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

The Art of Bunnies in Books – an Easter Illustration Celebration

With Easter just around the corner, I have taken the opportunity to explore rabbits, bunnies and hares in picture book stories, with my latest class, The Art of Bunnies in Books – an Easter Illustration Celebration. 

I’ve spent the past month, putting together a class that not only offers an opportunity to hone-in your drawing skills but also, to inspire you with illustrations and art from a wide selection of ‘bunny’ books, walking you step-by-step through the process of drawing, designing and illustrating animal-like, human-like and toy-like bunnies.

I’m super proud of this class, with 55-mins of inspiration, a bunny booklist, illustration templates and instructions on how to paint and draw bunnies galore The Art of Bunnies in Books – an Easter Illustration Celebration will be sure to get you in the mood for Easter!

‘The Grasshopper’s Dance’, Illustrated by Nina Rycroft

As you may know, bringing human qualities to animal characters is one of my favourite things to do, so having the opportunity to spend time researching and seeing how different illustrators approach anthropomorphism across time, has been absolutely eye-opening for me.

For as long as picture books have been in print, illustrators have used anthropomorphism as a technique to engage and connect to the reader. A balancing act of various degrees of animal/human qualities, from keeping the animal natural looking to having the animal behave, dress and even live in a human-like way. This class will show various degrees of anthropomorphic techniques and how illustrators across time have implemented them.

Full Moon - Water Colour illustration Nina Rycroft

An illustration from ‘The Grasshopper’s Dance’, by Juliette McIver, Illustrated by Nina Rycroft

I’ve illustrated the occasional bunny in my time, and have found them an absolute delight to work with. So if you enjoy picture books, illustration, bunnies and celebrating Easter with more than just chocolate, then this class is a must!

My new Skillshare class,The Art of Bunnies in Books – an Easter Illustration Celebration explores the popularity and the history of rabbits, hares and bunnies in picture books.

Aesop’s fable ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’

From early fables like The Tortoise and the Hare, to well-known characters like the Velveteen RabbitPeter RabbitMiffy and more, this class will inspire you with a time-line of picture book stories, illustration styles and techniques. You can also download a BUNNY BOOKLIST, listing all the books, authors and illustrators that I mention in the class, as well as links to purchase copies of the books. *only if the books are available online.

‘The Velveteen Rabbit‘ by Margery Williams

‘The Velveteen Rabbit‘ by Margery Williams

The Art of Bunnies in Books – an Easter Illustration Celebration gives you comprehensive instructions to try your hand at anthropomorphism, illustrating animal-like, human-like and toy-like bunnies. With over the shoulder instructions, I show you my methods to creating animal characters for picture books, taking you through the entire process, from ideas, drawing rabbits from photographic reference, all the way through to creating final Easter Celebration Illustration using watercolour.

Beginners and seasoned artists are welcome! though I would highly recommend basic knowledge in watercolour.

Easter Celebration Illustration by Nina Rycroft

Easter Celebration Illustration by Nina Rycroft


  • A Bunny Book List (featuring all the books mentioned in class).
  • Illustration Templates for the ‘Easter Celebration Illustration’, ‘Toy Rabbit’ drawings and ‘Bunny Sketches’ from photographs.
  • Material lists for each illustration project.
    As well as this, you will have  55-mins of over-the-shoulder tuition!

Nina’s velveteen toy rabbit inspired drawings

If you join The Art of Bunnies in Books – an Easter Illustration Celebration using this link, you’ll get a one-month-free-trial at Skillshare, where you can enrol in my other (11 character design and illustration) classes as well as take part in thousands of other creative classes.

As always, I look forward to sharing everything that I’ve learnt over the years illustrating character and story!

Enjoy your Easter preparations with books, bunnies and maybe a little chocolate – Nina 🙂


Post Format: Link

I wanted to take this opportunity to focus on the colored pencil techniques that I offer in my Illustration Masterclass – Exploring Technique and Style.

Illustration Masterclass – Exploring Technique and Style

I’ve made sure to cover a wide variety of style and technique, so if you’re wanting to try out colored pencil, this class offers the opportunity to explore a range of styles in a relatively short amount of time. From bold and playful to soft and delicate, the results are as different as (the feeling) and the process it took to complete them.


This expressive energetic illustration style is all about layering bold cross-hatching line in multiple directions. Starting with a soft color then, layering over the top with stronger pigments. Let’s say I’m coloring-in the girls hair, instead of using one yellow pencil, I use a family of yellow colors, from deep cadmium and gold, all the way through to burnt sienna and orange. Using a family of colors helps create the depth and richness I’m after.

This technique, requires a bold line and confident hand. I enjoyed the process of working at a fast rhythmic pace and getting results quickly.

Materials for Illustration One
Derwent Artist Pink Madder Lake 19-17
Derwent Deep Cadmium 19-6
Derwent Middle Chrome 19-8
Derwent Scarlet Lake 19-12
Derwent burnt sienna 19-62
Derwent Geranium Lake 19-15
Derwent Terra Cotta 19-64
Derwent Kingfisher Blue 19-38
Derwent Sky Blue- 19-34
Derwent Turquoise Green 19-40
Derwent Gold 19-3
Derwent Cobalt Blue 19-31
Derwent Deep Vermillion 19-14
Prismacolor light peach


This soft whimsical style of illustration is much more delicate that the previous style. When using this technique, think light and soft, brushing the pencil back and forth across the paper without putting any weight behind it. This technique is all about slowly building up the layers of color one after the other. I use the same cross-hatching technique as I did with the previous illustration however, I brush the sharp-tipped pencil across the paper changing the direction 45% for each layer.

To add interest, I create a textured pattern by drawing with a blunt pointed tool then laying the colored pencil over the top. This illustration required much more patience than the previous style and needs a calm approach. Once I found my rhythm, I enjoyed the process and found myself falling into a ‘flow’.

Materials for Illustration Two
Prismacolor light peach
Derwent Artist Pink Madder Lake 19-17
Derwent Raw Sienna 19-58
Derwent Geranium Lake 19-15
Derwent Deep Vermilion 19-14
Derwent Orange Chrome 19-10
Derwent Olive Green 19-51
Derwent Bronze 19-52
Derwent Sky Blue- 19-34
Derwent Light Violet 19-26 19-15
Derwent burnt sienna 19-62
Derwent Kingfisher Blue 19-38
Derwent Golden Brown 19-59


This playful, expressive style of illustration requires a child-like approach of fun and exuberance. It’s about being bold and brave, leaving perfection (and drawing inside the lines) at the door. This style is about finding the balance between play and precision. The line is confident and the colors are strong, with the excitement of creating child-like ‘scribbles’ with the wisdom that comes with experience.

This technique requires you to dive right in. You need to have total conviction with a sprinkling of play. Once I got this, I enjoyed the speed and excitement this illustration required.

Materials for Illustration Three
Derwent Spectrum Orange 19-11
Derwent Middle Chrome 19-8
Derwent Venetian Red 19-63
Derwent Burnt Yellow Ochre 19-50

Other Materials needed
Arches Hot-press watercolor paper
a compass
an eraser
a sharpener

If you haven’t already, use the links below to get started in Illustration Masterclass – Exploring Techniques and Styles
Premium Link

I’d love to see and hear how you get on. Did you enjoy the bold playful style, or did you prefer a more delicate timely process?

All the best with your coloured pencil adventure! – Nina