Picture Book Illustration e-Course with Nina Rycroft

Following this years Pilot Program, I’ll be hosting two Picture Book Illustration e-Courses in 2018. 

The 6-week e-courses will commence on
Thursday 22nd February, 2018 finishing Thursday 29th March 2018 and then again on,
Thursday 18th October 2018 finishing Thursday 22nd November 2018.



Picture Book Illustration e-Course

The Picture Book Illustration e-Course (PBIC) will walk you through the entire process of illustrating a picture book from start to finish. Offering support, guidance and projects to keep you on-track while you develop your story. With weekly lessons, printable resources, set projects and feedback (on coursework) from me and the online community.

During the 6-weeks, I will share the process that I use when working on a story from generate ideas, designing character, developing a storyboard, all the way through to producing a final artwork. With weekly projects designed to keep you on track and to bring you ever closer to your picture book dream.

The process of illustrating Florence Fox

You can either choose to work on Ben Whittacker-Cook’s‘Florence Fox Goes To School’ manuscript or your own story, using the course resources, support and feedback to pace yourself and to kick-start your project.

A Little About Me

I’ve been illustrating picture books since my first publication Little Platypus receiving a CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) Notable Book Award in 2000. Since then, I’ve had more than a dozen picture books published worldwide, winning some awards along the way.

I’ve enjoyed teaching picture book illustration since 2007, using interactive white boards and video conferencing technology to deliver talks and workshops to schools across Australia with Literature Live!  (2010 – 2012). More recently, I’ve been teaching regular character design and illustration classes with Skillshare (since May 2016) having taught more than 10,000 students to date.

Nina Rycroft’s Picture Books

Course Outline

WEEK ONE offers an overview of the course, its online community and how I got started. I then take you through the physical mechanics of a picture book, discussing layout, format and the things you’ll need to consider before starting work on your story. I then show you how to gather inspiration, showing you how to organise your collections into workable resources.

Generating Ideas for the Florence Fox character

WEEK TWO gives an overview on the picture book characters. I’ll then walk you through the character design process. First we list our character’s physical and emotional traits …

Character Mapping for Florence Fox

exploring multiple character design options, staring with the face, then working the character as a whole, focusing on the entire body.

Florence Fox character ideas

We will then work on a character map. As picture book illustrators, you’ll need to be able to draw your characters over and over, and in multiple positions. A character map not only helps you understand what your characters looks like from every angle, but it also helps keep characters consistent throughout the story.


WEEK THREE we start developing our thumbnail sketches, jotting down ideas quickly and easily, looking at our visual stories as a whole and learning how to use different layouts, text breaks and illustrations to influence the pace, rhythm and flow of your story …  

Thumbnail sketches

and because we’re now bringing movement to our characters, I’ll share some simple techniques to bring your characters to life. This will set you up for next weeks storyboarding session.

Bringing Florence Fox to life

WEEK FOUR offers an overview on the importance of storyboarding. We’ll discuss book formats, and then start working our thumbnail sketches into a larger storyboard format. Adding in detail, learning about composition and the need to consider both the image and the text. I’ll also discuss setting and how this can dramatically change the tone and mood of your story.


Developing a storyboard

WEEK FIVE is when you set up your final illustration, keeping in mind crop-marks, bleed, the gutter, cleanliness and most importantly readability. We will discuss different illustration techniques  then start applying this to your final artwork.

‘Florence Fox Goes to School’ illustration layout

WEEK SIX is the final week. By now, you have designed a character, developed a storyboard and produced a final artwork for your story, sharing your journey with your online community. So, to wrap things up, we will be discussing “What Next?”

Picture Book Illustration e-Course Showcase

Following the completion of the Picture Book Illustration e-Course, you’ll be invited to submit illustrations to feature in the Picture Book Illustration e-Course Showcase, celebrating illustrations created over the 6-weeks. The showcase will be posted and shared across multiple online platforms.

Will I complete a picture book by the end of the course?

