Book Illustration

Marie-Alice Harel
8 Lessons (5h 9m)
8 Week(s)

Two Ways to Learn


most popular

  1. Watch Video Lessons at Your Own Pace
  2. Assignments Included
  3. Peer Feedback
  4. Switch Courses as Often as You Like
  5. Access to Schoolism Webinar Archives

LIVE Classes

personalized instructor feedback

  1. Watch Video Lessons with a Planned Curriculum
  2. Scheduled Assignments with Deadlines
  3. Personalized Paint-Overs and Real-Time Feedback From The Instructors
  4. Watch Video Lessons and Peer Feedback as Often as You'd Like
  5. Ability to Contact Instructor with Questions
  6. Digital Certificate of Completion
  7. Weekly Class Meetings LIVE on Zoom
  8. Access to Schoolism Webinar Archives

Course Description

Learn how to bring stories to life through illustrations with award-winning illustrator and author, Marie-Alice Harel! Illustrations have been used as a visual companion of text for centuries, and in this course, Marie-Alice will share her vast knowledge of narrative illustration to help you develop a strong base for creating artwork that perfectly compliments the story you want to tell.

Over 8 lessons, Marie-Alice will go over everything you need to know to be a successful book illustrator, from the fundamental function of value, color and composition, creating characters, to preparing images for print, dealing with contracts and the practical aspects of managing a freelance business. In this course, you can expect to do a lot of drawing, in context with each lesson, leading to the creation of finished artwork. You will also be referencing many artists, including picturebook and book cover illustrators, to see how they manipulate colors, contrasts, shapes and the text-image relationship, to help tell a story.

If you're interested in learning how to create book illustrations that serve a story and evoke an emotional response within your audience, this course is a must-watch!

➡︎ For the ‘Critiqued Sessions’, students will meet up with Marie-Alice Harel LIVE once per week on Mondays at 7am PT / 10am ET.

  • Adobe Photoshop

Lesson Plan

Welcome to the class! In this first lesson, I'll start off by introducing myself and giving you a bit of a background on my work and career as a book illustrator before diving into our discussion about what illustration is all about. It may sound simple (after all, illustrating is just drawing, right?), but we'll also be covering related topics like the question of having a "style", using different mediums for your illustrations, and how to manage your mindset and deal with fears such as imposter syndrome.

Sure, color is great and all, but the true strength of an illustration lies in it's value structure. In this lesson, we're going to talk about what values are and why they're so important; How values need to be grouped, simplified and organized to support a narrative, and the risk of having too much contrast in your value structure. We will discuss edges, textures and depth, then move on to thumbnails and how to create them in a way that quickly and effectively gets your idea down.

In this lesson, we'll go over how to engage your audience through the composition of your illustrations. I'll talk about shape language, pathways, how to guide the eye of your viewer using contrast, frames and overlap, and also go over tools and techniques you can use to create visual impact in a way that serves the story. I'll show you how to avoid common mistakes and give you practical ways to solve visual problems. I'll then cover some of the basics of perspective as we link back to our discussions on structure and thumbnails.

Now that we've covered values and composition, it's time to move on to color! What is color? How do we perceive different hues? Why should we distinguish local color from primary and secondary light sources ? In this lesson, I'll be answering all those questions and more, including colored light, contrasting and complementary colors, limited palettes, and how to use colors in a way that evokes a specific emotional response from the viewer.

In this lesson, I'll show you how to develop and enhance characters, creating interesting individuals as well as full casts with stories to tell. We will talk about the importance of silhouette, shape and caricature, as well as discuss gesture and acting to convey emotions. I will invite you to reflect on the diversity and inclusivity of your work, as well as demonstrate how design principles extend beyond the characters themselves.

When it comes to book illustration, the story exists at the intersection of text and picture, and the combination of the two can be more than the sum of it's parts. In this lesson, we will examine various text and image relationships to create tension and challenge the reader's imagination. We will approach elements of design and typography, and go through the step-by-step process behind creating illustrations for a narrative text, from the research stage to defining your world and its rules. Finally, I will focus on the specificities of picturebooks and book covers, observing in both cases how best to use form to express the content of the story.

In this lesson, we consider the book as object. We will talk all about the different parts of the book, printing methods, the various types of paper and other technical aspects of the book production. Thanks to this background knowledge and more discussions about bleed, color gamut and image size, you will understand how your work will appear once printed and know how best to plan and prepare your images for publication. Then, we will go over some book forms that challenge the boundaries between design and content, such as pop up books, artist books, and digital/interactive technologies.

In our final lesson, we will go over to the business side of being a freelancing illustrator. We'll talk about things like getting started and reaching art directors, creating a good portfolio, working with agents, contracts, pricing, how to communicate with clients, meeting deadlines and diversifying your income. Finally, because being an artist is a complex and sometimes challenging way of life, we will discuss time and health management, and look for ways to take care of your creativity and to cultivate a fulfilling career.


Marie-Alice Harel

Marie-Alice Harel is a French author and illustrator based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was a Geosciences PhD and researcher before becoming a full time illustrator in 2016. Marie-Alice creates illustrations for books, picture books, magazines, and works on character design for animation. She also makes artist books, another playful way to combine images and stories. Her self-published work is signed MÄ Harel.