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 🙂


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?