Featured Illustrator: Paul Morton

This month's Featured Illustrator is well known SCBWI member and Words & Pictures contributor Paul Morton. A familiar face at Conferences, Paul has been a professional illustrator for many years, working on a wide range of media through his Hot Frog Graphics studio. See more of Paul's work here in the Featured Illustrator Gallery!


Frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs. 

Where did it all start? Well, in the 1960's there was a kid’s comic called Jack and Jill, and every so often there would be a feature about FrogMorton of Morton Hall, so since the age of about eight my nickname was of course, FROG. 

When I started my art studio on leaving college (Liverpool Poly, studying illustration) I thought of Hot Frog Graphics as a memorable and fiesty kinda name. It stuck, it worked, and 30 years on is still going strong. 

I've worked for many national and international clients and have had my artwork featured in magazines, Athena posters, greetings cards, children's games, some very famous chocolate bars, high street banks, CD covers, supermarket cereals, soft drinks, medicines, even more chocolate and yes, I get loads of yummy samples!! 

Work for Children

But my abiding and burning passion is for children's picture books. I've reviewed them for local newspapers, illustrated educational and novelty books and magazines, and every so often over the years, have focused my energies into producing my own picture book ideas. 

It's only been with the catalyst of SCBWI membership, over the last five to six years, that I've realised how to better harness the many skills needed to bring a successful picture book idea to realisation along with enough savvy craft to declare it presentable for submitting to publishers. 

My love of children's books started, not in childhood, but in our local children's library when I was 18 years old. We were taken there from art school and encouraged to get down and in amongst these little treasures and absorb their many wonders. To this day I can still reach out and recall that special bewitching magic that crackles in the air at Christmas time. For me, it's this kind of perfect expectant excitement that I want to invest into my stories and pictures. 

I've just finished illustrating two fun picture books for Cheeky Monkey Publishers in the UK, and have my own illustrated story out with three publishers at the moment. 

Studio Set-up

I work from home in one double bedroom studio with Apple Macs along one wall, and behind me drawing tables with lightbox and a few thousand colour pencils. My favourites are Karismacolor pencils, sadly no longer made, but there are others that come close to their waxy rich pigments - including Spectracolor, Prismacolour and Polycolor. I’ve also constructed a summer house at the end of the garden in an attempt to emulate Roald Dahl’s famous writing sanctuary muse. It seems to be working, as now just the smell of it’s wooden timberwork evokes cosy feelings of potential stories. 

I like to sketch and doodle my ideas into my look-a-like Moleskin notebooks using a soft black Polychromos pencil. Once these drawings are scanned into the Mac I have a vast and comprehensive toolbox at my fingertips in the shape of Photoshop. I discovered this wonderful programme at it’s inception and it has been invaluable and at the core of my creative work ever since. 

I like to have two or three picture book ideas simmering at the same time, as this seems to bring some objectivity to my approach on each one. Currently there are stories for Wiz-bod robots, piglets and two small children and monsters, all bubbling away merrily. 

I don't have an agent, but it's something I’ve been giving serious thought to regarding representation for my picture book work. If any art agents are interested in having a chat about this, please get in touch. 

My general illustration work can be seen on my Hot Frog website (you’ll be able to spot those very famous chocolates!)  And I have just updated my dedicated online publishing portfolio.

See more of Paul's work in our Featured Illustrator Gallery
Contact Paul by email here 
Hotfrog Graphics is to be found here.  
Paul's publishing portfolio is on Issu.


  1. Brilliant stuff as usual Paul! Adore the banner, the colour pencils work great. x

  2. Great to have a peek inside your studio, Paul, with your thousands of colour pencils! And I just adore your colourful and dramatic banner image.

  3. Great article, thanks Paul. Really interesting to read about your work set-up. Have you tried Derwent (Colorsoft and Inktense) pencils? Just wondering if you think they compare to Karisma - I used to love those too.

  4. I'm with Anna on the pots of pencils, Paul.
    I love your whales - the banner is is so beautifully blue and your little penguins so so cute.

  5. Thanks guys,
    I can appreciate why Van Gogh tried tasting his oil paints, sometimes those pencils look good enough to eat!
    And yes Layn, have tried Inktense - great for sketching along with a reservoir brush, but NO! not yet tried Coloursoft, much to my surprise. I shall do some very soon, thanks.

  6. Thanks for taking us into your workspace Paul! Great to discover your loose pencil work and the intense colour and texture of your whale on the banner too - was that mostly Karisma colour pencils?

    1. The whale is a bit over saturated I think as it's still RGB, there's no way to achieve that brightness in cmyk as you know, without special extra colours being added.
      There would have been some Karismacolour in there Bridget yes, but after working on the whale illustration I scanned it in, printed it back out on cartridge paper and then went back over it with Pastel Pencils (Caran D'ache) which then allows for brighter tones over the darker ones, rather than mixing in with them.

  7. Lovely to see your workspace, love the illustrations too.

  8. Thanks for the insight Paul and keep up the great work :-)


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