What's In This Course?

Character and Costume Design with Lily Williams covers the fundamentals of Character and Costume Design for Children's Publishing (with some discussion about Animation) taught by award winning Children's Book author, illustrator, graphic novelist, and costume and character designer, Lily Williams.

The course is split into four weeks that includes over two and a half hours of video lectures and demonstrations, and weekly homework assignments. In this course we cover an overview of character design, cartooning body and anatomy, shape language, historical and contemporary character design in children's book illustration, costume design, and career preferences.

This four week intensive course is designed to work with your busy schedule in mind!

Cuddlefish Course Coaching Options

This course has both Self Swimmer and Cuddle-Coaching options for the same four-week class with video lectures, demos, and homework assignments.

  • Self Swimmer classes are self guided courses with no feedback from your Cuddle Coach, Lily Williams. You are free to swim through the class at your own pace!

  • A Cuddle-Coaching subscription comes with access to personalized feedback and critique on each weeks Assignment. Each week you will watch the provided videos, download the week's Assignment, and complete the Assignment. You will email your finished Assignment by Sunday night of the same week to your Cuddle-Coach. Your coach will return feedback for your consideration by Friday at midnight the following week.

This course is perfect for Minnows to Whale Sharks.

Cuddlefish Levels

Minnows: Novice illustrators, traditionally educated or self-taught, just swimming out into the kidlit illustration ocean. 

Tuna: Intermediate illustrators with some professional experience looking to tuna-up their skills and become a bigger kidlit fish while keeping their fin in the door.

Sharks: Seasoned illustration professionals looking to sharpen their teeth on advanced skill sets. 

Whale Sharks: Big fish, hungry to keep their illustration skills updated or take on new areas of kidlit illustration.

Overview of Character Design

Explore the fundamentals of design thinking within the context of Character Design. What makes a good character design? And how do we make nuanced, dynamic characters that fit within our stories?

Body Anatomy and Shape Language

By breaking down the human form and study anatomy through the inside out, we apply shape language to a solid under structure... making dynamic and appealing cartooned characters.


Breaking down the mystifying cloud around children's publishing and animation with an overview on portfolio building and how to differentiate your characters for a variety of industries.

See what others

have to say...

"An informative class with an attentive instructor. The lectures/assignments are all well thought out and designed to be repeatable. Course work can be easily applied to real world practice and daily routine. Communication is very quick and responsive. You will likely receive answers to questions as well as feedback in a timely manner. This class is well worth it for any Illustrator."

-John L.

"This class was extremely helpful in getting insights about character design tactics and portfolio expectations in the industry. It helped me make some connections that seem obvious in retrospect, but that I needed a little push to truly understand. I also learned some techniques that were completely new to me regarding drawing the human figure which were very helpful. I work full-time and attend school part-time, so having the flexibility that the Self-Swimmer course offered was awesome. Great class!"

- Anthony P.

"I took the Character and Costume Design Self-Swimmer Course and upon my completion of my lessons I had a professionally constructed portfolio piece. The courses were well guided and provide tons of materials/information that make you feel confident in your designs. As the course lasted only 4 weeks, it was the perfect amount of time to be attentive and keep up with assignments without falling behind or feeling overwhelmed. I recommend The Cuddlefish Academy to anyone who has a busy life but wants to learn these key lessons to become an artist in the kidlit industry."

- Max L.

"Lily was very thorough with the anatomy lesson. She made it seem less complicated and intimidating, which made it a great starting point before diving into movement and shape language. Lily gives very detailed feedback and goes above and beyond to make sure each section of the class is understood. I not only recommend Lily's class but the whole cuddle fish academy as a great resource for anyone interested in perusing art as a career or hobby."

- Penny S.

Course Curriculum

  Week 1 // Introduction & Character Design Overview
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  Week 2 // Anatomy and Movement & Shape Language
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  Week 3 // Historical & Contemporary
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  Week 4 // Costume Design & Preferences
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Choose a Pricing Option

Meet Your Instructor!

Lily Williams is an author, illustrator, and storyteller who seeks to inspire change through education. Her work covers many topics, from the trophic cascade in the award-winning animated documentary short film FINconceivable and critically acclaimed award-winning If Animals Disappeared nonfiction picture book series, to menstrual equity in the LA Times Book Prize finalist and Eisner Nominated graphic novel, Go With The Flow, to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in her My O.C.D. Story and I’m So O.C.D. That… comics and upcoming graphic novel Exposures (First Second). Lily believes in the power of making information fun, educational, and accessible for all audiences.

Lily grew up in Northern California where she graduated from California College of the Arts with a B.F.A. in Animation. She spent time working in feature film animation in Los Angeles before becoming a freelance illustrator. In addition to public speaking engagements, Lily teaches kids of all ages in a variety of settings through University classes, public school, and online.

When she isn’t creating, Lily can be found dreaming about the smell of cold winter air, listening for the sound of airplanes on a rainy day, and perfecting her gluten-free waffle recipe. Lily lives in Colorado with her husband and fellow illustrator, C. Grey Hawkins, and their rescue rabbit.