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We can’t wait to welcome our new and returning students from 19 October 2020. Your safety is our first priority.

Book Illustration (Online Short Course)

Book Illustration (Online Short Course)

Chelsea College of Arts
Taught by
Zehra Hicks


Join Book Illustration and hone your drawing skills - helping you to develop your own visual language. Gain an understanding of how you could develop your abilities as an illustrator and what is required in order to show a portfolio to a publisher.

You will explore materials, gain confidence in character development, layout and composition and understand the relationship between illustration and text. A talk from a practising illustrator will give you inspiration and insight into the current children’s book market.

A short demonstration on digital processes will introduce you to the possibilities of incorporating new working methods to your illustration practice. Throughout the course you’ll enjoy valuable one-on-one tuition as well as group feedback. 

Past students have featured among the prize winners of the Macmillan Book Prize and the V&A Inspired By Competition.

Please bring an example of your favourite illustrator's work to the first session.

For more information on Online Short Courses please see the below information.

All our Online Short Courses include:

  • Live online lessons with the same tutors
  • The same course content and learning outcomes
  • Lesson recordings, for review
  • Access to VLE with course content
  • Forums for support
  • 3 months online access
  • Certificate upon completion

Further details about preparing for your online course, and the equipment you need, can be found here.

Please note that all courses are taught in UK time. To check and compare times please click here.

Topics covered
  • Introducing materials and approaches to illustration
  • Drawing from observation
  • Storyboarding and sequential image
  • Character and expression
  • Printmaking techniques at home
  • Guest speaker
  • Individual tutorials
  • Project briefs you can continue after the course
  • Exploring possibilities of digital processes (photoshop demo)
  • Portfolio tips
  • How to approach an agent or publisher
Course outcomes
You will aim to complete a series of illustrations or have developed ideas and some sample artwork for a book.

Who should attend
Anyone interested in illustrating books, book jackets or children's picture books, who wants to take a drawing based course. Or anyone who is considering taking an Illustration MA or Illustration BA course. 


Courses are typically taught by one or more of the tutors listed below.

Student Reviews

'Having done the course, I got a two-book publishing contract with Macmillan. I am working on ideas for a third one now, which I am juggling between my two small children. I would not have had that confidence and knowledge to start working as an author/illustrator without having done the course.' - Anon

'I had a great time developing my work, got a lot of feedback and suggestions. And it was fun to do as well. Had a great week.' 

'Very good. I was impressed by the one to one working and enthusiasm of the tutors.' 

'The teaching and course was fantastic.'

Tutor Description

Before embarking on a career in illustration, Zehra Hicks graduated from University of Northumbria with a First Class BA Hons degree in Fine Art. Later she worked as a graphic designer in London for 8 years. After she had her first child she completed a Short Course in Book Illustration at Chelsea College of Arts in 2009 which gave her the confidence to change career. The book she worked on while on the course got highly commended for the Macmillan Prize that year and she was offered a contract with Macmillan. Her first book, ‘The Boy Who Hated Toothbrushes’, was winner of the Heart of Hawick Award in 2012, the Read It Again! Cambridgeshire Children’s Picture Book Award and named Lovereading4Kids Debut of the Year 2011

Zehra's books she has written and/or illustrated have been published in over 20 countries. Clients include: Andersen Press, Hodder, Two Hoots and Macmillan. She's currently working on her 10th picture book and she's excited about some new projects in the pipeline.

Her first illustrated only book (The Problem With Problems) was read by Tom Hardy on CBeebies

View Zehra's website


Online short course materials

To take part in the Online sessions you will need:

  • An up-to-date web browser (we recommend Chrome)
  • Microphone and headphones (a headset with a microphone function is recommended. The built-in microphone in your device would also be fine)
  • Webcam
  • Strong Internet connection - we recommend a minimum of 2 Mbps download, and 1 Mbps upload, faster if possible. You can test your network speed here -

Onsite and offsite course specific materials

Please bring the following materials with you on the first day:

Essential materials:

  • A4 sketch book
  • Single sheets of heavyweight drawing paper (A4 or A3)
  • 2B, 3B, or 4B pencils
  • Black ink (indian ink preferable but not essential)
  • Gouache or watercolour paints in a tube (red, blue and yellow)
  • Paint brushes
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick

Useful to have:

  • Some form of colour: pencil crayons or pastels
  • Any other drawing media that you have at home
  • Examples of any recent work; drawings, sketchbooks - (it does not have to be illustration)
  • An image of your favourite illustrator’s work

Available dates