The University of the arts

Children's Book Illustration
The University of the Arts

CE 2303N 01 Children's Book Illustration

CE 2303N 01

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Adam Gustavson



Spring 2018

  • (Feb. 1 to Apr. 12)
  • Thu 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
  • 0.00 Credits
  • 0.00 Credits
  • Tuition: $330 / Fees: $20
This class is designed for illustrators looking to tailor their portfolio to target children's book agents and publishers. You will develop new portfolio pieces with a focus on narrative and promotional materials. Examine the works of contemporary illustrators and discuss techniques, materials and style. You should come to the first class session with examples of your work and a sketchbook.

Course Overview

This course will concentrate on the process of book illustration and design, beginning with basic pagination and progressing into thumbnailing, reference gathering, development of finished sketches, and the creation of final art. The variety of approaches afforded by this art form will be stressed; students will be encouraged to seek out various inspirations within this wide ranging discipline, all the while refining and streamlining their studio work habits. We will begin with an overview of book illustration with respect to design, pacing, and visual style. Drawing from either song lyrics, a nursery rhyme, or a memory, we will thumbnail out an entire narrative, select 2‑3 images for development into tight sketches, and create one piece of final art.

What will you learn in this course?

At the end of this course, students will have learned to anticipate industry expectations in working on a children’s book project, and will have created no less than one stand-alone piece for inclusion in their portfolio, with a clear road map to produce others. Students will be exposed to various media and working methods, and will be more acquainted with the children’s book market and industry practices, both creative and business related.

What will you do in class?

  • Lectures and discussions
  • Sketchbook Assignments
  • In‑class work and exercises
  • Critiques
  • Students are expected to work outside of class on their projects in order to fulfill the learning objectives of this course.

What topics will be covered?

  • Examples of children’s books (focus on “types” as well as aesthetic variety)
  • Process (manuscript, research, thumbnailing, reference, sketches, finals) Layouts (self-ended or otherwise, spreads vs full page, etc.)
  • Photo reference
  • Sketching process
  • Media and aesthetics
  • Promotional techniques; developing a personalized studio work flow
  • Portfolio development

Suggested Readings or Links to other content

There is no required text for this course. Examples and handouts will be introduced to the class, and students are encouraged to bring in books and other inspiration (artists, individual works of art and photography, etc.) throughout the session.

A working knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) would be beneficial, but not required.


Students will bring their own materials to class. Supplies will vary, and will likely build from week to week, but at minimum students should be equipped with:

  • Digital camera (preferably not inside your phone, though a recent phone can suffice)
  • Sketchbook (9x12 or 11x14 recommended)
  • T‑square and/or ruler
  • Pencils/erasers

Additional media to be considered: paint and brushes (oil, acrylic, gouache, watercolor, etc.), supports (paper, canvas, board), collage materials, colored pencils, pastel, charcoal and conté crayon.

Suggested, but not required: laptop computer or tablet. The course will take place in a studio outfitted with computer workstations.

    • childrens book illustration gustavson student meglemieur knightstory illo1 2016 jpeg
    • childrens book illustration gustavson student allysacastle 2oldman 2016 jpeg
    • childrens book illustration gustavson student heather vaughan fence 2016 jpeg