Thursday, 19 April 2018

This is an invitation to join us for a two-day course on Illustration Characterization.  
But, please note that we have limited space and, should you be interested in joining us, it is important that you book your place as early as possible.

The A–Z to Illustrating Believable Characters for Children’s Books 

(- an informal, interactive, lecture-based course, followed by a practical workshop -) 

Presented by Marjorie van Heerden, assisted by Samantha van Riet.

The goal of this two-day course, where the main focus is on picture books,
but not excluding other types of children’s literature, is to learn
how to develop and illustrate believable characters - from start to finish.

Note:   This course is primarily aimed at children’s book illustrators, but anyone interested, is welcome to attend (it will be limited to 12 participants). Also, please note that this is not an official SCBWI (SA) event.

* Please see information on dates, times, venue and booking fee below.
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This course will focus on the various challenges facing the children’s book illustrator, with specific focus on the visualisation and visual interpretation of the characters.  It will be a step-by-step analysis of the process followed, starting with the visual conceptualisation, the rough drawings, and eventually the finished art. This will be done with the main, central character(s) as well as the secondary and minor characters.

The content of this course is designed for published as well as unpublished illustrators and writer/illustrators of children’s books. Although it is specifically aimed at illustrators, the course can also be beneficial for authors of children’s books.

Day 1 (Sat 2nd  June): (compulsory): An informal, lecture-based course.
Day 2 (Sun 3rd June): (optional): A practical hands-on workshop, under Marjorie’s guidance.

Day one: (compulsory)

The following main areas will be covered:
•         How to find the necessary information, from the words written down by the author, of exactly who and what these characters are - you must get to know the characters intimately.
•         How to research all possible details (visually and scientifically) about these characters that may not be covered by the author – you must also get to know the characters objectively.
•         How to stay true to the information reflected in the author’s words. But also to extend that information – to read between the author’s lines in order to visually create a dynamic character.
•         How to analyse the background and the physical environment in which the character(s) exist – how to identify a sense of place. This sense of place is implied or created verbally by the author, but the illustrator must analyse how that environment will influence each character physically and mentally.
•         How to identify, visualise and illustrate for each main and secondary character, their individuality in terms of: their body shape and physical characteristics, their facial and body hair, their clothing and accessories, their personal body language, their personal facial expressions, their personal quirks/mannerisms/eccentricities, their interaction with the other characters, their actions, their attitudes, their emotionality, and so on...
•         How to analyse the development/growth of each character during the progression of the narrative. And then, how to illustrate this visually.
•         How to research and then draw on paper the physical qualities of different characters, children, adults, animals, fantasy characters, monsters and so on. The physical qualities, in all aspects, starting from the skeleton outwards...
•         A look at a selection of well-known children’s book characters and a discussion on why these are so popular and so loved... or so hated, or so feared... But in all cases, so essentially unforgettable and absolutely enjoyable...

Day two: (optional, but a very important part if you want the full benefit of the course)

On the second day the course will continue as a practical workshop:

•         A look at various sources of inspiration for the children’s book illustrator and/or writer/illustrator. A practical session of doing rough drawings and translating those rough drawings into final black-and-white or full-colour illustrations.
•         The course will conclude with each participant, if they so choose, showing their portfolio and/or the work they had been doing during the two days. This will lead to some comments and feedback from the facilitators and the other participants.

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Venue:       Marjorie’s studio (Gordon’s Bay - address/directions will be sent to you if you’re interested in attending)
Date:          Saturday, 2nd  and Sunday, 3rd of June 2018
Time:         Daily from 10h00 to 17h00
Cost:          Day 1 (Sat 2nd  June):  R550
Day 2 (Sun 3rd June): R250 (optional)
RSVP:       (before Monday 7th May 2018) to Samantha at
Note:          Limited space is available > we will work on first come first serve bases. Tea/coffee will be available – bring your own lunch
Inquiries:   Please contact Samantha at

