Saturday, 13 November 2021

CHANGED DATES: This is an invitation to join us for a Children's Book Illustration Course
But, please note, that because of the limited space, not more than 6 participants can be accepted, should you be interested, it is important that you book your place quickly

Children's Book Illustration Course

The A–Z to Illustrating Children’s Books

See full PROGRAM below

 Facilitator: Marjorie van Heerden, writer and illustrator of Children’s Books

[Marjorie’s website:]

 Venue: Marjorie’s studio: 153 Beach Rd, Gordon’s Bay, Cape Town, Western Cape SA

[Telephone: 021 856 0432]

Email Inquiries: Illustration Course in the Email subject line. 

Had some feedback about dates of the Illustration Course – The A–Z to Illustrating Children’s Books - the informal, interactive, lecture-based course (with practical workshops in between) - I planned to start in December. The feedback and suggestions I got was, that it will be better, to start the course in January, because practically everyone is tired and starting to wind down at the moment. The program is still the same, except I'm pushing the sessions forward to start the date of the 2nd session.

-       Because of the limited space, not more than 6 participants can be accepted. Therefore it is imperative that every participant has to commit to the full course of five two-day sessions (09h00-17h30, with two tea-breaks and one lunch break).

-       Since there will be so few participants the final dates and times could be adjusted to suit everyone’s schedule, if needed.

 -       Coffee/tea will be provided, but participants are responsible for their own lunch box “some sandwiches...”

Session 1 – Sat/Sun 29/30 January 2022

Session 2 – Sat/Sun 12/13 February 2022

Session 3 – Sat/Sun 12/13 March 2022

Session 4 – Sat/Sun 9/10 April 2022

Session 5 – Sat/Sun TBC

Extra: Individual one-on-one sessions can be arranged after completion of the course.

See program, info on Costs and payment details below.

 A brief outline of what the 5-session course aims to cover:

In this course, the main focus is on illustrating children’s picture books, but not excluding other types of children’s literature. 

Marjorie will guide you to discover your true potential as illustrator, unblock your creativity, your senses, and your visual abilities, and how to interpret the written word and translate stories into visual language accessible to the child. With her, you will look at the children your work is aimed at, how their minds develop, how the young child “sees” the world around them.  She will show you the fundamentals of drawing, how to create believable characters.

She will talk about art material – paper, inks pastels paints – choosing a colour palate. How to paint backgrounds that give a sense of place. She will help you understand nature, light and shadows and to incorporate the information into your illustration to create the world in which your characters live.

Marjorie will share on where to find resources, how to do research and how to use the information in your creation process - help you to discover where to find inspiration and ideas, learn to overcome creative blocks. 

This course will focus on the various challenges facing the children’s book illustrator. With her you will find out about the world of children’s books and how to negotiate and survive in that world.


More about Marjorie van Heerden,


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 (Greece), the East (China, Korea & Malaysia) and  the USA.

She and her husband, Johann, lived and worked in Stellenbosch near Cape Town for 20 years, in Johannesburg for another ten, travelled 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... For the nine consecu­tive years, from 2009 till 2017, she presented the 5-day Children’s Book Illustration Course at the Centre 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 was the Co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI (SA) from 2003 till 2018, the first few years with Paddy Bouma and later with Elaine Ridge.  After she retired as Regional Advisor, she received the honour of RA Eme­rita from the SCBWI and was given a life-time SCBWI  membership.

Amongst the awards she has won for her work, Marjorie has received the M.E.R. Prize (one of the Media24 Books Literary awards) for best illustrated children’s book, twice:

-          2008 for  Nina and Little Duck, written by Wendy Hartmann (Human & Rousseau (SA) 2007)

-          2012 for Goblin Diaries: Apprenticed to the Red Witch, written by Alex D'Angelo  (Tafelberg Publishers (SA) 2011)

Recent Awards (received between 2017 and 2021):

The books in the Willy Nilly & Thumper series (10 books) received awards in the USA:

-            The Adventures of Willy Nilly & Thumper: Book Four: Charlie, the Cross-Eyed Crocodile (USA 2017) - the 2017 Writer’s Digest Award - Honourable Mention.

-            The Adventures of Willy Nilly & Thumper: Book Three Stella Star (USA 2016) - Winner of the 2018 Reader Views Kids Choice Award.

-            The Wizard’s Apprentice was also the Winner of the 2019/2020 Readers Views Kids Award for Best Children’s Book of the Year.

-            Tales from Hoop ’n’ Holler: Book One - The Wizard’s Apprentice (USA 2018) – Bronze medal winner of the 2019 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards  an award from entries all over the world.

Jump the Moon,  written by Kathy Simmers and illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden (USA  2020)

-            Received three 2020 Story Monsters Approved winners awards (Won in these categories)   First-Time Author (all ages) winner; Picture books (Ages 3-8) Fiction winner; Illustrations/Photography/Artwork winner

-            Gold award winner - category:2021 The Bill Fisher Award for Best Book USA (Children's / Young Adult).


Marjorie’s website:

For more about Marjorie, you can visit:

To see list of selected published books by Marjorie, see:

Marjorie’s SCBWI Profile:


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 Each session will start off with a “show & tell” - participants can show their work in progress and get feedback, except for the first session when an evaluation and critique of each participant’s creative work will take place at the beginning of the second day of this session.

Session 1 – Sat/Sun 29/30 January 2022

 Children’s book illustrators and the children their work is created for: The Creative Process

 ·      Who are you? - The mind frame of an illustrator. How does the creative mind work? – Where do ideas come from?  How do adults see? How to activate your senses?

