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Book Illustration

Book Illustration

Chelsea College of Arts
Taught by
Zehra Hicks, Isabel Greenberg, Christyan Fox, Tutor to be confirmed


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 visit from a practising illustrator will give you inspiration and insight into the current children’s book market and talk about how to approach an agent or publisher.

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 examples of your work to the first class, even if from another field.

Topics covered

  • Storyboard 
  • Individual tutorials
  • Character and expression
  • Materials and approaches to illustration
  • Monoprinting
  • Project briefs
  • Guest speaker 
  • Drawing activity – responding to text/phrases
  • Exploring possibilities of digital processes
Course outcomes
You will aim to complete a series of illustrations or have developed ideas and some artwork for a picture 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.

Online short courses

Did you know we offer a similar course online? UAL online short courses are designed to help creative people master new challenges, develop their skills, get inspired by new ideas and access the UAL learning experience without having to travel to a campus for class.

Illustrating for Books (Online Short Course)

More online courses

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 has a unique approach to illustration: making use of sticks, bamboo and potatoes to create her books, she does not allow herself to be limited to pencils and paint. She has been published in UK, Portugal, Denmark, The Netherlands, Israel, China, Taiwan, Korea, Mexico and Brazil. She is currently working on her 7th picture book due to be published in January 2020 with Hodder.

View Zehra's website

Isabel Greenberg is a London based comic artist and illustrator, for both adults and children. She graduated in 2010 from The University Of Brighton and has since produced work for a variety of clients and publications including The Guardian, The National Trust, Nobrow Press, Wrap Magazine, Seven Stories Press, The New York Times and the V & A . In 2011 she won the Observer Jonathan Cape Comica Graphic Story Prize and shortly after began work on her first graphic novel, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth. It came out in Autumn 2013, published by Jonathan Cape and was released in The US, Canada, Germany, France and Spain. She is now working on her second graphic novel as well as a series of historical children’s books for the publisher Wide Eyed Editions.

Christyan Fox, since graduating from Middlesex University in 1986, has worked as a freelance illustrator and writer creating over 50 children's books – both with and without his wife Diane – as well as packaging design, greeting cards, graphics, magazines and advertising. Winning awards including the Southampton Books to Share award 2006 and 2004 Times Educational Supplement award 2002 and Stockport Schools Book Award 2001. For the past 4 years Christyan has taught very successful short courses on creating children’s books as well as small group, one to one sessions and schools covering areas in more depth. Christyan and his wife are currently developing an online version of their course. Clients include Faber and Faber, Quarto, Words and Pictures, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Books, Orchard Books, Gullane Children's Books, Macmillan, Egmont, Campbell Books, Scholastic, Piccadilly Press, Bloomsbury Books, Frances Lincoln, Little Tiger Press, Handprint Books, Ted Smart, Koala Books, Walker books, Usbourne books. Conran Octopus, Oxford University Press and the BBC.

Learn more on Christyan's website


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

  • A4 sketch book

  • Drawing media that you are used to working with i.e pencils, charcoal and some form of colour - pencil crayons/inks/watercolours or gouache

  • Fineliner pen

  • Plastic ruler

  • Small acrylic paint brushes if you are interested in working with paint.

  • Examples of any recent work; drawings, sketchbooks - (it does not have to be illustration)

  • An image of your favourite illustrator’s work

Please note that most materials needed for the short courses are available at the Chelsea College of Arts' Art Shop. Please contact the Art Shop directly for opening hours and availability.

Available dates