Open Sketchbooks - A Spring selection (Part 2)

JMW Turner's sketchbooks, early 19th Century
Rounding off our Spring selection of images, here are some more sketchbook pages from the ranks of SCBWI illustrator members, ranging from fantasy to working drawings, to observed sketches from life.

Everyone has their own favourite type of sketchbook and artists can be very partisan in their choice of size, brand and quality. Some of us enjoy making our own. In my own case I carry around an inexpensive pocket sized Japanese brand which I restock whenever I go back to Tokyo. Low price (but good quality) is important to me as it encourages a loose and relaxed attitude to drawing, I don't want to be too precious in the way I treat my sketchbook. Others prefer the classier attraction of Moleskin, or something bigger, or  leather-bound  - each to their own taste. The key thing is to be comfortable with your sketchbook and drawing/painting tools.

Here then are some more drawings for Spring from SCBWI illustrator members. Again, they range from character ideas to doodles, to observed drawings from life. And illustrators, do submit your sketchbook work for the next selection! Email up to two jpegs with captions and contact details to John at this address.

Deadlines have kept me pretty studio-bound these last months so virtually all of my recent sketchbook work has been doodling explorations of character and fantasy. These are for no intention other than time-off from commissioned work meandering with a pen. Perhaps some elements will one day find their way into a project! John Shelley

Some character idea studies. John Shelley
Sketching at Martin Mere wetland reserve in November and it was blowing a freezing cold gale out so I hid in the pink flamingo house...managed to sketch one flamingo before my fingers froze. Fiona Gomez
I was asked to imagine the people who work at the Rutland Osprey Project as children which actually made it a lot easier to create the images for the book. Fiona Gomez

Monica Rondino

Some character sketches from my notebook.
Using instant coffee with my thumb and water colour pencil. Paul Morton

And children sketches for same project, in pencil. Paul Morton
I love this drawing of my friend's son and his fantastic dragon costume. Definitely a starting place for a picture book... Sally Rowe

My sketchbooks are peppered with little drawings of people from the back view. They are often done in church or on trains then stuck in corners of pages, like this, so I don't lose them. One day I will need to draw an audience and they will come into their own! Sally Rowe
I'm writing and illustrating a picture book called Blue Bear and the Whistling Wind. Having just completed the dummy book and a couple of colour spreads, I'll be sending out to agents/publishers very soon. Suzanne Dore
Choosing what colours to use and how well they work together with the other main elements in the story. (The mice have remained this colour, Blue Bear however, demanded I changed his fur to French Ultramarine because he reckoned it looks better against the sky!) Suzanne Dore

Messy Kitchen - a mixture of observational drawings and mindless doodles!
Tania Farrugia
Max Can Do Anything - playing with ideas and colours for a picture book character about a dog who can do almost anything.
Tania Farrugia

Open sketchbooks is an ongoing call-out to all SCBWI BI illustrator members, so please continue submitting fresh work for the next selection! Sketches from life, ideas for books, character studies, working drawings or just plain doodling, a shortlist of images will be chosen for future posts. Send up to two snapshots or scans of your sketchbook pages to John at this address.


  1. Beautiful illustrations. Thank you for sharing

  2. An interesting selection again John, thanks. This is building to be quite an archive.

  3. Thanks for including me John, only just remembered to have a look at this page, I've been too busy drawing! :)


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