This is the blog home of #kidlitart, a live Twitter chat Thursdays at 9:00 pm Eastern, for children's book illustrators, picture book authors, author/illustrators and friends. Check back weekly to read transcripts, comment on previous chats and suggest topics for upcoming chats.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


After years of doing the Picture Book Dummy Challenge, we here at #kidlitart wanted to mix things up. One of the most important factors in an illustrator getting assignments is their portfolio, so we're going back to basics. This year we are going to be kicking off the Build A Portfolio Challenge, or #BAPC. Here is the rundown:

1. During the last #kidlitart chat of each month a #BAPC portfolio prompt will be announced. For those seeking a real challenge, a secondary prompt will also be offered for each month. These prompts are to be completed during the month following the announcement. The goal is to have new pieces to add to your portfolio when the challenge concludes this summer. Whether that number is six or twelve, it is up to you.

2. The chats where the prompts are announced will focus on the theme of the prompt shared. Obviously everyone and anyone will still be able to participate in the chat. It will be children's illustration centered.

3 We will have three scheduled Show & Tells for participants to share their #BAPC pieces for critique, or just to get a pat on the back for finishing. If participants would like additional critique  this can take place in the #kidlitart Challenge FB group and will be self-directed.

4.  When you post your work on Twitter and especially Instagram, be sure to tag it with #BAPC so the #kidlitart community sees it! It wouldn't hurt to tag it with #kidlitart, either.

5. After every #BAPC prompt is announced in the #kidlitart chat, it will be added to the list below so that folks who miss the chat can keep up.

#BAPC Prompts: 
1. Create an illustration featuring HUMANS (aged from infants->toddlers) interacting. How many and what they’re doing is up to you, but they need to be LITTLE KIDS.

(Optional) Create a second piece featuring a small group of young children sporting different emotions and expressions than the first piece you illustrated.

*Keep in mind those chats about accurately reflecting the diverse world we live in as well as using your voice (personality) in the creation process.
*Remember our chats about varying expressions and how your portfolio shouldn't be filled with happy-happy-happy. Variety is the spice of life!
*This is also a great time to explore your character poses and postures. Expression isn't just in the face!
*Have FUN.

1. Create an illustration that features characters, composition, technique, medium, subject matter etc. that is completely outside the box for you. Bust out of your comfort zone for this one!

(Optional) Participate in the #kidlitart28 challenge. This is maybe a chance to explore your outside the box topic?

* The goal here is to try something new. Don't get locked in on perfection. Play, shape your personal challenge into something that appeals to you and it will actually become appealing.

1. Create a black and white illustration that would fit into the chapter book or middle grade market.

(Optional) Create a second piece featuring the same characters from in a scene with the opposite time of day or lighting as the first piece.

*Remember: chapter book readers are older readers, so your characters and scenes need to reflect that. No toddlers being featured.

*Don't forget to thumbnail like crazy. Play with composition, value, textures, etc BEFORE you go to final. Save yourself the heartache!

1. Illustrate a piece that focuses on setting. Consider inside and outside environment, contemporary or whimsical. Remember setting is important and should be just as developed as the characters in the scene (if there are any). Don't forget to play with a variety of compositions/perspectives to make the most of the scene.

(Optional)  Illustrate the same setting during the opposite time of day/lighting as the initial piece. This doesn't mean the perspective or composition has to be exactly the same. Just the location.

1. Create an illustration featuring animal characters: anthropomorphic or realistic in a scene or situation of your choosing.

(Optional) Illustrate a second piece featuring character(s) from the first piece in a different environment & time of day.

1. Illustrate a piece featuring characters (child-elderly) experiencing an emotion BESIDES "happy." They need to have something beyond the placid smile that is so easily a default expression for many illustrators. Choose the age of the character and their emotion wisely.

(Optional) Create a second piece featuring the same character(s) but with a different emotion: scared, exhausted, angry, suspicious, confused, satisfied so that the two pieces either show together as a cause+effect.


Questions? Comment below!


  1. This sounds like a challenge that should join in on! I write a series on my blog about creating a children's picture book illustration portfolio and part 4 on drawing children might be useful for January's prompt.

  2. This is exactly what I have been working on myself. I was debating participating in the PBDummy this year because I have another project I wanted to focus on until March. Thanks for creating the absolute perfect challenge at the absolute perfect time.

    will this replace #kidlitart28 this year?

    1. Nope! We'll still do #Kidlitart28, but Blythe and I are planning to roll the #BAPC prompt into our k28 theme, so we're killing two birds with one stone if that helps. ;)

  3. Awesome!!! Maybe, if you have the ideas for all the months, you can post them at once and let everyone try to create a Dummy book where every page is a different idea (it would be a great creative exercise!)

  4. Well, some of the prompts could potentially be connected. People are free to do that. But we're not going to release the prompts in advance. It goes against the whole pacing of the challenge, and the fact that we're actually a twitter chat centered community. When this is done participants will be able to collect the images in their portfolio. If they springboard from there into a dummy book more power to them! If you'd like a dummy challenge you can see the PB dummy challenge tag on the right side and see how we addressed that topic.

  5. This sounds terrific!! How do I sign up? :)

    1. Hi Lisa, no official sign up. You can tag your art if you share online, and share in our chats or in the FB group, but it's a self-paced project. Join us on Thursday nights at 9pm EST for the chats. Tweetdeck makes it much easier to follow.

  6. FANTASTIC!!! I love this Idea and the JAN challenge sounds like the perfect thing that I need to work on. Thanks for throwing these motivating deadlines out to keep us improving our work. Virtual Hugs!

  7. Alright, I'm in. I need something to gun my creative scooter.

  8. Sounds like what I need. Beefing up my portfolio and doing more people was 1 of my kidlitart goals for 2017

  9. I've just found out about this in Twitter.... Sounds really cool!

  10. Great post! Really insightful. I have not monetized by blog in any way, I didn’t even know where to begin. but you’ve given some helpful tips.