12 classes that walk you through the process of how to illustrate a picture book character

Below, I’ve listed my series of Skillshare classes in the sequence that I use when I develop any kind of character. From designing the face and head all the way through to deciding on illustration technique and style. Whether you’re new to illustration or a seasoned artist, there’s something for everyone. Use my classes to either brush-up in one area or work your way through the entire series for a comprehensive guide. 

All you need to do is (roll-over the title and) click on the link to join me in class … and, if you’re new to Skillshare, click on the link/s, follow the prompts … for a two-month FREE trial!

If you want to illustrate a picture book, but you don’t know where to start, my 12 classes below, will have you well on your way!

1. Face Facts: Beginners Guide to Drawing a Self Portrait

Draw a self-portrait all the while exploring the shape, size, and placement of the eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth and ears on the face. This class offers simple techniques and key information that will have you drawing any kind of face well.

This class is an excellent guideline for sketching facial features using your own face as a model. Nina covers the placement of features and gives tips on how to achieve a realistic effect. I highly recommend this class to anyone interested in character drawing, and Nina’s other classes as well. Karen E

2. Face Shapes: Draw a series of characters using nine simple shapes

Explore character using the kite, heart, rectangle, oval, round, square, teardrop, heptagon and oblong shapes. Drawing fun faces using simple shapes that will inspire a library of characters for future projects, a perfect kick-start to any character design. 

This is an amazing class! It really has helped me to break down the proportions of the face while having complete freedom to embellish facial features. I love it! I always learn so much from Nina. Her classes literally take you from ho-hum to amazing! Thanks so much Nina for using your talent to help us to better ourselves. Nichole Wade 

3. 101 Guide to Drawing Eyes

This class builds your knowledge (and your library) of eyes by drawing a series of the round, square, rectangular, down-turned, leaf and almond-shaped eyes. See how shape, size, and placement of the eyes on the face can completely change the look of your character.

Another not-to-be-missed drawing class! Outstanding instructional narrative accompanies Nina Rycroft’s clear, succinct and achievable one step at a time demonstrations. Draw along with her videos learning six distinctively different types of eyes and then playfully experiment with eye placement and size for wonderfully entertaining and satisfying results! Jeanne Sullivan

4. The Art of Drawing Facial Expression

Explore the six basic emotions – joy, sadness, surprise, anger, disgust, and fear. Branching out from these, discover a wider spectrum of emotional possibilities and see how even subtle tweaks to the eyes, eyebrows, nose, and mouth can transform your character’s mood. This class is packed full of information that will help you learn how to ‘read’ and draw facial expressions.

I love this class. Nina’s explanations, along with showing how it’s done, makes me feel that I can do it. The fact that each lesson is only two to three minutes long, means that it doesn’t take long for me to sit and do a couple of lessons when I have time. I can stop and practice, then continue. I can even go and do them again. I can’t wait for the next class. Thanks Nina. Megan Author

5. How to Draw the Head from Every Angle: Part One

A picture book illustrator (or animator) must be able to ‘see’ the character as a three-dimensional form and then be able to draw the character from every possible angle. The challenge is making the character drawing look ‘real’ and convincing … even characters that are complete fantasy. This class shares simple techniques to help draw your characters head every which way.

First in a three-part series that will give you the tools to draw your character from every angle, transforming your flat two-dimensional drawings into three-dimensional looking characters.

I’m always super impressed with Nina’s classes and this one is no exception. Everything is clearly explained and well illustrated with lovely examples. Would recommend to anyone looking to develop their illustration skills. Natasha Chambers

6. How to Draw the Head from Every Angle: Part Two

Following from Part One, learn how to make a Clay Polymer model from your character sketches. By watching, doing-as-I-do or applying what you learn to your own characters, you will gain a greater understanding of how to draw your characters head from every angle by seeing the two-dimensional sketch transform into a three-dimensional form.

I’m new to sculpting, but this class gave me some wonderful insight on how to form lips and eyes. Eyes have been difficult for me to master. Now I have two new techniques to experiment with. Joseph Sharp

7. How to Draw the Head from Every Angle: Part Three  

The third and final instalment of ‘How to Draw the Head from every Angle’ is where all your hard work pays off! This class applies and builds on what you learned in Part One and Part Two by drawing your characters’ head from every possible angle then, bringing your character to life by layering-in facial expression. The valuable reference that you create in this class is guaranteed to save you hours of time and potential mistakes when moving forward with any project.

So helpful. Thanks for another great class. So easy to follow along, and immensely helpful in helping me to draw characters from different angles without changing them into a different character. Lindsey Wu

8. Draw a Circus of Characters: Exploring Body Shape and Proportion

This class walks you step-by-step through the character design process, guiding you through every aspect of drawing your own set of circus-inspired characters. During the classes you can shadow me as I produce a set of characters for a ‘real’ project – an unpublished YA (young adult) manuscript – and take you through my thinking and design process, giving you tools and tips to apply to your own characters.

HIGHLY recommend! This is amazing! I have never studied art and these lessons on proportions just wowed me! I am so excited to have gained some very valuable knowledge and it is actually perfect timing because I couldn’t figure out why my characters were sort of “limp”. Now I know what to do about it. Thanks Nina! You are amazing! Nichole Wade

9. Draw a Circus of Movement: Simple Techniques to Bring Characters to Life

Learn how to draw a wireframe of your character exploring body posture, forward motion and how to use reference material. Experiment with line-of-action, age-appropriate movement, and gesture. And finally, learn how to bring personality (and story) to your character body language, exaggeration.

This is fabulous! My characters are really coming to life with the techniques I am learning here! I get up each day looking forward to using these skills on my characters. It is SO MUCH FUN!!!! Anita Waugh

10. Draw a Circus of Line & Gesture: Design a Picture Book Character From Start to Finish

Learn how to draw a picture book character from start to finish, bringing them to life with line and gesture. Learn how to transform your ideas into a character map that can later be used to draw your character in multiple poses using line and gesture.

This is the most helpful class I have taken yet for learning how to do character drawing. This is the third class in this series, I highly recommend taking all three classes in order. I learned so much about defining my characters and that made them come to life for me and I could draw them more easily. Nina is an excellent teacher, she speaks clearly and explains each step as she demonstrates it onscreen. Great class. Karen E

11. Watercolor Magic: Illustration Masterclass Exploring Technique & Style 

Finding your style can be one of the most difficult things to do, but really, it’s just a matter of practice and experimenting with different styles and techniques. From graphic to whimsical, see how each style brings its own flavour. You’ll not only get a feel for what works for you, but you’ll also be adding to your toolbox of techniques for future projects. With something for everyone, illustrate one character five-ways with some watercolor magic!

12. Illustration Masterclass Exploring Technique & Style 

Explore a variety of techniques and style with this comprehensive illustration masterclass. With something for everyone, illustrate one style or complete the entire set. From bold to whimsical, explore a variety of illustration techniques using watercolour, coloured pencil, led pencil, ink pen and brush.

So there you have it! The 12 steps that I use when designing and illustrating a picture book character. The great thing about my Skillshare classes is that you can work at your own pace, in your own space, practising new skills, all the while working on the bigger picture – your picture book publication.

If you are interested in taking your character further, I host an annual 8-week Picture book illustration e-Course.

I look forward to seeing you in class and if you have any questions or an idea for a future class, please drop me a line.


Nina x


Join my free mini-course

As my gift to you, here is my character design mini-course. All I need to know is where to send it. Valued at $20, it is 100% free. No credit card is required. You will also receive Nina news – I love to share, but not too often, not too much, and always in support of your creative journey. And you can unsubscribe at any time.