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Illustration: The Graphic Novel Summer Intensive

Storytelling through illustration and the power of imagination

Dates: New dates to be announced soon

Duration: Five days

Location: RCA White City

Regular price: £1,200

Please note: ​​​​​the course fee does not include materials, accommodation, food or transport. 

Register your interest

Course overview

‘Man is god when he dreams, a beggar when he thinks.’ Friedrich Hölderlin, Hyperion or the Hermit in Greece (1797)

Human beings have a natural need for storytelling. We love to hear stories, read books and watch films. Some of us like to recall autobiographical incidents, reflect upon memories, gossip or simply chat. It can be difficult to create a narrative that engages with a wide audience.

This five-day short course offers illustration, graphic design and visual communication students and professionals the opportunity to develop a process of storytelling within the interdisciplinary context of graphic novels. 

The course is led by Andrzej Klimowski, Emeritus Professor of Illustration.

Each participant will work on an individual project that follows two phases: 

  • Liberating your creativity and triggering your imagination through engaging in an intuitive stream of consciousness approach to drawing that aims to open up new narrative possibilities.
  • Editing your drawings to design and structure the visual narrative for a story by engaging with composition, tone, colour, pacing and tempo. 

The outcome will be a print and/or digital illustrated graphic novel, limited to 16 pages in maximum A4 format in black and white. 

The course aims to establish an intensive learning environment, offering practical and theoretical guidance in forging your illustration practice to use in your studies, organisation or for personal development. You will be encouraged to consider:

  •  location, point of view, light and shadow
  • characterisation as revealed through appearance (body language, facial expression, costume) 
  • objects and props (organic or artificial)
  • words and sounds suggested through visuals.

The workshop will be accompanied by illustrated lectures and film screenings on visual narratives and contemporary illustration practices in the context of graphic novels.

At the end of the course there will be a final presentation in the studios, followed by a drinks reception with RCA tutors.

How will I learn?

Learning takes place in groups of up to 20 participants. 

Through a series of workshops, lectures, practical exercises and presentations you will:

  • experience the RCA model of studio teaching and practice to develop design and presentation techniques while building a portfolio
  • work collaboratively with a diverse range of colleagues from varied backgrounds, honing teamwork and leadership skills
  • work with leading design practitioners and educators to develop a critical, creative and insightful practice
  • develop an enhanced notion of what a contemporary illustration practice can be
  • expand your skills and grow confidence in making your own work.

You will learn to:

  • deepen understanding of contemporary approaches to storytelling, visual narratives and illustration in the context of graphic novels
  • gain and share insights on the potential of location, characterisation, materiality and perception in the creation of visual narratives and graphic novels
  • develop confidence in illustration and visual narratives in a variety of traditional and contemporary settings  from print to electronic, handmade to computer generated.

Course outcomes

  • a collection of original drawings
  • Illustration graphic novel publication (print and/or digital)

Who should attend?

Those who should attend include:

  • current illustration and graphic design students
  • those preparing for Master’s-level study
  • recent graduates 
  • professionals working in illustration, visual communication and/or communication design 
  • those seeking an opportunity to experiment in a ‘safe’ environment without the limitations of professional life, and where the only rule is the need to be brave.

Programme team

Professor Emeritus Andrzej Klimowski, who was born to Polish parents in London, retains strong links with Poland, where he lived and worked for some years. During his career he has made films and written graphic novels. He has designed theatre posters and book covers for leading publishers. He was Head of Illustration at the Royal College of Art for many years, and is now Professor Emeritus. He continues to produce graphic novels with his wife Danusia Schejbal, works in graphics and produces illustrations. He also makes films. His work has been the subject of a retrospective at the National Theatre, London.

The Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter expressed his admiration for Klimowski: ‘A few words about Klimowski? Impossible. You can't capture an imagination such as his in a sentence or two. He is a free man and you'll never catch him...He leads the field by a very long furlong, out on his own, making his own weather. He is Klimowski, unafraid.’ 


The Visual Communication programme at the Royal College of Art has a wide variety of illustration expertise within its teaching cohort. The full list of academics and external practitioners names is to be announced.

Admission criteria

Applicants must be 18 years or over.

It is preferable for participants to have:

  • an undergraduate degree in design or a background in illustration
  • a basic understanding of typography
  • a good level of English language.

Disclaimer: The information given is accurate at the time of publication, however, the RCA reserves the right to amend the described courses as circumstances dictate.


School of Communication Executive Education

+44 (0)20 7590 4279
[email protected]

Please review our FAQs to keep up to date with the latest information about Coronavirus (Covid-19) and how it affects the RCA short courses.

Please register your interest to download the full course description.

"What distinguishes this course from many others is that apart from giving students sound technical and theoretical advice, it focuses on artistic freedom and offers space for self expression." Andrzej Klimowski

Emeritus Professor of Illustration

"The course is excellent in every aspect. I felt immersed in the cultural environment and renewed my views of art and illustration." Anjie Shi

Graphic Design Student July 2019

Andrzej Klimowski
Andrzej Klimowski