Course Information

Course Number: COMD 3633 – OL64

Course Title: Advanced Strategies in Illustration

Course Description:

We will be spending this semester preparing to enter the professional world of book Illustration. This class will be a combination of lectures, studio, and out-of-class work.

This picture book illustration course will allow you to learn from personal insights, developed over years of practical experience in the children’s book industry, and is invaluable for anyone contemplating entering the field. Delivered by an award winning children’s book illustrator and art director with forty years experience in the industry, this introductory book illustration course covers creative elements of picture book illustration, including interpreting a manuscript, developing thumbnails, refining sketches, producing a book dummy, and producing final artwork.

During this course you will develop a book dummy; finished cover illustration; and 3 finished book spreads. Key elements of the publishing industry are also covered, giving participants insight into the collaborative relationship between illustrator, editor and designer. Finally, avenues to publication are explored including self-promotion, creating a sample package for publishers and involvement with like-minded organizations and colleagues.

Credits / Hours: 3 credits/3.5hrs.

Section Number: 26429

Pre/Co-requisites: ENG 1121 and COMD 2400 or department permission.

Class Meetings

Online Space(s):

In-person Location:

  • This is an Online Course.

Faculty Information

Professor(s) Name:

  • Anthony Accardo

Online Office Hours/Information:

  • Thursdays 2:00pm-4:00pm. Email for zoom appointment.

In-person Office Hours/Location:

  • There will be no In-person meetings until further notice.

Contact Information

  • Email:
  • Cell Phone: 718-501-7729 (for texting/not to be abused!)

Learning Outcomes

This illustration course aims to enhance your knowledge of the children’s book industry. Furthermore, this course aims to provide you with the opportunity to develop a range of practical skills required for working in the publishing industry.

After completing this course you will understand:

  1. Who the illustrator’s key collaborators are, within the publishing industry, and the roles and relationships these participants undertake.
  2. The step by step process of illustrating a children’s picture book.
  3. How to analyze a manuscript, and identify the best phrase or action to develop into an illustration.
  4. How to develop and evaluate your own illustrations.
  5. The opportunities available to you for networking and self-promotion.

Teaching/Learning Methods

  • This children’s book illustration course will be delivered as lectures and as an interactive workshop consisting of instructor-led activities as well as self-generated activities. This training approach allows the student to work through children’s picture book concepts introduced by the instructor in an application-focused teaching environment. Students are encouraged to share samples of their work progress in online-class critiques.

Technology Requirements

  • Access to the internet.
  • Access to e-mail.
  • Access to a computer, tablet, or smart phone for video conferencing.
  • Access to Adobe Creative Suite (is ideal, but not required). There are less expensive alternatives. This class does not favor any specific imaging software.
  • Ideally (but not required) you should have access to a scanner, and a digital camera.
  • When talking about my personal approach to Illustration, I will be discussing programs that I use, such as Procreate, Painter, Bryce, Poser, Zbrush, Sculptris, and Google SketchUp, as well as traditional mediums.
  • I WILL NOT be teaching these programs, but I will demonstrate to you where and when I use them in my work (they are not required).


Topics to be covered, schedule of topics is subject to change. 

  • How the publishing industry works
  • How to become a children’s book illustrator
  • All about picture books
  • How to begin a book project
  • How to work with a publisher and author
  • Planning your illustrations & artistic direction
  • Creating appropriate characters
  • Drawing from reference & stylizing characters
  • Anthropomorphizing animals & making them cute
  • Keeping a likeness in your characters
  • Convincing emotions and life in your characters
  • Developing unity in your backgrounds
  • Developing mood and feeling in your book
  • Setting up your POVs “camera shots”
  • Knowing what to illustrate in the text
  • Designing space for text
  • Working up from your thumbnails
  • Drawing comps and final sketches
  • Working with an art director
  • Preparing and sending final artwork
  • Developing your art style and portfolio
  • Marketing methods that work
  • Understanding and setting up your social media
  • Working with reps and agents
  • Attending conferences for marketing
  • What your publisher wants you to do
  • Libraries, book trailers, & school visits
  • The marketing your publisher does
  • Book awards and understanding the industry
  • Negotiating contracts & Niche books
  • Making and submitting dummy books
  • Advances, royalties, copyrights, invoices

Personal history and examples

  • Early books and traditional collaborative relationships.
  • Later books, sub-contracting and self-publishing.
  • Changing marketplace, digital art, sub-contracting and self-publishing.
  • From manuscript to final artwork, the step-by-step process explained.

Children’s book illustration exercises

  • Interpreting and or creating an original manuscript.
  • Creating thumbnail drawings.
  • Refining drawings.
  • Producing a final artwork.

Getting published

  • Self-promotion.
  • Organizations and support groups.

The practical activities

In this course students will benefit from an application-focused teaching approach and have the opportunity to create a 32-page children’s book draft.

Students will:

  • select an existing or create an original manuscript and practice interpreting it for illustrative opportunities.
  • using provided Design Template as a guide, divide manuscript and create thumbnail drawings for each page of the book.
  • practice using layering tissue as a method to refine drawings.
  • evaluate how amount of text will influence illustration shape.
  • enlarge and adjust drawings and text to fit provided A3 draft template.
  • continue refining drawings.
  • explore ways to progress from refined drawings to finished artwork including using a traditional transfer sheet technique.

