Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Illustration Masterclass: Art Directors Brief

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Date(s) - 08/10/2022
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Online - Online,

Art Directors Brief with Rocket Bird Books and publisher Libby Hamilton

This year the Art Director’s Brief is open to interpretation and limited only by your imagination.


NOT Cinderella!

What images are conjured up when you hear the title Cinderella? Can you slip easily into the fairy tale taking only good from it, or are the stereotypes, morals and beliefs out of place in today’s world?

Cinderella has been told and retold hundreds of times around the world with similar themes; overcoming oppression – good triumphs over evil – physical beauty is valued and rewarded – kindness will be repaid with riches in the end – step families and how they interact – marrying above ones social status is desirable – marriage is a solution to life’s problems and does this equal happy ever after?

Certainly the story of Cinderella has longevity, the earliest Greek version goes as far back as 1st century BC, retold by a Greek historian Strabo. A courtesan Rhodopis (Cinderella) has one of her shoes stolen by an eagle who flies far over the Mediterranean and drops it in the lap of an Egyptian King. Fascinated by the small shoe, he goes in search of the owner.

In China, Cinderella is ‘Ye Xian’. There is no Fairy godmother, but instead magical fishbones as the wicked stepmother had killed the magic fish which Ye Xian had befriended. This is more violent with the stepmother being crushed by falling stones.

Even darker versions came from Europe; In Italy Zezolla’s ‘Cenerentole’ (translated as Cat Cinderella) focuses on her trying to escape a forced marriage and six wicked step-sisters and In Germany 1812the Grimms tale Aschenputtel is gruesome with the step-sisters going as far as cutting off their toe and heel to fit into the shoe and worse; at the wedding of Cinderella and the prince, the step-sisters eyes are pecked out by birds.

Charles Perrault’s ‘Histoires au contes du temps’ in 1697 changes this to a lighter note and is the version the Disney has based their fairy tale on with a pumpkin, fairy godmother and glass slipper.

We would love you to re-tell this classic tale by bringing it right up to date. No need to write the story, but to have your own version at least in your mind will bring life to your sketches and illustrated spreads.

We ask firstly for character sketches – you can go wild with these, it will be really exciting to see how you portray your central character and the ugly sisters, wicked stepmother and Prince Charming in a new way.
At this stage also provide a mock up of one single page and one double page spread or two doubles, whichever you prefer. This will go to our AD for an initial review and they will provide some feedback for you to continue towards your final pieces.

Use a combination, pick one element or do your own thing, it’s up to you. Please provide a minimum of 3 roughs for your ideas. You will choose one spread or a single page and a spread for your final applying the feedback you receive from our guest art director.

Go wild with the characters, include LBGQ and diversity.

Re-examine the morals and beliefs and shape them into something more representative of the present times.

Research and illustrate any alternative versions of Cinderella.

Spread size: 23 cm x 40 cm (bleed size is 23.6 cm by 40.6 cm
Page size: 23 cm x 20 cm (bleed size is 23.6 x 20.6 cm).

Remember to design in areas for text and show your ideas for text in your roughs.

The Art Director’s Brief is offered as a two tiered booking. Participating in the feedback process for first the roughs and then final artwork is first come first served to the first fourteen bookings.

One place is available for feedback is still available for an under represented illustrator, please apply by emailing or

Timeline for submitting roughs and receiving initial feedback
31 July 2022 – Deadline for initial roughs (3) on 2 spreads or a full page and a spread along with character studies and colour palette if you have an idea at this point. Also please include a sample of your work, something you’ve already done in the past, to give Libby an idea of your approach to the illustration.

28 August – 4 September 2022 – Return of initial feedback to illustrators to apply to chosen 2 spreads or full page and a spread for 8 October 2022. Please note that if finishing 2 roughs or a full page and a rough for the 8 of October is a challenge, submit what you can.

A Dropbox link will be sent you to upload your work for both your roughs and your finals a week before your first deadline.

The first fourteen illustrators to book will be notified and invited to join a Facebook page to communicate with the Illustration Masterclass Team and each other as soon as that first number is reached.

Libby Hamilton is editorial director of picture books at Andersen Press. She has worked in publishing for almost 20 years, and has been fortunate enough to edit some incredible authors and illustrators including Jonny Duddle, Levi Pinfold, Jeanne Willis, Tony Ross, David McKee, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Foreman and Joseph Coelho. Books that she has collaborated on as editor have won the Kate Greenaway Medal (twice) and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, among other awards.

Libby’s new venture, publisher with Rocket Bird Books, as described by Libby: “Rocket Bird Books will be picture books with no limits – not on age, subject or format. This is about taking readers on adventures they will want to revisit again and again. When a child thinks of themselves as a book lover before they’ve even started the mechanics of reading, it has a powerfully positive impact on the rest of their life – that’s our mission and I am so proud to be leading it.”