Short Course with Viviane Schwarz & Ben Norland: 17 & 30 July 2022

Short Course with Viviane Schwarz & Ben Norland: 17 & 30 July 2022

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Discover Children's Story Centre, Birkbeck University of London, Malet Street, London & Online

383-387 High Street


E15 4QZ

United Kingdom

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Event description
Short Course: Creating Visual Sequences with Characters with acclaimed illustrator Viviane Schwarz and publishing art director Ben Norland

About this event

Having worked together for nearly 20 years, children’s book illustrator Viviane Schwarz and Ben Norland, Executive Art Director at Walker Books, now share their unique insights into making a bestselling picture book.

Over two days, they will share their many tips and tricks, teaching you how to ‘play’ with your characters to achieve the best professional results, and show you what makes a character work for a successful picture book.

This is the perfect short course for anyone who has dreamed of illustrating their first picture book.

By the end of this two-day course, you will have learnt how to:

  • Create simple characters from scratch
  • Develop more complex, dynamic picture book characters
  • Employ methods for expanding your characters
  • Apply tools and techniques to develop story roughs with confidence
  • Create pace and drama in your picture book spreads
  • Use timing and structure techniques to create impactful visual sequences
  • Take your ideas to the next level, mapping out your own picture book spreads

You will also have the unique opportunity to receive individual feedback from Viviane and Ben and the chance to ask them your very own burning questions about working in children’s publishing. You are welcome to bring a character design and/or story idea that you’ve already been developing to the course - but you are also welcome to join without!*

Short Course with Viviane Schwarz & Ben Norland: 17 & 30 July 2022 image

Pre-course videos

Before you start the two-day course, you will be sent a video link where Ben and Viviane introduce character design, the different approaches, giving a short demonstration and setting a practical exercises and analytical task for you to do to prepare for the first session.

Day One: Sunday 17 July, 10am - 5pm BST at Discover Children's Story Centre & Online

Developing characters: by the end of the day, you will have at least one developed character. Through a series of workshops and presentations, you will have learnt how to bring this character fully to life, and seen the possibilities for developing them, with storylines emerging.

Mid-course video

In preparation for Day Two, you will be sent a further video link where Ben and Viviane introduce sequencing images with characters, and set two practical tasks to prepare you for the next stage of this Short Course.

Day Two: Saturday 30 July, 10am - 5pm BST at Birkbeck, University of London & Online

In Day Two, you will work on structure and begin to put your character into a sequence. Ben and Viviane will guide you through how to create pace and drama with your picture book spreads as you plot out your story.

By the end of Day Two, you will have formed some proper story ideas and/or sequences that explore further situations and scenarios for your character(s).

This short course will be delivered online.

*Detailed guidance will be provided by the artists when you sign up.


  • Viviane Schwarz is an author and illustrator of many children's books including There Are Cats in This Book which was shortlisted for the CILIP Greenaway Award for best illustrated book. Her books have also been shortlisted for The Roald Dahl Funny Award and have won the Federation of Children's Book Groups' Children's Book Award (Is There a Dog in This Book?) and the Little Rebels Award (I am Henry Finch). Her work has been published and exhibited internationally. She teaches illustration at university level, specialising in interactivity and rapid, playful development of concepts as well as designing games and installations.
  • Ben Norland was born in London and studied Fine Art at the Slade School and the Royal College of Art. He has worked as a practising artist, musician, and lecturer but throughout all of his working life he has spent the majority of his time designing and art directing children’s books as an employee of Walker Books Ltd, where he is currently Executive Art Director.

Who is it for: All aspiring illustrators, 18 and over, with an interest in children's book illustration, and for more experienced artists looking to try something new.


  • Sunday 17 July 2022, 10.00 - 17.00 BST
  • Saturday 30 July 2022, 10.00 - 17.00 BST


  • Day One will be delivered in-person at Discover Children's Story Centre, London, E15 4QZ & Online
  • Day Two will be delivered in-person at Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HX & Online


  • £160 (for the two-day course including booking fee) for Early Bird ticket price, available until 15 May
  • £180 (for the two-day course including booking fee) for General Admission ticket price, available from 16 May

Ticket price includes Eventbrite booking fee. Tickets to this event are non-refundable.

Gift this event:

You can also gift a place on this course to someone else. Just buy a ticket, forward your email confirmation to along with the person's name and email, and we will send them the tickets.

To find out more about our other Pathways Plus courses, visit our Pathways website.

Pathways Plus is a series of Masterclasses and Short Courses for all aspiring illustrators, delivered by award-winning illustrators and highly-experienced children's book publishers. The courses provide an amazing opportunity to learn how to illustrate children's books from the best in the industry as well as giving participants a real insight into the world of children's publishing.

Pathways Plus courses can be taken as one-offs or as a package and have been developed by the same team who created Pathways Into Children's Publishing, a unique, highly-acclaimed two-year professional training programme for aspiring and emerging illustrators.

Acclaim for Pathways Plus courses:

'A great experience'

'Fun, interactive and insightful'

'The author and illustrator made the effort to attend to everyone and answer our specific queries... they were incredibly friendly and great tutors who are open and honest about what they knew'

'Having that author/illustrator and art director insight was the best thing'

'A great opportunity for networking and exchange of ideas'

All Pathways Plus courses involve:

  • professional advice
  • shared insights and experiences
  • practical tasks
  • creative guidance
  • resource-sharing
  • interaction with tutors and participants
  • critical feedback
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Discover Children's Story Centre, Birkbeck University of London, Malet Street, London & Online

383-387 High Street


E15 4QZ

United Kingdom

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