Tuesday 12 April 2022

The A–Z to Illustrating Children’s Books - Children's Book Illustration Course - will be held later in 2022 dates TBC


                "For me this New Year started at a run.  I had to re-evaluate all my neatly worked out plans.  I realized that probably many people have been feeling the same pressure. Then there is also the ongoing Covid chaos that seems never-ending.  

                I have therefore decided to present this Illustration Course later in this year, 2022. Or if necessary change the course to on-line Zoom sessions.

              In the meantime if anyone has difficulty with their illustration work and needs some Help/guidance, contact me through the Contact form or e-mail me at marjorie@grafikon.co.za and we can set up a one-on-one session, put Help - illustration in the email subject line. ""

 Updated in April 2022 >> I have made slight changes to the format of the course to make it more accessible - see below.

                 "This whole Illustration Course will be divided into 6 two-day sessions. There will be a few weeks break between the first 3 sessions > Part One of the course, and the next 3 sessions > Part Two.

                Although planned as a whole course, each session can stand alone. You can either attend all the sessions or choose only some of the sessions to attend AND pay for the sessions separately.  

                If you interested please contact me and I will put you on a mailing list to let you know, as soon as I have decided when these sessions will take place Please complete the Personal & Contact details form (below) and email it back to marjorie@grafikon.co.za – put Interested in Illus.Course  in the email subject line. "


Here is the programme and information about the course

But, please note, because of the limited space not more than 6 participants can be accepted, so, should you be interested, it is important to get your name on the mailing list as I will be contacting the people on the list first. The mailing list is not a booking.


 The A–Z to Illustrating Children’s Books  

Children's Book Illustration Course


See full PROGRAM below

Facilitator: Marjorie van Heerden, writer and illustrator of Children’s Books.- More about Marjorie see below or visit Marjorie’s website: http://www.grafikon.co.za/ . It is a new website created in the beginning of this year > 2022 - lots to see and read.

Venue: Marjorie’s studio - Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa.


  • Because of the limited space, not more than 6 participants can be accepted. 
  • The two-day sessions (09h00-17h30, with two short tea-breaks and an one-hour lunch break) will be held on a Saturday and a Sunday.
  • 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...” 
  • Covid related. Because of the Covid pandemic, we, living at 153 Beach Road, are extremely careful of who visits our home and we also rarely go out to public places. Our house is a Covid free zone. The sessions are therefore, preferably, for people who are similarly cautious and vigilant - thank you.
Extra: Individual one-on-one sessions can be arranged after completion of the course.

See program, info on costs below.

  A brief outline of what the 6-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.


For the first session, an evaluation and critique of each participant’s creative work will take place at the beginning of the second day of this two-day session. 

From the second session, each session will start off with a “show & tell” - participants can show their work-in-progress and get feedback.  


FIRST PART of program

Session 1 – Sat/Sun dates >TBC

 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 dates >TBC

 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  >TBC

 A look at Characterisation

  • 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.
 There will be a break of a few weeks between the two parts of the program
SECOND PART of the program

Session 4 – Sat/Su  >TBC

 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 dates >TBC

       ... Continuation of Visual Backgrounds session 4.....  then on to session 5

 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.


Session 6 –  Sat/Sun dates >TBC

The creative process of creating an illustrated children’s book

  • 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: How to activate your own storytelling skills.
  • Practical session: (exercises under Marjorie’s guidance): Characterisation sketches; creating a storyboard; creating a dummy-book with rough illustrations using your own story.


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.

In these extra sessions Marjorie will evaluation and critique work the illustrator is currently working on and identify and help fix any 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 a 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 a 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.

Please complete the Personal & Contact details form (below) and email it back to marjorie@grafikon.co.zaput Illustration Course Registration in the email subject line. 

 Your Personal Details:

First Name & Surname


Illustrator/Writer/Editor etc.


Published? (Yes/No)


Contact Details: 

Cell/Telephone number


Email address


Physical home address



  • Cost of a two-day-session is R1,500
  • Deposit of  R300 per Two-Day-Session is required before the course starts
  •  The balance of the cost of each Two-Day-Session is R1,200, to be paid on or before 4 days prior to each Two-Day-Session (on the Tuesday of the week of the Two-Day-Session).



On the completion of each Part, attendee can book additional individual one-on-one sessions (6 hours - from 10h00 to 17h00) - the cost is R750.00 




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, 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 organisations 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.

Most recently, Marjorie was chosen as a 2022 recipient of the South African Children’s Laureate Award. This honour is awarded to a South African writer and/or illustrator of children's books, to celebrate their lifelong contribution and outstanding achievement in the field of children’s literature.  

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.

Other Awards won:

*  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: http://www.grafikon.co.za/


*  You can also visit: http://marjorie-cv.blogspot.com/