Worldwide
Giuseppe Castellano, art director, Penguin Children's Books
Michelle McCann, editor/art director
West Margin Press
Kristen Nobles, art director Charlesbridge Publishing
Simon Stahl, art director
Loraine Joyner, fomer art director
Chris Schechner, art director
Schechner Graphic Design
Going Pro with The Girllustrators
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."
Watch as the Girllustrator team tackles:
- What to leave in vs. leave out of a scene?
- When should you stop, or push harder?
- When is a picture working?
- How to evaluate your own and others' work?
- How important is art school?
- How to navigate the world of projects, assignments, deadlines, agencies, and publishing houses?
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), the Junior Library Guild selections The Year of the Three Sisters, by Andrea Cheng (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) and The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard (FSG, 2009).
Marsha Riti has illustrated 12 books and all 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.
Luz Marie Iturbe, fine artist, graphic designer and 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 Children's Book Illustration Graduate Program at the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University.
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. 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 seven picture books, including The Angel Guardian, Varla’s Gift, and Useless and for Highlights Magazine.
Emma J. Virján is the author-illustrator of the popular Pig in a Wig picture book series, published by HarperCollins.
Drawing Basics Intensive
Cindy Wider, is one of the internet’s most experienced art instructors. She's the co-founder of DrawPj.com along with her husband and fellow artist, Stuart Wider.
Cindy’s ground-breaking method of teaching students how to draw is known as ‘The Cindy Wider Method.' Dive into this unique series of video trainings Cindy did for us on her method – eight hours of instruction, plus several downloads.
(left) Color pencil art by Cindy Wider
Julie's Story Town
Let our bonus module, Julie's Story Town, tease out the writer in you. This module features elementary school teacher, library manager and published children's novelist Julie Lake on how picture books are used in schools and the classroom.
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.
Julie Lake, author and teacher
It's the course you've been looking for...
To end beginner's syndrome and help you find your illustrator's 'voice'
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 at the college level. 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 substitute for art school?
A.Taking classes at an accredited college or professional art school is never to be discouraged. But if you can’t attend class ‘on the ground’, good online instruction offers a powerful and quick alternative to information, ideas, demos and people.
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 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. You have a lifetime to put the lessons to practice. Choosing the interactive version of the course includes ten weeks of live-streaming Homework Huddles with course creator Mark Mitchell.
Q.How much is it?
A.Your tuition for lifetime access to the course and a semester of live huddles with course creator Mark Mitchell is $397.
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 a most exciting, possibly life-changing 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've joined SCBWI and will be working on my artist page. Thanks again, Mark. I'm off to do a happy dance. Laura Miller
I wanted to share something that happened at the SCBWI Northern Ohio conference.
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). Tracy Molitors
Your videos are like gold treasures! Honestly, I believe you are God-sent in my life. Mary Martin
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. make me feel I've entered into a delightful world of interesting and gracious folks that do hard and worthwhile but also fun work. Jean
I wish all textbook illustrators could just go through your course once! 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 color theory! Pooja Srinivas, Hyderabad, India
Your session is so much more than I thought. I really love the spiritual aspect of your art lessons. I am electrified. I am grateful that I am being able to take your course. Just wanted to thank you. Aiko Ikegami
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... 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. But I remember that class as my first real step towards taking my art seriously. Erik Niells, animator and web design consultant, Austin, TX
I'm contacted from time to time by illustrators who are starting out or need a jump start 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. 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, TX
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, TX
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! Susan Sorrell Hill, Northern California
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, TX
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. Linda Bray