Smart Dummies

Smart Dummies registration is now Closed. Sorry you missed us this year. Please sign up for emails for next year's event. 

If you missed the event you can still download the FREE booklet here: Physical copies will be available a few months before the event. Please allow at least 3 weeks for delivery (as sending them over the border takes time).

If you have trouble registering (or anything else) you can email me at: 

Be sure to follow this blog by email to get reminders and read other great posts.

Smart Dummies is a whole month dedicated to helping Illustrators to create their picture book dummies! This is a FREE EVENT!

When is it? Smart Dummies starts September 1st. There will be a pre-event in August to help you get a head start.

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Where can I find more info? Join the group on Facebook! This group is for anyone interested in making picture book dummies! You do not have to participate in the event to join.

How do I sign up? Sign up runs late July-September 7th. The extended time is for people starting in August for Pre-Smart Dummies. Be sure to follow my blog by email so you can keep up to date with any announcements. Registration is absolutely free for this event!

What's the goal? The goal is to complete the basic images for your picture book dummy in one month. We work on the honor system, so you don't need to post any images to win. 

Are there prizes? Absolutely! Below is the list of last year's prizes.

What do I need to bring? A polished manuscript, a story/song/rhyme in the public domain (think Grimm's Fairy Tales). It's strongly recommended that you have a story to work on. If your story is all in pictures bring art notes, strong art ideas or thumbnails to draw from.  You do not have to be a Writer to join. If you want your story to be wordless, that's okay!

How can I help? If you are a published Illustrator and would like to do a guest post, please email me at  or using my contact form.  For this event I'll be mostly approaching people who have published work, have worked in Illustration for years or those who have special insight into creating picture books. You are also welcomed to contact me if you have a prize to donate!

Who are the guests? A list of guests will be posted in August! See the list of guest from last year below.

Smart Dummies 2018 guests
Mira Reisberg 


Aijung Kim was so happy with her prize last year that she's donating some of her lovely art cards!

Mira Reisberg - 5 Ways to Make a Dummy Course

Kristin Wauson - A critique of 2 to 3 illustrations from someone’s dummy or portfolio

Emily Wayne -  A 5x7 original sketch in pen and Copic marker

Traci Van Wagoner A poster of her art through Traci's Redbubble store.

Dani Duck - Portfolio Website Critique

Marla LesageA Portfolio Critique OR Dummy Critique!

Sarah LuAnn Perkins 8x10" print from her print shop!

Viviane Elbee 8 x 10 Poster

Smart Dummies 2017 guests


Arree Chung - A copy of "Out" by Aree Chung
Mira Reisberg - A free Photoshop course and a separate prize of a Hero's Art Journey course
Sharon Chriscoe - An Autographed Copy of "Race Car Dreams" and Swag
Mark Mitchell -  1 Year Subscription to Guest Group Critiques
Teresa Robeson - Scripta Note Book  (Ruled and Blank Pages) and Fiber Castell Pitt Artist Pen
Becky Fyfe A Copy of "Teapot Tales"
Emmeline Forestal - Portfolio Review
Elizabeth Rose Stanton - copies of Henny and Peddles, one each, signed (and will throw in a copy of Bub,too, if the winner is willing to wait until January).
Jennifer Adams - Books "My Little Cities London" and "My Little Cities NY"
Ben Clanton  - blank book from and copy of Narwhal
Yvonne Mes - Picture Book Critique
Sophia from Rate Your Story - A Free Speed Pass (1 Time Submission)
Chieu Ahn Urban - two copies of "Color Wonder Hooray for Spring!"
Jennifer Thermes - "Charles Darwin Around the World" book
Leila Nabih An Adaptation of "Little Red Riding Hood"
Susan Eaddy "My Love for you is the Sun", by Julie Hedlund and illustrated by Susan Eaddy and "Poppy’s Best Paper", written by Susan Eaddy and illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet
Shawna Tenney A copy of Brunhilda's Backwards Day

Smart Dummies 2016 Guest List:


Photoshop or Hero's Art Journey course (your choice) - Mira Reisberg
Make your Marks & Splashes course. 
A one-year subscription to Guest Group Critiques- Mark G Mitchell
Drawing - Tim Egan 
A review copy of "Toby"Hazel Mitchell
Torn tissue illustration - Toni Yuly
"The Egg Thief" - Lauren Gallegos
"If Kids Ruled the World" and "Manners are Not for Monkeys" David Huyck
"Get the Wiggles Out" and "Let's Cooperate" books and a signed A4 print. - Tom Heard
"Ring Around the Rosie",  and an original Buddha painting on paperGina Perry

2015 Guests: 

Ed Shems
Rubin Pingk
Mira Reisberg
Nicky Johnston
Dani Jones
Mary Reaves Uhles
Alison Hertz
Patricia Pinsk
Cyndi Marko
Matthew Winner
Stephen Maquignon
Lauren Eldridge
Stephanie Ruble
Russ Cox
Lisa Cinar
Jami Gigot
Traci Van Wagoner
Joel Cook
Diandra Mae
Ryan Sias
Andi Butler
Anna Todaro
Ovi Nedelcu
Tara Lazar
Neesha Hudson
Maple Lam
Nina Crittenden
Sue Frye
Julie Hedlund
Suzanne Del Rizzo
Akemi Ito

2015's Prizes:

Photoshop Course - Mira Reisberg
Portfolio Review - Mary Reaves Uhles
Cedric and the Dragon by Nina Crittenden
Two Girls Want a Puppy - Maple Lam
Three sets of 2 art postcards - Stephen Maquignon
The Mermaid’s Gift - Traci Van Wagoner 
Dummy Critique - Lauren Eldridge
How to Promote Your Children's Book Katie Davis
2 copies of Zebrafish (hard and soft cover), SPF 40 (Zebrafish), Cloverleaf pack of 3 - Be Aware!: My Tips for Personal Safety, Move Your Body!: My Exercise Tips and Keep Calm!: My Stress-busting Tips - Renee Kurilla
Mae and the Moon - Jami Gigot
2 books from the Puppy Pirate series, a Freddy Frogcaster book and a drawing - Russ Cox


  1. Hello! It's now September 9th. Where does one sign up? Thank you. :)

    1. Hi Alexandra, I'm so sorry! The sign up will start September 15th and run through October 7th. For some reason I wrote the 1st. I'm so sorry about that!

  2. This year's event will be in September. Sign up will start August 15th. There will be a pre-event in August!

  3. I have 2 questions.
    1: where do we post our progress to, so that you know we are doing our homework?
    2: do we have to post our entire story? I am worried about someone stealing my work.

    1. I saw this in my email but couldn't find it right away so sorry I didn't answer sooner.

      The answer to both your questions is that everything is on the honors system! You are only hurting yourself if you don't do the work. There is a workbook you can download and that will help you to keep track of yourself throughout the process.