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Writing the Picture Book: From First Sketch to Complete Dummy with Claudia Rueda

Creative Lab Syllabus


Would you like to turn a picture book idea into a book dummy ready for submission? Join picture book author and New York Times Bestselling illustrator Claudia Rueda in this three-hour class to lead you into the process. We'll review picture books and art history examples to learn about visual storytelling, pacing, composition, point of view, character development, and the dynamics between words and pictures. Then you’ll create an eight-page picture book storyboard based on a brief text. After a revision of your sketches, you will work on a second version and build a final book dummy. 


This workshop is suitable for anyone with interest in creating and publishing picture books. Basic drawing skills help but are not indispensable.


Part 1. Visual talk: How picture books work (1h)

  • We begin by defining the picture book art form
  • Then we look at examples in visual arts to learn the narrative and evocative possibilities of pictures
  • Finally we examine several picture books to learn how to write stories by combining images and words

Part 2- Workshop: Creating the picture book dummy (1h30)

  • You choose the text for your project and plan your own picture book using thumbnails
  • You revise the thumbnails in small groups with an emphasis on consistency and readability, the evocative possibilities of the images and the elements of storytelling
  • You sketch your storyboard based on the revisions and decide the image for the cover
  • You build a picture book dummy
  •  Picture Book exhibition and critique (20min)


  • Understanding the picture book as a unique form of verbal and visual narrative
  • Planning a picture book idea using a storyboard
  • Developing critical skills to revise your own picture book projects
  • Producing a picture book dummy ready for submission to publishers


  • Legal size white paper
  • HB pencils
  • Orange color pencils
  • Fine point black marker
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