So You Want to be an Author/Illustrator? Online Course 2020

June 4 - July 30, 2020

Online Course Info:

This is an eight-week online course featuring live sessions with faculty, pre-recorded lectures, structured assignments, peer critique, and a faculty critique of your finished picture book dummy.

Join Us Online To:

Explore the possibilities of becoming an author/illustrator: finding ideas, sketches to story ideas, narrative drawing, pagination, thumbnail sketches and creating a picture book dummy.

This course is divided into 8 sessions:
Scroll down to see a detailed agenda.

  • Session 1: Meeting, Sketching and Sharing
  • Session 2: How to Turn an Idea Into a Story
  • Session 3: What Makes a Picture Book?
  • Session 4: Polishing the Story
  • Session 5: How to Make a Dummy
  • Session 6: Teacher Feedback on Revisions and Plans for Dummy
  • Session 7: Dummy Submissions
  • Session 8: Dummy Reviews

Please note: our online courses use the Thinkific platform, so when you click to register, you’ll land on the Thinkific site and you’ll register there.

What You’ll Learn

During this workshop you will:

  • Find out how to get ideas and keep them flowing.
  • Use story sketches to spark ideas.
  • Examine the elements of a picture book.
  • Discover how to leave room for the illustrator–even if you are the illustrator.
  • How to paginate your story and use thumbnail sketches to create a dummy.

Attend If:

  • You would like to try to create both the text and illustrations for a picture book. This course aims to help you with both ways of storytelling!
  • You’re ready to devote some time to learn and practice. This course offers long-term support over 8 weeks and allows you to learn at your own pace.


This course is divided into 8 sessions:
Week 1: Meeting, Sketching and Sharing
LIVE Zoom session: Course Overview, Introductions, “Let’s Draw” Presentation.
Assignments: Character sketches (free and prompt based)
Discussion, Sharing of Sketches and Poll

Week 2: How to Turn an Idea Into a Story
Pre-recorded video: How to Find the Story
LIVE Zoom session: After watching the video, we’ll meet and discuss favorite character sketches and brainstorm ideas.
Assignments: emotion drawings, elevator pitches and where is the universal love connection?

Week 3: What Makes a Picture Book?
Pre-recorded video: What is the Story? Plot, character development and emotion in 32 pages and under 500 words.
Assignment: first draft of the story
Share first draft of the story text with faculty

Week 4: Polishing the Story
Pre recorded Presentation: Page Turns and Plot.
LIVE Zoom call with faculty and peers to read aloud stories
Assignments: Paginate your story, create thumbnails/storyboard, create one full color piece.

Week 5: How to Make a Dummy
“How to Make a Dummy” resources
Assignment: complete your first dummy
Discussion board: open for questions and to share

Week 6: Teacher Feedback on Revisions and Plans for Dummy
LIVE Zoom calls to discuss questions and progress

Week 7: Dummy Submissions
Finish your dummy and submit it!

Week 8: Dummy Reviews
Pre-recorded video: Revision–the Best of Times, the Worst of Times
Peer dummy review & discussion
LIVE Zoom call to celebrate! Q&A with faculty.

After the course:
Optional: submit revised dummies to faculty.


Crafting a Picture Book Dummy
How to Write a Picture Book (When You’re An Illustrator)
Breaking Through Those Creative Blocks
Illustrator Inspiration from Shadra Strickland & Kelly Light (video)

Faculty & Special Guests

Courtney Pippin-Mathur

Author/Illustrator Courtney Pippin-Mathur creates humorous and heartfelt books for kids, including Maya was Grumpy (Flashlight, 2013), Dragons Rule, Princesses Drool…
Learn more