So you want to learn how to illustrate a picture book?

So you want to learn how to illustrate a picture book?

Well here’s your chance!

The classes that I’ve been producing on Skillshare this past year are a breakdown of the many processes that I use when developing characters for a picture book. From the things that I need to consider before starting work on a story, designing character, all the way through to deciding what illustration technique will be most suitable for the final artwork.

To make things easy for you, I’ve listed my classes in the sequence that I use when producing illustrations for a story. Work your way through, and you’ll be well on your way to producing your very first picture book publication. Skillshare are now offering a one-month FREE trial, so all you need to do, is click on the links below to join me in class.


‘101 Guide to Picture Books’ will give you the framework for everything you need to consider before starting work on a picture book.

101 Guide to Picture Book Illustration

‘Face Facts – a Beginners Guide to Drawing a Self Portrait’ is a chance to brush-up on the basics in face proportion, so that you can start illustrating characters with confidence.

Inês Mateus’ self portrait.

‘Face Shapes – Explore Character Using 9 Simple Shapes’ is the perfect kick-start to any character design.

Face Shapes Skillshare Class

‘101 Guide to Drawing Eyes’ allows you to hone in on your character, exploring the shape, size and the placement of the eyes, and seeing how these small tweaks can dramatically change age, look and style of your character.

101 Guide to Drawing Eyes

‘Emoji Me – the Art of Drawing Facial Expression’ walks you through the six basic emotions and then some. If you’re illustrating a story, this class is a must!

Emoji Me – The Art of Facial Expression

‘How to Draw the Head from Every Angle – Part One’ shares simple techniques that will help you draw yours character head every which way.

How to Draw the Head From Every Angle

‘How to Draw the Head from Every Angle – Part Two’ will save you hours and hours of mistakes and frustration. Making a mini-model of your character’s head, will not only help you understand character but it will also help you draw your character accurately and consistently while working on a picture book.

Polymere Clay Model

‘How to Draw the Head from Every Angle – Part Three’ walks you step-by-step through the process of drawing your characters head from every angle, creating valuable character reference.

Drawing a characters head from every angel

‘Draw a Circus of Characters – Exploring Body Shape and Body Proportion’ takes you through the process of drawing a set of characters for a story using three simple steps.

‘Illustration Masterclass – Exploring Technique and Style’ gives you the opportunity to experiment with a wide variety of illustration styles and techniques.

Illustration Techniques Master Class


I have some exciting new classes in the works, including my next class ‘Draw a Circus of Movement’ where you’ll learn how to bring your characters to life with movement and gesture. In this class, you’ll explore body posture, exaggeration, line-of-action and other techniques that will have your characters balancing, lifting, walking, skipping, running and leaping right off the page!

If you have an idea for a character or a picture book story, my classes offer the opportunity for anyone who has always wanted to illustrate a picture book, but needs guidance; for anyone who is in the process of illustrating a story but needs encouragement; or just for anyone who wants to draw and explore and see where it takes them. The lovely thing about these classes is that you can work at your own pace and in your own space, practicing new skills, all the while working on the bigger picture – your your picture book publication.

I look forward to seeing you in class and if you have any questions or even an idea for a future class, please drop me a line. I’m alway happy to help. – Nina

What Can Pooh Teach Me About Shape And Design?

In my new class Draw a Circus of Characters Exploring Body Shapes and Proportions, Winnie-the-Pooh characters are used to explain the importance of shape in character design and how shape can be used to make a first (and lasting) impression. In this class I use the set of Winnie-the-Pooh characters to show how shape can be used to as a device to help distinguish one character from the another and how shape is used to relay and visually enhance a character’s personality.

In this class, I use A.A. Milne characters to demonstrate how a successful set of characters have evolved across time (1920’s – current) and media (picture book – screen) to align with a new, more modern audience.

Here are some fun facts that I found out about Winnie-the-Pooh along the way.

  • During World War I, a Canadian soldier named Harry Colebourn made a pet of a black bear cub he bought from a hunter for $20. Named Winnipeg (or ‘Winnie’ for short) the bear became his troop’s mascot and later a resident of the London Zoological Gardens, where Christopher Robin (son of author A.A. Milne) loved Winnie so much that he named his own teddy after her.

  • Unlike Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore, and Tigger. Rabbit was not based on a toy owned by Christopher Milne.
  • You can see all of the real plushies that inspired the characters at the New York Public Library, with the one exception, Christopher Robin lost his Roo toy in the thirties.

  • In the 1920s, A.A. Milne began writing collections of stories and poems that became the booksWhen We Were Very Young – which introduced a bear named Edward and a swan named Pooh.

  • At first Milne was reluctant to hire a political cartoonist E.H Shepard to illustrate his collection of stories. Taking the initiative, Shepard created a portfolio of sketches for the stories. Even visiting the Ashdown Forest for inspiration for the setting of the stories. He then turned up unannounced at Milne’s home, handed over his portfolio and won the approval to illustrate all of the stories we know so well.

  • Owl and Rabbit were created by A.A. Milne and illustrator Ernest Shepard only to add a little more variety to the character list.

  • In 1961, Walt Disney purchased the motion picture rights from A.A. Milne’s widow, Daphne.
  • Being empathetic to the original illustrations (and toys), Disney redesigned the original characters for a series of Winnie-the-Pooh shorts in theatres in the late 1960s.
  • In 1977, the trio of Winnie the Pooh shorts made up Pooh’s first movie releaseThe Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

  • Pooh remains Disney’s second best-selling character after Mickey Mouse.

  • The 1980s the Winnie the Pooh characters were brought up-to-date for two television shows,Welcome to Pooh Corner and The Mini Adventures of Winnie The Pooh where Christopher Robin became a 6-year-old tomboy named Darby.

    What do you think about the changes in the Winnie-the-Pooh characters?

Why I Make a 3D Model of My Characters

Drawing my characters’ head rotating on the X, Y and Z-Axis


When creating a new character, I like to start by using my hands to quickly and effectively sketch the shape and form using clay. My view… I’m experiential learner and making a 3D model takes me through the process of building my character from the ground up. The tactile experience of adding, pressing and shaping the clay offers a multi-sensory experience and offers me a deeper understanding of my character.