• $399.00 – Program Price
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Program is fully booked

Deep Dive into Children’s Book Illustration: A Two-Week Artist Intensive

With James Ransome, Anna Raff, Ruth Chan and G. Brian Karas

June 4 - 18, 2021

Program is fully booked


Online (Facilitated)

COVID Reschedule/Refund Policy
What’s the difference between Highlights Foundation workshop types?


2 weeks (June 4-16)




This two-week intensive is all about support, accountability, and a deep dive into craft for illustrators who are serious about:

  • moving their career forward, and
  • getting their work ready for publishers, art directors, and agents.

Join illustrators James Ransome and Anna Raff for assignments, progress check-ins, small group discussions, live reviews of works-in-progress and portfolios, demos, and live Zoom sessions. You will also have an opportunity for valuable feedback on your work during a 1:1 critique with faculty at the end of the course.

A basic portfolio (digital or print) is encouraged. A work in progress or dummy is not necessary, but you can use it as a basis for critique if you have it.


Finding your unique artistic style will help your illustrative voice connect with children across the globe. Picture books and illustrations help children see themselves, their communities, and their families in story, plus learn more about their growing world.

Why do we mention this? Learn about the Highlights Foundation mission.


  • You are a serious illustrator or author/illustrator who is getting ready to start submitting. This course will ensure that your work is ready to share with industry professionals.
  • You have a formal background in art or come to it with organic training, and would like to revitalize your portfolio, and/or find a more individual artistic voice.
  • You love creating picture books and are ready to push your work to the next level.
  • You are looking for more than just general feedback on your work. James and Anna will offer you more direct review of what areas of your portfolio or project need target revision.


This course is best for illustrators who are looking for accountability and community. There are 5 live lectures, digital check-ins, plus 1:1 consultation and critique at the end of the course.

Participants should submit 5-10 pieces to faculty for review by Sunday, 6/13 in advance of the 1:1 critique sessions. The 1:1s will be scheduled between June 16 and June 18 at a time that is mutually convenient for you and the faculty.

(Note: If your schedule does not allow you to attend all live sessions, that’s OK! You’ll have access to the recordings. They’re usually posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through July 30.)

Trying to figure out how this course fits into your schedule? Read some ideas about planning for the right level of commitment.


During this workshop you will:

  • Have opportunities for feedback on your illustrations and portfolio
  • Complete independent assignments to explore narrative storytelling
  • Learn strategies for color, composition, and drawing to communicate visual ideas
  • Explore new digital and traditional techniques to strengthen your illustration
  • Participate in activities to refresh and deepen drawing fundamentals
  • Have opportunities for networking and creative collaboration
  • Receive valuable 1:1 critique and feedback


Friday, June 4

  • Live Zoom kickoff with introductions (7-9pm Eastern)
  • Hand out first assignment

Saturday, June 5

  • Live Zoom session with special guest (12-2pm Eastern)
  • Meet to review portfolios (samples) in Zoom small groups (2pm-3pm Eastern)

Sunday, June 6-Wednesday, June 9

  • No live meetings
  • Work days with digital check-in from faculty

Thursday, June 10

  • Work day for students
  • Live Zoom meet and review first assignment (7-9pm Eastern)
  • Hand out second assignment

Friday, June 11

  • Work day for students
  • Live Zoom session with special guest (7-9pm Eastern)

Saturday, June 12

  • Work day for students
  • Live Zoom Panel (12-2pm Eastern)

Sunday, June 13

  • No live meetings
  • Digital check-in
  • Sketches for either or both assignments are due for review before 1:1s. During the 1:1s, James and Anna can also look at a range of your work, including your website if you have one.

Monday, June 14-Tuesday, June 15

  • No live meetings
  • Work days with digital check-in from faculty

Wednesday, June 16

  • Work day for students
  • Final Zoom session with sharing, Q & A, and details regarding 1:1s (7-9pm Eastern)

June 16-June 18
1:1 reviews/critiques, scheduled individually

Nervous about critiques? See how the Highlights Foundation approaches the process here.

A note about workshop agendas and how they change and evolve.


James Ransome’s website
Anna Raff’s website
James Ransome interview
James Ransome: Working with Watercolor
James Ransome: Building a Drawing
James Ransome: KidLitTV
An interview with Anna Raff on the Creative Shift podcast
Let’s Get Busy Podcast: Interview with Anna Raff and Charise Harper
Seven Impossible Things Interview with Anna Raff
Breaking Through Those Creative Blocks, Anna Raff
Ruth Chan’s Website
Ruth Chan’s Instagram
Ruth Chan Interview on Mr. Schu’s Watch.Connect.Read
Ruth Chan Interview on The Children’s Book Podcast
Ruth Chan Interview on KidLit 411


“Faculty was wonderful! It helped that there were five different illustrators with very differing styles and thoughts, and that we were able to interact with them one on one and in the smaller group atmosphere.”

“I appreciated the forthright comments in the one-to-ones, especially that they pointed out what was working well and clearly explained why other elements did not work and/ or worked against what I was trying to accomplish.”


James Ransome
James E. Ransome is the award-winning illustrator of over 75 picture books. He has been illustrating books, book jackets, greeting…
Learn more about James Ransome
Anna Raff
Anna Raff is an award-winning illustrator of several books for children including The Day the Universe Exploded My Head, World…
Learn more about Anna Raff
Ruth Chan
Special Guest Ruth Chan is an illustrator and author of books including Where’s the Party?, Georgie’s Best Bad Day, The…
Learn more about Ruth Chan
G. Brian Karas
Special Guest G. Brian Karas is the illustrator of over 100 picture books for children, and has written and illustrated…
Learn more about G. Brian Karas