Writing and Illustrating for Children

Mon 12 September 2022 - Fri 16 September 2022
Tutors / Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty
Course Fee / From £575 - £675 per person
Genre / Writing for Children and Young Adults
Language / Bilingual

Whether you would like to write, illustrate or both, on this course you’ll have the opportunity to experiment with the two disciplines – and to explore how artist and writer work together to create a picture book.

Most children are introduced to the power of stories through picture books, the best of which tell a story through a combination of words and images that is greater than the sum of its parts. This course will explore how to generate and select the best ideas, and how to structure your narrative considering how the illustrations will play a part in telling the story. You will develop your own memorable characters and place them in a richly imagined world, adding layers of meaning through pictures and words. We’ll look at the pros and cons of writing in rhyme, and explore what different artistic styles can bring to a story. There will be opportunities to edit your work, which is an essential part of the process, and before the end of the course the tutors will share their experience of what publishers are looking for in a manuscript, and offer advice about preparing a portfolio.

Since moving to Wales when their children were small, both Helen and Thomas have learned Welsh. They have passed their Uwch (Higher) Welsh exams and, although this course will be run in English, they are happy to converse in Welsh and to work with anyone who would like to write a picture book text in Welsh.


Helen Docherty

Helen Docherty is a children’s writer based in Swansea. Her picture books, many of which are illustrated by Thomas Docherty, have been translated into 27 languages and shortlisted for various national awards. Helen has also collaborated with illustrators such as Ali Pye (You Can Never Run Out of Love, 2017), Erica Salcedo (The Bee Who Loved Words, 2023) and David Roberts (Someone Just Like You, 2023). Helen worked for many years as a French and Spanish teacher before becoming an author, and also has an MA in Film and Television Production from Bristol University, which helped her to develop her skills in crafting narrative. She is on the steering committee for the Society of Authors Wales, and delivers regular story and writing workshops for children and adults.

Thomas Docherty

Thomas Docherty is a children’s illustrator and writer who has won numerous awards for his illustrations. His book Little Boat (Templar Publishing, 2009) was shortlisted for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal in 2009. He has recently collaborated with former Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson, on two illustrated plays for children: Bombs and Blackberries (2020) and Chariots and Champions (2019) both published by Hodder Children's Books. He is currently illustrating The Hare-Shaped Hole (2023) by award-winning author John Dougherty. Thomas studied metalwork and sculpture at college before becoming an illustrator. He also teaches illustration and participates regularly in workshops and events all over the country.


Helen and Thomas often work together, and their books have been staged as plays, and even as a children’s opera by a school in Canada. Helen’s first rhyming story, The Snatchabook (Alison Green Books, 2013) is illustrated by Thomas. It has been translated into 22 languages and won the Oldham Brilliant Book Award. The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight (Alison Green Books, 2016) won the Bae Baglan Award 2017; both awards were voted for by school children. The Screen Thief (2021) is their latest book together, and will be followed by Orange Moon, Blue Baboon in autumn 2022.

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