Children's Book Illustration

FACILITATOR 2011: Marjorie Van Heerden


This course will focus on the various challenges facing the illustrator and provide a step-by-step look at the process followed in the creation of an illustrated book for young children, with emphasis on the picture book.  It is aimed at published and unpublished illustrators and writer/illustrators of picture books. Although it is specifically aimed at illustrators, the course can also be beneficial for authors of illustrated and picture books.


Day One - How to draw children - a step-by-step look at the structure of a typical child’s body and how it changes from month to month, starting with the newborn baby up to children at the age of 16 years. A look at the child’s physical and mental development and how that can be incorporated into drawings of children. The difference between adult and child bodies, and then how to draw adults. How to draw animals. Then the participants practically make their own drawings.

Day Two - Characterisation; The process of the creation of characters for a picture book: children, people of all ages, animals, fantasy characters, the lot! Then the participants practically make their own drawings.

Day Three - A visit to Marjorie’s studio (153 Beach Road, Gordon’s Bay - 021 856 0432)

Marjorie will show the process of creating a children’s book including how to create a “dummy book” with rough illustrations. Also a look at the world of children’s book publishing, local and international; How an illustrator or writer of children’s books can submit/pitch their work. A look at a variety of children’s picture books -  A detailed analysis of a selection from Marjorie’s personal library of different types of children’s picture books and specific illustrations.

Day Four – An analysis of different illustration techniques and styles; A look at materials; The use of colour; The use of black. Then the participants practically make their own drawings, sketching under Marjorie’s guidance while focusing on space and background: How background creates a sense of place; The importance of the light source; The value of negative spaces.

Day Five – Each participant will have a one-on-one session with Marjorie, including a personal evaluation of their creative work and some individual guidance regarding their next steps.

While these individual sessions take place the rest of the group will focus on completing assignments and personal projects started during the previous four days.


Marjorie van Heerden grew up on a farm in the Hex River Valley in South Africa. From an early age she loved drawing animals and fairies and people and dinosaurs and children and dragons and monsters and today they appear in all shapes and sizes in the more than 80 books that feature her work. Since the publication of her first children’s picture book in 1983 she has been published as illustrator or illustrator/author in 33 languages in Africa, England, Europe, the East, Canada and the USA.
In 2008 Marjorie with the writer, Wendy Hartmann, won the M.E.R Award for Best Illustrated Children’s book, for Nina and Little Duck, published by Human & Rousseau (SA) in 2007 (also available in Afrikaans as Nina en Eendjie).  She is the Co- RA for SCBWI (SA)

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