Grading Policy

25% Sketch Book & Studio Work (class work & participation)
75% Book Project (To be completed in 4 parts.)

Class Etiquette & Netiquette

***Do Not Be Late Joining Zoom Classes! I begin class promptly at 6:00 PM.***


There’s a time and a place for everything—BUT IN MOST SITUATIONS TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS INAPPROPRIATE. Most readers tend to perceive it as shouting and will have a hard time taking what you say seriously, no matter how intelligent your response may be. If you have vision issues, there are was to adjust how text displays so you can still see without coming across as angry.

2. Sarcasm can (and will) backfire

Sarcasm has been the source of plenty of misguided arguments online, as it can be incredibly difficult to understand the commenter’s intent. What may seem like an obvious joke to you could come across as off-putting or rude to those who don’t know you personally. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid sarcasm altogether in an online classroom. Instead, lean toward being polite and direct in the way you communicate to avoid these issues.

3. Don’t abuse the chat box

Chat boxes are incorporated into many online classes as a place for students to share ideas and ask questions related to the lesson. It can be a helpful resource or a major distraction—it all depends on how well students know their classroom netiquette. The class chat box isn’t an instant messenger like you’d use with friends. Treat it like the learning tool it’s meant to be, and try not to distract your classmates with off-topic discussions.

4. Attempt to find your own answer

If you’re confused or stuck on an assignment, your first instinct may be to immediately ask a question. But before you ask, take the time to try to figure it out on your own.

For questions related to class structure, such as due dates or policies, refer to your syllabus and course FAQ. Attempt to find the answers to any other questions on your own using a search engine. If your questions remain unanswered after a bit of effort, feel free to bring them up with your instructor.

5. Stop … grammar time!

Always make an effort to use proper punctuation, spelling and grammar. Trying to decipher a string of misspelled words with erratic punctuation frustrates the reader and distracts from the point of your message.

On the other hand, it’s important to be reasonable about others’ grammar mistakes. Nobody likes the grammar police, and scolding a classmate because he or she used “your” instead of “you’re” isn’t practicing proper netiquette.

6. Set a respectful tone

An increasingly common netiquette faux pas is treating e-correspondence with faculty and staff as an ongoing chat among friends.

Every day may feel like casual Friday in an online classroom where you don’t see anyone in person, but a certain level of formality is still expected in your communication with instructors. In addition to proper punctuation and spelling, it’s good netiquette to use respectful greetings and signatures, full sentences and even the same old “please” and “thank you” you use in real life.

7. Submit files the right way

You won’t be printing assignments and handing to them to your teacher in person, so knowing how to properly submit your work online is key to your success as an online student. Online course instructors often establish ground rules for file assignment submissions, like naming conventions that help them keep things organized or acceptable file formats. Ignoring these instructions is a common example of bad netiquette.

“Receiving work that does not adhere to the file format and naming protocol means a student is not paying attention.” If you don’t follow instructions, you’re taking the risk that your instructor won’t be able to find or open your assignment. Save yourself and your instructor a headache and read their instructions carefully before submitting.

8. Read first

Take some time to read through each of the previous discussion post responses before writing your own response. If the original post asked a specific question, there’s a good chance someone has already answered it. Submitting an answer that is eerily similar to a classmate’s indicates to the instructor that you haven’t paid attention to the conversation thus far.

Remember, discussions can move fairly quickly so it’s important to absorb all of the information before crafting your reply. Building upon a classmate’s thought or attempting to add something new to the conversation will show your instructor you’ve been paying attention.

9. Think before you type

A passing comment spoken in class can be forgotten a few minutes later, but what you share in an online classroom is part of a permanent digital record. Whether or not privacy settings are in place, the internet has a tendency to house things forever, and what you say privately can easily become public.

Not only is it good practice to be guarded when it comes to personal information, you always want to be just as respectful toward others as you would be if you were sitting in the same room together. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you’re comfortable standing up in front of a classroom and saying your message, then it’s most likely okay to share.

10. Be kind and professional

Online communication comes with a level of anonymity that doesn’t exist when you’re talking to someone face-to-face. Sometimes this leads people to behave rudely when they disagree with one another. Online students probably don’t have the complete anonymity that comes with using a screen name, but you could still fall prey to treating someone poorly because of the distance between screens. Make a point to be kind and respectful in your comments—even if you disagree with someone.

At the core, all of these mistakes come down to forgetting that an online classroom is still a classroom.  Good netiquette means conducting yourself in an online class with the same respect, politeness and professionalism that you would exhibit in a real-life classroom.

Practice makes perfect

You’ve just completed your crash course in netiquette guidelines, so go out there and post like the well-mannered student you are!


Attendance is required for successful completion of this course. Participation in synchronous zoom class meetings and via asynchronous online comments will also be required to successfully complete this course.

Academic Integrity Policy

Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting and citation of sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the college recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension and expulsion. More information about the College’s policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the College Catalog

Course Resources

  • Required text(s) and any other required course materials
  • Required and recommended readings and other major assignments will be supplied by instructor.
  • Links to resources such as the library, writing center, tutoring.
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