Perfecting Your Dummy: How to Amp Up Your Text, Illustration Style, Technique & Page Design for Successful Submissions 2019

October 31 - November 3, 2019


Create and prepare your picture book dummy for submission to agents & publishers.

Whether you are working on your first picture book or reinventing yourself to renew your enthusiasm, this workshop will help bring out your unique personal expression to craft an exciting, lively dummy.

Floyd Cooper and Melanie Hall will guide you in preparing a picture book dummy and using media to create final art:

  • Decide what media you will use
  • Find the style of working that expresses your authentic self
  • Watch demos in painting, pen and ink, collage, and printmaking to reveal a new world of artistic possibilities
  • Enrich your current style by opening up your vision to different approaches and techniques
  • Experience creative breakthroughs as you experiment with different media and discover new ways to express yourself

Their goal for the workshop: help you create a beautifully designed dummy, finish one piece of final art, and experience creative breakthroughs.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to decide what images to illustrate.
  • How to choose media for illustrations.
  • How to make good compositional choices for the greatest dramatic impact.
  • Find ways to update page designs.
  • Explore new media techniques.
  • Learn an art director’s point of view of the publishing process.
  • How to work with digital media.
  • Ways to prepare your picture book dummy for final submission.
  • How to work with your own artistic and book-making strengths.
  • Review the basics of creating a dummy for a 32-page picture book.
  • Faculty will work with you individually to help you discover and showcase your strengths.

Who Should Attend

This course is ideal for illustrators, or author/illustrators who:

  • Have an idea for a picture book.
  • Have a partially finished picture book manuscript.
  • Have a finished picture book manuscript.
  • Have not begun sketching a picture book dummy.
  • Have a partially finished picture book dummy.
  • Are an experienced illustrator who would welcome an opportunity to renew their enthusiasm.
  • Want focused help to get their project ready for submission to publishers.
  • Would benefit from the shared experience and expert tips of our experienced faculty.
  • Have taken one of these previous workshops with us: Picture Book Illustration: From Conception to Birth; the 2018 Crafting a Picture Book Dummy course; Illustration Intensive; Crash Course in Children’s Publishing and Color, Light, Line & Texture. This workshop is a perfect opportunity to build on what you learned in those courses.
  • Because the workshop is project-based, previous attendees are welcome to return!


When you arrive at this workshop, faculty will have reviewed your project description and sample art if you submitted it beforehand. On the opening morning, they will work with you to identify your goals for the weekend and follow that with close supervision throughout the weekend.
Day 1
Arrival, check in, orientation

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner:
Introduction: Illustration with Heart and Soul with Floyd and Melanie-
My Story: A creative warm-up to get acquainted.
Floyd and Melanie talk about creative breakthroughs.

Day 2

Opening session:
Floyd and Melanie discuss the basics of creating a dummy, and show their processes from sketches to dummy.

  • Pacing and page distribution
  • Word association/sketches
  • Page design—importance of good composition, what makes a successful spread? marriage of text and image
  • Storyboards (thumbnail sketches)
  • Dummy preparation, show examples of dummies and published books

Studio Time

Show Us What You’ve Got: Portfolio and Project Review
Floyd and Melanie will meet everyone individually to review portfolios and projects. (If more portfolios need to be reviewed, there is more time at 1pm.) Note: portfolios consist of 6-8 pieces of art.


John Kascht Demo

Studio time: Begin/revise book dummy

(Portfolio review overflow if needed)

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner:
All About Floyd and His Work
Fun Group Activity

Day 3

Morning session: Floyd Cooper Demo

Studio Time


Afternoon Session: Melanie Hall Demo

Studio time
Complete your dummy and begin final art/art prototype. Floyd and Melanie will be roving mentors.

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner:
Melanie Hall, Whimsical Artist
Fun Group Activity

Day 4

Final touches on project
Questions for Floyd and Melanie

Discussion: Getting ready for submission

Exhibition of Book Dummies and Final Art

Lunch and Farewell


An interview with Floyd Cooper & Melanie Hall
Interview with Floyd Cooper
Floyd Cooper Talks With Roger Sutton
Coffee & Conversation With Floyd Cooper
Melanie Hall’s website
Floyd Cooper, featured on New York Times: Live Illustration series


  • Paul, Ann Whitford. Revised and Expanded Edition Writing Picture Books
    A Hands-On-Guide from Story Creation to Publication
    . Cincinnati: Writerʼs Digest Books,
  • Salisbury, Martin. Illustrating Childrenʼs Books Creating Pictures for Publication.
    London: Quarto Publishing, 2004.
  • Shulevitz, Uri. Writing with Pictures How to Write and Illustrate Childrenʼs Books. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1985.
  • Withrow, Steven and Lesley Breen Withrow. Illustrating Childrenʼs Picture Books
    Tutorials, Case Studies, Know-how, Inspiration
    . Cincinnati: Writerʼs Digest Books, 2009.


“Floyd Cooper and Melanie Hall maintained a relaxed, but work-focused atmosphere in which it was easy to converse with them and the other attendees. I never came this close to completing a dummy before. Because of them I feel like I know where I’m going and what I’m doing.”

“Melanie and Floyd were amazing. They gave excellent feedback on our projects and I could tell they took the time to understand our projects and prep for the workshop so we could get right to work. Best instructors ever!”


Floyd Cooper

Floyd Cooper is the Coretta Scott King award-winning illustrator of more than 60 books for children. Floyd started his career…
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Melanie Hall

Special Guest Melanie is a children’s book illustrator, fine artist, and college professor. She has called the Hudson Valley home…
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John Kascht

Special Guest John Kascht was lauded by the the National Portrait Gallery as “a keen and insightful observer of human…
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Marie O’Neill

Special Guest Marie O’Neill is Creative Director for editorial at Highlights for Children, where she leads the overall design sensibility…
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All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Free shuttle service is available from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AVP) International Airport.

We offer payment plans as low as $75/month. We'll be in touch with details after you register.

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workshop information

Begins on Thursday, October 31 with dinner, and ends on Sunday, November 3, with lunch.