Open Sketchbooks Part 1

This week we're taking a peek inside the hidden sketchbook pages of SCBWI member illustrators. 

Sketchbooks are one of the most essential pieces of equipment of any illustrator. The pages of our sketchbooks are where we plan our illustrations, record the things around us, and where we let our imaginations loose. As the Spring weather draws us outside, we thought we'd ask members what they're getting up to in their scribble books recently, whether drawings from life, working drawings, or drawing for pleasure.

The response has been overwhelming, both in the volume of submissions and the variety of sketches. We've actually had more submissions than we can easily fit into one post, so here's a first selection; another will follow shortly!

Click on the artist's name to see their website.

Angela Russell - Fire Cat sketch from the book Dance of the Fire Cat
Cathy Hookey - A double page collection of work I made at drawing event I went to in Brookyln, NY late last year. The event was held in an artist's apartment, where in every room there were multiple nude models, who posed while the artist moved around 'curating' the action. This led to some of the most beautifully surrealist life drawing I've ever done as well as a very memorable night!
Ellen Walker - two illustrations inspired by CS Lewis' Narnia series.
Evi Gstottner - animal character studies for a children’s picture book
Hannah Asen - quick character sketches for a picture book featuring a hippo
Jane Heinrichs - Sketching in Austria.
Linda Aitch
Linda Farfort - An imagined scene depicting two families boarding the Vic 32 Puffer boat at Crinan Canal (Scotland), with onlookers and passers by. Produced as a rough for a storybook.

Olivia Palmer - Sketchbook drawings of two busy fairies baking cakes and painting
Rikin Parekh - This double page spread is from my on-going sketchbook. I even take it to school and doodle out ideas during my lunch break!
This specific double page spread contains ideas for a picture book idea I came up with after remembering the madness that ensued when I worked with Year 1.
It was “Golden Time” and at first one child asked me for a drawing of Superman. I ended up drawing twenty Superman drawings, a few Batman ones and a drawing of a bike that was chucked in the bin by the child who said “That’s crap!”

It’s fun to draw ☺

Sarah Underwood - A quick observational sketch at the Imagine festival 2015, Southbank, Royal Festival Hall, where I was helping children on one of the activity tables.
Sue Eves - “Snow Goose” – pencil and gouache
Study for a character in a hat for a holiday greetings card. I shared the final image on my twitter profile @sueeves. It resulted in a commission from The Golden Egg Academy for their Christmas newsletter 2014. I reworked the illustration so that the goose was offering a golden egg.

Sue Rundle-Hughes - a character I sketched last year when I was bored. I've called her Scary Fairy. I need to think of a story for her now.

Tolu Shofule - The Gatekeeper

Many thanks to all the artists! If you're a British Isles SCBWI member please do consider submitting a sketchbook image to We'll post another selection of sketchbook drawings shortly.


  1. These are fabulous - it's so interesting to see such a range of works in progress. Thank you for submitting!

  2. Great idea! It would be great if this was a regular feature. I love looking in peoples sketchbooks.

  3. What a brilliant idea! I loved seeing these:)

  4. I hope this becomes a regular feature. Loved it!

  5. I hope this becomes a regular feature. Loved it!

  6. It's a wonderful and diverse selection . I'll be following this project.

  7. What a wonderful insight into how these illustrators work! I loved it. Thank you.


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