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More about Marjorie and Samantha:
Marjorie Van Heerden, Writer and Illustrator of Children’s Books -
Marjorie 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 130 published books that feature her work. Since the publication of her first children’s picture book in 1983 Marjorie van Heerden has been published as illustrator or illustrator/author in 36 languages in Africa, England, Europe (Germany & Greece), the East (China, Korea & Malaysia), Canada, & the USA.
She and her husband lived and worked in Stellenbosch near Cape Town for 20 years, in Johannesburg for another ten, traveled for eighteen months on honeymoon in a camper-van around Europe, lived for a year on the banks of Lake Michigan in the USA and for four years in a forest on a mountain north of Athens in Greece. From each of these places Marjorie drew inspiration for her menagerie of animals, fairies, dragons, monsters and people.
Since 2003 the Van Heerdens live next to the sea in Gordon’s Bay, once again near Cape Town. Marjorie’s studio is in the loft and she sits looking at the magnificent view over False Bay while she writes and illustrates her stories. “Our two children are grown up and also live in the Cape. Our three granddaughters are already inspiring and constantly challenging me. My work is my passion and I write and illustrate the world around me but I add a little bit of fantasy ...or is it real?”
Since being back in South Africa she once again became very active in the local organizations for children’s literature giving talks and workshops... 2017 was the ninth consecutive year that she presented the 5-day Children’s Book Illustration Course at the Center for Comic, Illustrative and Book Arts (CCIBA) at the University of Stellenbosch’s Department of Visual Arts. In 2003 Marjorie established the South African chapter of the international SCBWI. She is the Co- RA for SCBWI (SA) with Elaine Ridge (
Amongst the awards she has won for her work, Marjorie has won the M.E.R Award (one of the Media24 Books Literary awards) for best illustrated children’s book, twice, in 2008 for  Nina and Little Duck (Human & Rousseau (SA) 2007) and in 2012, for Goblin Diaries: Apprenticed to the Red Witch  (Tafelberg Publishers (SA) 2011)
For more about Marjorie, you can visit:; 
For recently published books, see:; .

Samantha van Riet, Writer and Illustrator of Children’s Books.
Samantha lives in Paarl, South Africa. For the past 23 years she has worked as freelance illustrator and more recently author. And her clients include most of the South African trade and educational publishers. “I have been involved in the South African publishing industry for the past 23 years since I graduated in Graphic Art at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa in 1993. I draw and paint my illustrations using a variety of traditional materials. I then scan these in to manipulate and compile the artwork in Photoshop and Illustrator. For the past 10 years, most of the briefs and delivery of artwork have been done via the internet. I love illustration and writing courses for the freshness it adds to my style and also for the amazing community of artist and authors I meet.”
Together with her freelance work, she teaches creativity workshops for children. “Through my imagination, fun characters and colour I want to inspire children to look closely and see the wonder in the world around them.”
Samantha is the Illustrator coordinator for SCBWI (SA)
Selected Recent published books:
Roots, shoots and muddy boots (Eng); Knolle, bolle, en tuinkaperjolle (Afr) –Illustrated and written by Samantha (Non-fiction vegetable gardening book for children). Tafelberg Publishers (SA) 2012
Rympies vir pikkies en peuters (compilation of Afrikaans Poems for young children) Illustrated by Samantha. compiled by Riana Scheepers and Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh and Tafelberg Publishers (SA) 2015
Ralphie, Always Loved Illustrated by Samantha, written by Andrea Yerramilli, published by About Something Good LLC (USA) 2017
For more about Samantha, go to:

Hope to see you there,

From Marjorie & Samantha

In China this year, 2018, is “The Year of the Brown Earth Dog”. It is going to be a good year in all respects, but it will also be an exhausting year. You will be happy, yet frustrated, rested, yet tired, cheerful, yet dull!  And, refreshed and regenerated, the Brown Earth Dog will accelerate the initiation of all things, but this will bring, at the same time, pressure and stress in everyday life.
Exactly what that means, we do not know, but we sincerely wish you a  
Happy New Year 
 And we hope that 2018 will be full of productivity, with lots of happy laughter, for you:

Monday, 30 January 2017

Here is wishing you a wonderful New Year, full of energy, new inspiration and happiness! 2017 is the Chinese Year of the Fire Rooster and their new year started on 28 January.

According to legend, the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to wish him goodbye before he departed the Earth, but only twelve animals came to bid him farewell. He rewarded them by naming a year after each one in the order that it arrived. Hence the first year belonged to the Rat, then came the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar. This formed the basis of the twelve animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac. The animal ruling the year in which a person was born has a major, profound influence on his or her life.

About this year, 2017, the year of the Fire Rooster, the Chinese say that people will be more polite and less stubborn, but at the same time they will also have a tendency to complicate things. It will also be a year governed by orientation towards progress, honor and maximum integrity.

Happy, happy New Year!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

I have been so busy working on books locally and internationally that I have rather neglected this blog for a while. At last I have now managed to update my bibliography with information about books that I have illustrated and which were published during 2015 and 2016. Do go and have a look at  - I have also updated my CV and you can see that at

* Now I'd like to share with you some of the illustrations from these latest published children's books:

The Willy Nilly and Thumper series: 

The Adventures of Willy Nilly and Thumper
Book Four – Charlie, the Cross-Eyed Crocodile  [Willy Nilly Stories LLC; USA (published  2017)]

The Adventures of Willy Nilly and Thumper
Book Three – Stella Star   [Willy Nilly Stories LLC; USA (published December 2016)]

The Adventures of Willy Nilly and Thumper
Book Two Hermit’s Last Hairs   [Willy Nilly Stories LLC; USA (published May 2016)]

The Adventures of Willy Nilly and Thumper
Book One The Lost Treasure of Mount Methuselah   [Willy Nilly Stories LLC; USA (published May 2016)]

The Storiemuis (Afrikaans for "Story Mouse") series:

