Crafting a Picture Book Dummy with Heart and Soul: A Creative Breakthrough 2019

About This Event


Find balance with words and pictures as you polish your picture book dummy for submission.

You have reached your goal at last: a project to submit to a publisher. Are you satisfied with your dummy? Is there something more you could add? Is it your best work?

Being an illustrator is a journey, an organic process that continually changes because we are always growing as artists. Do you feel inspired? What makes your art stand out?

Whether you are working on your first picture book or reinventing yourself to renew your enthusiasm, this workshop will bring out your unique personal expression to help you craft an exciting, lively dummy.  Floyd Cooper and Melanie Hall will guide you in preparing a picture book dummy and using media to create final art.

After perfecting page design, the artists in us look forward to creating the final art. What media will you use? What style of working expresses your authentic self? Our demos in painting, pen and ink, collage, and printmaking will reveal a new world of artistic possibilities. Enrich your current style by opening up your vision to different approaches and techniques. Experience creative breakthroughs as you experiment with different media and discover new ways to express yourself.

Experienced illustrators will find this workshop a wonderful way to re-energize and re-inspire their art.

The goal for this workshop: to create a beautifully designed dummy, one piece of final art, and a creative breakthrough.

What You’ll Learn

How to decide what images to illustrate.

How to make good compositional choices for the greatest dramatic impact.

Ways to update page designs.

Media techniques.

How to choose media for illustrations.

An art director’s point of view of the publishing process.

How to work with digital media.

Ways to perfect your picture book dummy for submission.

Your artistic and bookmaking strengths.

Review the basics of creating a dummy for a 32-page picture book.

Faculty will work with you individually to help you discover and showcase your strengths.

Who Should Attend

This course is ideal for illustrators, or author/illustrators who:

Have a finished picture book manuscript and a sketched dummy.

Are working on their first picture book.

Are an experienced illustrator would would welcome an opportunity to renew their enthusiasm.

Want focused help to get their project ready for submission to publishers.

Would benefit from the shared experience and expert tips of our experienced faculty.

Have taken one of these previous workshops with us: Picture Book Illustration: From Conception to Birth; the 2018 Crafting a Picture Book Dummy course; Illustration Intensive; Crash Course in Children’s Publishing and Color, Light, Line & Texture. This workshop is a perfect opportunity to build on what you learned in those courses.

Because the workshop is project-based, previous attendees are welcome to return!.

Note: To participate in this workshop, you must have a completed manuscript and a sketched dummy, and you must provide a short description of your project two weeks before the workshop as well as a sample illustration using your favorite media.


When you arrive at this workshop, faculty will have reviewed your project description and sample art. On the opening morning, they will work with you to identify your goals for the weekend and follow that with close supervision throughout the weekend.

Day 1


Arrival, check in, orientation


Appetizers & Dinner

After dinner:

Introduction: Illustration with Heart and Soul with Floyd and Melanie-

My Story: A creative warm-up to get acquainted.

Floyd and Melanie talk about creative breakthroughs.

Day 2



Opening session:

Floyd and Melanie discuss the basics of creating a dummy, and show their processes from sketches to dummy.

Pacing and page distribution

Word association/sketches

Page design—importance of good composition, what makes a successful spread? marriage of text and image

Storyboards (thumbnail sketches)

Dummy preparation, show examples of dummies and published books

Guest Speaker: Marie O’Neill, Creative Director for editorial at Highlights for Children

Studio Time: Marie will be a roving mentor

Show Us What You’ve Got: Portfolio and Project Review

While Marie O’Neill gives a presentation and everyone has studio time, Floyd and Melanie will meet everyone individually to review portfolios and projects. (If more portfolios need to be reviewed, there is more time at 1pm.) Note: portfolios consist of 6-8 pieces of art.



Studio time: Begin/revise book dummy

Marie O’Neill will be a roving mentor.

(Portfolio review overflow if needed)

John Kascht: Presentation and Demo


Appetizers & Dinner

After dinner:

All About Floyd and His Work

Fun Group Activity

Day 3



Morning session: Floyd Cooper Demo

Studio Time


Afternoon Session: Melanie Hall Demo

Studio time

Complete your dummy and begin final art/art prototype. Floyd, Melanie, and John Kascht will be roving mentors.

Floyd, Melanie, and John Kascht, will be roving mentors during this time


Appetizers & Dinner

After dinner:

Melanie Hall, Whimsical Artist

Fun Group Activity

Day 4



Final touches on project

Questions for Floyd and Melanie

Discussion: Getting ready for submission

Exhibition of Book Dummies and Final Art


Lunch and Farewell


Interview with Floyd Cooper

Floyd Cooper Talks With Roger Sutton

Coffee & Conversation With Floyd Cooper

Melanie Hall’s website

Floyd Cooper, featured on New York Times: Live Illustration series


Paul, Ann Whitford. Revised and Expanded Edition Writing Picture Books

A Hands-On-Guide from Story Creation to Publication. Cincinnati: Writerʼs Digest Books,


Salisbury, Martin. Illustrating Childrenʼs Books Creating Pictures for Publication.

London: Quarto Publishing, 2004.

Shulevitz, Uri. Writing with Pictures How to Write and Illustrate Childrenʼs Books. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1985.

Withrow, Steven and Lesley Breen Withrow. Illustrating Childrenʼs Picture Books

Tutorials, Case Studies, Know-how, Inspiration. Cincinnati: Writerʼs Digest Books, 2009.


“Floyd Cooper and Melanie Hall maintained a relaxed, but work-focused atmosphere in which it was easy to converse with them and the other attendees. I never came this close to completing a dummy before. Because of them I feel like I know where I’m going and what I’m doing.”

“Melanie and Floyd were amazing. They gave excellent feedback on our projects and I could tell they took the time to understand our projects and prep for the workshop so we could get right to work. Best instructors ever!”


Venue Highlights




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