OPEN SKETCHBOOKS Summer 2017 Part 4

Pencils sharpened! John Shelley presents a fourth and (for the moment) final selection of sketchbook pages from SCBWI member illustrators.

Summer may already seem a distant memory to some of us, but as the weather gets cooler here's a last heart-warming peek within the sunny sketchbooks of SCBWI illustrator members. This month we have animals of all descriptions, picture book roughs, sketches from life and just plain doodling.

Chantal Bourgonje

Character sketches of Little Piglet Kay for a picture book I’m writing and illustrating © Chantal Bourgonje
Momo, Noush and Maude sleeping in the hay, a sketch for another picture book I’m writing and illustrating © Chantal Bourgonje


Bridget Marzo

Here are some rapid sketches of children from France this summer. All done with Pilot GTec C4 pens and at times Neocolor watercolour crayons.

© Bridget Marzo

Clare Tovey

The paper in my sketchbooks has a slightly pink tone,  I like the softness, although it's not ideal for reproduction.  Tools: Blackwing pencil, 2B pencil, water colour for the out and about sketches; Artpen and watercolour pencils for the early morning Poppy cat.

© Clare Tovey


Emma Graham

A few piccies from a current sketchbook project. A bit of playing with characters for one of my stories, hoping to send a few finals from these developments off to The Hook   speed dating for illustrators competition.

© Emma Graham

Hannah Shewan

Sketch ups for a children's book that I'm writing. © Hannah Shewan

Hannah Malkin

Watercolour sketches whilst waiting at the bus stop in Trento, Italy. © Hannah Malkin
Daily draw pencil crayon images in my homemade sketchbook. © Hannah Malkin


Sally Rowe

Warm up drawings © Sally Rowe


Jill Calder

These are both from sketchbooks created whilst illustrating The Picture Atlas (Bloomsbury, out on 21st Sept!).

I draw quite randomly in my sketchbooks and this is a good example of that, with bits of lettering and scribbly drawings well as drawings I’ll use as final art. The drawings were used for spreads about Central America and the Rainforest.
I scan these pages, edit anything too wonky then colour digitally. Drawings are done with a Japanese brush pen and Staedtler fineliner pen. © Jill Calder

This is still for The Picture Atlas but is an actual observational drawing done in Mauritius! (no they didn’t pay me to go there!) There’s a spread about The Indian Ocean and so I wanted to draw as much from life as I could to use in the book. It’s a view from the very north of the island looking out to the Indian Ocean - the red bird is a Red-whiskered Bulbul. This drawing done with colour pencils. © Jill Calder

John Shelley

My working sketches for commissioned projects are usually very scribbly on loose sheets of scrap paper, my sketchbooks on the other hand have become more about exploration and development   time off from commissions to shake up and expand my horizons. Partly it's about unlocking themes that may spark picture book ideas or lead to exhibition pieces. But mostly it's just getting into the groove, the pleasure of drawing without plan or design, just seeing what develops on the page.
Lunchtime cafe meandering in my pocket sketchbook with a Pilot Hi-Tec 0.4. It started with just one fish... © John Shelley

Pen doodling with a Hi-Tec 0.5 in front of the telly.  © John Shelley


Sally Walker

My daughter's swimming lesson is one of my favourite places to do some observational drawing. The children look so alike in their swimming hats and are constantly moving so its a great challenge to capture them. The pool where I take her has an elevated viewing point perfect for drawing. © Sally Walker
Playing around with frogs and stamps. © Sally Walker

Suzanne Dore

I don’t tend to do much sketching in an actual book anymore as I find cheap white printer page much more liberating! (and it’s easier to scan in afterwards too.) Anyway, these are early idea-forming sketches/doodles for my personal project Horace and Hettie (in the Great Sweet Robbery).
A few initial doodles, where I'm thrashing out the colours, the characters and the overall ideas. I normally do this sort of sheet before I do the character study sheets, to free me up. ©Susan Dore

Really rough spread layout ideas, there is no story yet I’m just playing around with things that could happen… © Susan Dore

To see the previous selections over this summer click here to go to Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.
Enormous thanks to all the illustrators who sent in snapshots of their sketchbooks. We'll be back with a fresh collection in a few months, but please do keep sending your sketchbook images in the call-out is ongoing!

Header image: © John Shelley


John Shelley is the illustrations features editor for Words & Pictures.
Twitter/Instagram: @StudioNIB


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