Illustrating a picture book is a marathon not a sprint, it can take me anywhere for 3-months to 3-years to illustrate a story, so I don’t expect anyone to finish a picture book in the 6-weeks. Instead, look at this course as an opportunity to get a real understanding of your story, to expand ideas, map out characters, develop a storyboard, to build your skillset and confidence as an illustrator and to connect with a like-minded community.

Online Community

A key part of the PBIC success is the online community designed only for students who have taken part or are taking part in the Picture Book Illustration e-Course. As well as a place to post and discuss weekly projects, I’ll be popping (for the duration of the course) offering feedback, guidance and the occasional ‘live’ feed.


Following the completion of the Picture Book Illustration e-Course you will…

  • have the option to stay in touch with the online PBIC community.
  • have lifetime access to the Picture Book Illustration e-Course video’s.
  • have access to the Picture Book Illustration e-Course printables.



Do I need to draw like you?

The most exciting thing about picture books is that they offer a wide variety of styles and techniques.  Across the 6-weeks, I’ll be encouraging you to gather inspiration from a wide variety of sources to help you discover (or solidify) your own visual ‘voice’ … whatever that may be. Whether your style is naive, emotive, graphic or cartoon-like, I want you to be able to celebrate you and to be able to bring this to your story. During the course I’ll be drawing and demonstrating with my illustration style – because thats what I am most comfortable with. If you’re still in the process of exploring illustrations styles, you may find your work influenced by me as your work through the lessons and projects. This is perfectly natural, and its all a part of the learning process. Eventually, as you gain more confidence you’ll learn ways to translate what I teach and make it your own.

Who Can Enrol?

The Picture Book Illustration e-Course is open to all levels as it is designed to allow you to take your individual skill set and build on that.

You may have no art experience, just a great story idea or you may like to learn how to translate your fine art, etchings, collage, appliqué etc … into the picture book format. Perhaps you are an animation or design student, wanting to up-skill or break into the publishing market with a comprehensive portfolio piece. Or maybe you’re looking to self-publish or to find a publisher. You might be working on a competition piece or perhaps you’ve just signed your first picture book contract and you’re looking for some guidance.

Either way this course is the perfect accompaniment for your creative project, designed to keep you on track, expand your story ideas and offer support while you to develop your project.


Can I publish my e-Course illustrations?

  • If you are working on your own text, manuscript and/or story this is yours.
  • Can I use my ‘Florence Goes To School’ character designs and illustrations for my own personal portfolio? Yes you can. As long as you credit Ben Whittacker-Cook as the author.
  • Can I publish my ‘Florence Goes to School’ character designs and illustrations as a picture book, an e-book, or for my own personal book? Absolutely not. As the author of ‘Florence Fox Goes To School’ and the creator of the Florence Fox character, Ben Whittacker-Cook has allowed the Picture Book Illustration e-Course to use his unpublished manuscript ONLY for your personal and creative development.
  • Can I send my ‘Florence Goes To School’ character designs and illustrations to a publisher? Yes, as long as you credit Ben Whittacker-Cook as the author.

What does the Picture Book Illustration e-Course offer?

  • cohesive weekly videos sessions.
  • Weekly feedback from your online community (and me) throughout the duration of the e-course.
  • Ongoing community support from other PBIC members that will continue even after the e-course is complete.
  •  (While you wait for class to begin) you’ll have free access to my ‘Face Shapes’ Skillshare class.
  • A marketing feature in the Picture Book Illustration e-Course Showcase video.

What Next?

If you would like to be put on the waiting list for the Picture Book Illustration e-Course (21st February, 2018  – 6th March 2018), send your email address to nina@ninarycroft.com . In December, I’ll be announcing enrolment intake to the waiting list one week before announcing enrolment intake on other social media platforms.

The cost of the Picture Book Illustration e-Course is US$247.00 to be paid in full to reserve your place. Numbers are limited to 100 students per course, so if you don’t make it this round, you’ll be first on the waiting list for the Picture Book Illustration e-Course commencing 18th October 2018 – 22nd November 2018.

  • In you email, if you could let me know
  • how you heard about the course
  • What you hope to get out of the course,
  • and whether you’ll be working on your own text or the course manuscript.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Nina x