Storiemuis  (Book 5 and Book 6)  [Human and Rousseau - South Africa (published 2016)]

Storiemuis  (Book 3 and Book 4)  [Human and Rousseau - South Africa (published 2016)]

Storiemuis  (Book 1 and Book 2)  [Human and Rousseau - South Africa (published 2015)]

SeaStories (English) and Stories van die See (Afrikaans) [Protea Books - South Africa (published 2016)

Monday, 27 May 2013

Grandma Lim's Persimmon - launch at AFCC 2013

AFCC - Asian Festival of Children’s Content is taking place at the moment (25 – 30 May 2013) in Singapore
AFCC is a festival that brings together content creators and producers with parents, teachers, librarians and anyone interested in quality Asian content for children around the world.
I attended last year and did two presentations and some masterclasses in illustration. Unfortunately I was unable to go again this year - mayby I can manage to go next year!

Today, 27th May, at the AFCC, Sanita and my book is going to be launched! Wish I was there.
Sunita - Good luck and thank you for asking me to illustrate your book and Thank you too to
Linda Lingard of Yusof Gajah Lingard Literary Agency in Malaysia!

Details of launch...

Grandma Lim’s Persimmon
Sunita Lad Bhamray, Marjorie van Heerden
Date:    27 May 2013, 5:45pm – 6:15pm
Venue:    The Plaza, NLB

Grandma Lim has a persimmon tree. One day she sees the biggest and most beautiful persimmon on the tree. She decides to save it for her granddaughter. But the persimmon went missing after a storm blew it off the tree. That’s when a centipede, a spider and a cat got involved to save the day.

About the Author:
Sunita Lad Bhamray is an educator by profession and a writer at heart. She believes that stories have a strong influence on children’s development. After a successful start with ‘Triumphs on the Turf’, her book on horse racing, she has written a number of stories for children and dedicates them to her students who have inspired her.

 About the Illustrator:
Marjorie van Heerden is an award-winning illustrator from South Africa. From an early age she loved drawing and today her illustrations have appeared in more than 120 children’s books. She has been published as illustrator and / or author in 35 languages around the world.

More illustrations from the book

Sunday, 17 February 2013

I have not been updating/loading talks and articles I wrote/presented the last few years - but at last I did - go to to read the five articles/talks I posted - or just click on the link in the sidebar - enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Thursday, 24 January 2013

We won the 2012 M.E.R. Award!

Marjorie van Heerden, Michelle Cooper, Dan Sleigh, SA Partridge, SJ Naude, Michiel Heyns and Anton Harber


A highlight for me last year was in June, when author Alex D’Angelo and I won the M.E.R. Award (one of the Media24 Books Literary Awards) for the best illustrated children’s book published in South African during the previous year (2011) – we won the award for Goblin Diaries: Apprenticed to the Red Witch, published by Tafelberg Publishers (SA). This was the second time I have had the honour to be awarded this prestigious award, the first time was in 2008 when it went to Wendy Hartmann (as author) and me (as illustrator) for Nina and Little Duck, published in 2007 by Human & Rousseau (SA).

I was completely shocked and, of course, speechless.  As a result, my thank you speech was: "Thank you!"

So here is the speech I should have made that night, the people I should have said that "thank you" to:

To my husband, Johann: Thank you for your love and encouragement. And your help. Without you I would not have had the guts to become a writer and an illustrator. And to continue creating book after book  for more than three decades.

To Alida Potgieter, the editor who gave me my very first illustrating job, and who also became my friend: Thank you for believing in me and launching me on such a wonderful journey. 

To Alex d'Angelo, for writing this exciting, imaginative story. I really enjoyed illustrating it.

To Michelle Cooper, for asking me to illustrate Alex's manuscript. Thank you.

To the Media24 Literary Awards committee and the judges: Thank you so much for your appreciation and for honouring me (a second time!) with this award - It is really a very special honour. I am passionate about my work. But we writers and illustrators mostly work in isolation. And while working long, solitary hours to try and create something magical for the children, one becomes so involved and so focused that, eventually, you have a problem really judging your own work. So, to receive an award such as this, to publicly receive such recognition from specialists such as yourselves, means a lot. It really does. Thank you so much.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Goblin Diaries - shortlisted for the 2012 MER award

Goblin Diaries by Alex D’Angelo, and illustrated by me, Marjorie van Heerden published by Tafelberg in 2011 has been shortlisted for the 2012 MER award Media24 Books Literary for best illustrated children’s book & Youth Books. These  prizes are awarded annually for works published in the previous year and aim to acknowledge and applaud excellence in local literature (South Africa).

Goblin Diaries: Apprenticed to the Red Witch
Author:Alex D’Angelo
Illustrator: Marjorie Van Heerden
Tafelberg (Pty) Ltd
ISBN: 9780624052890
Price (incl. VAT): R 105.00
Format: Soft cover, 128pp, colour cover and b/w illustrations inside