·      Who are your audience (today’s children)? A look at children’s mind development and how a child sees. A look at the child’s physical and mental development and how that can be incorporated into understanding and to help you become a successful children’s book illustrator.

·      Evaluation and critique of each participant’s creative work.

 Session 2 – Sat/Sun 12/13 February 2022

 Fundamentals of Drawing

 ·      A close look at the fundamentals of drawing – the laws of nature – similarities and differences.

·      A look at the child’s physical and mental development and how that can be incorporated into drawings of children.

·      How to draw children: A step-by-step look at the structure of a typical child’s body and how it changes, starting with the newborn baby and up to a 16-year old child.

·      The difference between adult and child bodies - how to draw adults.

·      Extending your knowledge of the human body into how to draw animals, monsters and other creatures - similarities and differences.

Session 3 – Sat/Sun 12/13 March 2022

 A look at characterisation and the creative process

·      Characterisation - The process of visually creating characters for a picture book: children, adults, animals, and fantasy characters. A look at the main characters. A look at the secondary characters and the characters in the background (not necessarily mentioned in the story, but creating a sense of time, place and atmosphere).

·      A look at: doing characterisation sketches; creating a storyboard; creating a dummy-book with rough illustrations.

·      A discussion about the process of creating an illustrated children’s book: Creating a storyboard with small thumbnail sketches in order to create a “dummy book” with rough illustrations.

·      A look at the “dummy book” process: choosing the book format and dimensions, the font, the type, the layout and the text breakdown.

·      A look at the logic and rhythm of the images you create to tell the story.

·      Practical session (exercises under Marjorie’s guidance): Characterisation sketches; creating a storyboard; creating a dummy-book with rough illustrations.

 Session 4 – Sat/Sun 9/10 April 2022

 A closer look at visual backgrounds, light source and space in an illustration.

 ·      Backgrounds - How background creates a sense of place; the value of negative space.

·      How backgrounds are not only a stage your characters stand on but can become imperative in the telling of the story, creating an atmosphere, creating a timeline.

·      Nature – one of our most valuable resources for the illustrator – how to see and use nature in your illustrations.

·      Light source - the importance of the light source and tone in an illustration.

Session 5 – Sat/Sun - Date TBC

A look at various art materials and techniques. A look at the world of children’s book publishers. Analysing selected published illustrated children’s books.

 ·      A look at materials; various papers, drawing pencils, inks, watercolours, pastels, acrylics etc...

·      The use of colour.

·      The use of monochrome.

·      An analysis of different illustration techniques and styles.

·      A look at a variety of picture books - A detailed analysis of a selection of different types of children’s picture books and specific selected illustrations. 

·      A look at the world of illustrated children’s book publishing, local and international.

·      Tips on how one can submit/pitch your work to publishers.

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 Extra: As mentioned above, individual one-on-one sessions can be arranged after comple­tion of the course.

 Personal help and guidance with your creative work in one-on-one sessions.

·      Evaluation and critique of special projects the illustrator is working on or just general critiquing of your creative work. Individual guidance and pointers regarding next steps and working practically on areas that the illustrator has need of.


Registration Form, Cost and Payment Details

As stated above - because of the limited space, not more than 6 participants can be accepted. I will do this strictly on first come first served basis.  It is, however, imperative that every participant has to commit to the full course of five two-day sessions. So if you are seriously interested, respond quickly.

If you are interested you can make a prelimary booking – I will make a list of prelimary bookings and take it strickly on first-come-first- serve bases – I will first send out to people on the list booking deadlines details in the second week in January and then only after 3 days, to give the people who are on the list, will post on the information on the internet – if anyone wants to ensure their  place they can make their deposit of R1500 now - Anyone that has fully book now (Paid the deposit of R1500 for the course), can arrange a private one-on-one initual session (the same as the session I offer after the end of the course)  where we can look at his/her work/story/illustrations and I can give feedback and help you, if necessary, shape it . We can get together early in December for a day (10h00 till 16h00) that suits us both. We can start the day by reading your storie, and take it from there. Cost of session - R750.

Please complete the Personal & Contact details form (below) and e-mail it back to Illustration Course Registration in the Email subject line. 

For the prelimnary list you only need to send me your name and E-mail address

We will respond ASAP.


 Your Personal Details:

First Name & Surname


Illustrator/Writer/Editor etc.


Published? (Yes/No)


Contact Details:

Cell/Telephone number


Email address


Physical home address


Payment details:

Deposit of R1,500 paid? (Yes/No)


Session 1 - Sat/Sun 11/12 Dec. paid?


Session 2 - Sat/Sun 29/30 Jan. 2022 paid?


Session 3 - Sat/Sun 12/13 Feb. 2022 paid?


Session 4 - Sat/Sun 12/13 Mar. 2022 paid?


Session 5 - Sat/Sun 9/10 April 2022 paid?


      Cost - Must be paid electronically or deposited by dates specified below:                 The cost of each session of two days will be R1,500 per session 

·        Deposit of  R300 per session is required = R1,500  in total for the 5 sessions (non-refundable) must be paid on or before 30 November 2021.

·         The balance the cost of each session of two days will be R1,200 per session and be paid on or before 11 days prior to each session.

 The cost of  The individual one-on-one sessions of one day will be R750.00 per session

Balance of fee = R1,200 per session must be paid 11 days prior to the upcoming session:

Session 1 - Sat/Sun 29/30 January 2022  - Paid by 18 January

Session 2 - Sat/Sun 12/13 February 2022 – Paid by 1 February

Session 3 - Sat/Sun 12/13 March 2022 - Paid by 1 March

Session 4 - Sat/Sun 9/10 April 2022 - Paid by 29 March

Session 5 - Sat/Sun - Date of session and payment deadline TBC