Experimental Techniques for Picturebooks

A course by Catarina Sobral
Author, Illustrator, and Director. Lisbon, Portugal.
Joined August 2020
, Author, Illustrator, and Director

Tell an original story using tempo, tension, and plot to create a wordless visual narrative from scratch

  • 100% positive reviews (172)
  • 2278 students
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch

Tell an original story using tempo, tension, and plot to create a wordless visual narrative from scratch

  • 100% positive reviews (172)
  • 2278 students
  • 21 lessons (3h 53m)
  • 29 additional resources (11 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • Unlimited access forever

Picturebooks are a form of visual storytelling that act as an exercise in synthesis. Oftentimes, what you do see is as important as what you don’t. By considering each and every visual element of a picturebook, you can tell a memorable story that captures a reader’s attention and reflects on some of life’s most interesting moments. Discover the art of picturebooks and learn how to use color, texture, and composition to add plot and tension to your next visual narrative.

In this course, illustrator and author Catarina Sobral teaches you the fundamentals of visual storytelling for editorial projects like picturebooks. From conceptualizing your narrative to making first contact with a publisher, learn the essential steps for creating your own wordless picturebook. Continue to grow as an illustrator or author by exploring tempo and tension, experimenting with new techniques, and producing a printed mock-up of your final project.

What will you learn in this online course?

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. The Stair - Starting From the Ground, Before Moving Up
  • U3
    U3. The Diving Board and The Trapeze - From Above, Before the Jump
  • U4
    U4. The Jump... and The Safety Net
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

Start your course by getting to know Catarina and listening to her journey as an illustrator. Take a look at some of her work, learn about her influences, and listen to her reflections on the curious nature of visual storytelling.

The process of creating a picturebook starts by pulling from your intuition and knowledge. It’s important to understand the particular characteristics of the format: its objectness, the word/image interplay, a free layout, and the continuum between pages. Using some examples of children’s books, Catarina describes these basic concepts and gives you her recommendations for determining the right colors and compositions.

Then, it’s time to discover the basic techniques for starting your final project. Learn two mixed media techniques and go through how to build a narrative structure, the starting point for establishing the layout and content of your wordless picturebook.

Discover Catarina’s methods for developing a storyboard, experimenting with materials, and completing your first illustration. Throughout this process, pay attention to your emotions and how you feel being the author of your very own picturebook.

Finish the course by learning how to convert your analog illustration into a digital file for editing and post-production. See how to create a dummy version of your final project and get some of Catarina’s tips for pitching your book to a publisher. Challenge yourself by continuing your picturebook and completing the rest of its illustrations.

What is this course's project?

Create an entire storyboard and complete a final illustration for a wordless picturebook using mixed media techniques.

Who is this online course for?

This course is for anyone who wants to draw to communicate meaning, including visual artists, illustrators, designers, art students, and other creatives who are passionate about reading, watching, or telling stories through images.

Requirements and materials

To take this course, you should be comfortable with sketching your ideas. You don’t need to be a professional illustrator, but having some basic drawing skills will be helpful.

You will need a spacious and comfortable workspace, sketching paper (or a sketchbook), mixed media paper, wax oil crayons, markers, colored pencils, a graphite or an oil-based pencil, a low odor solvent suitable for oil, ink, brushes, tape, a scanner and a computer with your image editing software of choice.


2278 Students
172 Reviews
100% Positive ratings

Catarina Sobral

A course by Catarina Sobral

Teacher Plus
Author, Illustrator, and Director

Catarina Sobral is a Portuguese illustrator, author, and director for animated films. Before launching her career as a freelance illustrator, she studied graphic design and illustration, developing a unique style blending her eye-catching illustrations and strong narrative voice.

Catarina’s work can be seen regularly in illustrations for press, album covers, posters, and of course, picturebooks. Her award-winning picturebooks have been published in sixteen different languages and exhibited around the world, gaining recognition from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the Portuguese National Illustration Award, the Portuguese Authors’ Society, the White Ravens catalog, and 3x3 magazine. She is a teacher and writer, produces her own radio show for children, and is currently directing her second animated film.


  • U1


    • Influences
    • What Will We Do in This Course?
    • Introduction
  • U2

    The Stair - Starting From the Ground, Before Moving Up

    • Materials and Techniques 2
    • Materials and Techniques 1
    • Text and Image Interplay
    • Composition: Theory and Practice
    • Colour Theory
    • Picture Books: Definition and Mechanics
  • U3

    The Diving Board and The Trapeze - From Above, Before the Jump

    • Problem, Solution, Catharsis 1
    • Problem, Solution, Catharsis 2
    • Storyboard 1
    • Storyboard 2
    • Vocabulary and Grammar 1
    • Vocabulary and Grammar 2
    • Final Illustration 1
    • Final Illustration 2
    • Final Illustration 3
  • U4

    The Jump... and The Safety Net

    • Children's Book Industry and Final Tips
    • Mocking-up
    • Scanning and Retouching
  • FP

    Final project

    • Experimental Techniques for Picturebooks

What to expect from a Domestika course

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Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need to complete a specific project. Every step of the project combines video lessons with complementary instructional material, so you can learn by doing. Domestika's courses also allow you to share your own projects with the teacher and with other students, creating a dynamic course community.

All courses are 100% online, so once they're published, courses start and finish whenever you want. You set the pace of the class. You can go back to review what interests you most and skip what you already know, ask questions, answer questions, share your projects, and more.

The courses are divided into different units. Each one includes lessons, informational text, tasks, and practice exercises to help you carry out your project step by step, with additional complementary resources and downloads. You'll also have access to an exclusive forum where you can interact with the teacher and with other students, as well as share your work and your course project, creating a community around the course.

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Experimental Techniques for Picturebooks. Illustration course by Catarina Sobral

Experimental Techniques for Picturebooks

A course by Catarina Sobral
Author, Illustrator, and Director. Lisbon, Portugal.
Joined August 2020
  • 100% positive reviews (172)
  • 2278 students