Words & Pictures' illustration feature editor Tita Berredo presents a Spring glimpse into the current work of SCBWI illustrators. Take a look along the lines of their analogue and digital brushes. As from this year we also invite illustrators to share their digital roughs (after all, some of us sketch on screens too).

Ah, the sketchbook... the place where we get to express our dreams. Where ideas are born and characters blossom. A tool of discovery, practice, and understanding. Of course, a lot of rubbish too - but the best of kind! For who has never done a silly doodle that became part of a much bigger story? Who has never faced a foot with too many toes - or not enough of them for that matter? The sketchbook is the illustrator's best friend, the non judgemental stage of rehearsal in which mistakes can spur fantasy and where creativity is never mocked. SCBWI member illustrators open their sketchbooks and share the hard and thorough work behind the scenes of a rendered image. Enjoy!

(To know more about the artists, simply click on their names)

Corryn Webb

Coblynnau- I spend a lot of time reading and researching Welsh mythology and these are my interpretation of the Coblynnau a Welsh miner fairy that features in my graphic novel, complete with cat skull helmet.

Mermaid Lae and Kit - These are 2 little characters that popped into existence in #mermay back in 2020 that I’m getting ready to revisit next month with what I hope will be my second graphic novel writing project!

Tinnitus & Mojojojo - This is a double offering, the first rough doodle of a 2-panel comic inspired by living with tinnitus and some portraits of my beautiful Mojo I drew on the day she passed. 

Imogen Foxwell

Pages from my sketchbook/diary. I draw something every day, even though some days nothing more exciting happens than taking out the bins! It's a mixture of sketches from life and from memory.

The day we made Canadian butter tarts in honour of the Winter Olympics
(everyone should try them!)

A trip to the local farmer's market

Walk by the river. I'm very proud of how the wintry sky came out.

Wotdoing - A little pug was watching me in Hebden. Couldn’t resist trying to capture his curiosity.

Working Roughs - Rough sketches for a clients spec.

Alex Crump

Digital sketch and colour variations for a piece themed around "a day off" that I was getting ready for an online contest. The idea was the joy and tranquillity of time spent baking. Experimenting with colour and watching it influence the mood and the story is one of my favourite steps in the creative process.

This piece was created as I thought back to childhood and remembered how important a teddy can be - they are there for you when you are sad and can be taken on fun adventures too. I wanted to capture this in the character sheet I created, bringing the teddy to life in a way a child may see them. I then chose my favourite image and painted it in gouache and pencil crayons, on watercolour paper. The second image shows my process before I finished the final piece.

All images were works in progress sketches for Cricket Media. These were all initial sketches which had to be pre approved by their team before going ahead to full colour artwork. I usually work really loose to begin with, so these rough sketches are maybe the third or fourth trace. I know I’ve got it when the feeling I’m trying to get comes through in the sketch.

A poem by Leslie Whitaker called 'Wheels'.

A sketch is to go with a poem by Jill Esbaum called 'At Storms End'.

To accompany a poem called Postcard to the Moon by Julie Douglas.

Clare Andrews

My sketchbooks often end up a mix of observational drawing, developmental work for a picture book project and little random doodles inspired by something I may have spotted during the day. After battling for years to keep these three ways of working separate, I have given in to having a random unrelated drawing appear amongst some project work, and actually sometimes I think these appearances can sometimes spark some new life into these projects. My sketchbook work is often very messy and badly drawn, but that's ok as it's only for my eyes!

Memory drawings - These are usually very quick sketches, and are a great warm up exercise. They remind me to keep looking for the little moments that might someday make their way into one of my illustrations. I drew this after seeing a woman trying to do yoga in the park, but her dog thought it was a game and kept joining in.

Developmental work - This is an example of trying to get some initial characters onto a page. They are often very badly drawn but at this stage, it's more about finding a character that will interest me. I was quite embarrassed
to show these roughs, but sometimes it's useful to see that sketchbooks don't have to look too pretty!

Observational drawing. I have recently graduated from the Cambridge M.A. in children's book illustration,
and a huge part of the course teaches you how observational drawing can improve your illustration.
It is a habit I am so happy I have got into, and I try to incorporate it into my weekly routine.
This is a drawing I made at work, using Inktense pencils and a water-brush. 

This is a sketch for a potential idea to do with identity and what makes me who I am, I fleshed this out to submit to a publication called the little living room. The wave behind the person is the non-binary flag colours in the final reiteration.

My storyboard for a mock up animation I’ll be doing to support WWF and earth week to do
with endangered species’ and deforestation.

This is a typical (digital) Sketchbook page where I’ve focused on character posing and expression.

This is a scene study from my current WIP a YF story illustrated in monochrome which I’m hoping to find an agent for.
This is a sketch from one of my favourite books which I re-read recently, The Mouse and His Child,
by Russell Hoban. It’s a book I’d like to illustrate as an exercise.

This is a series of character exploration with massing for a mentorship. I started by making blobs of shapes
with a grey marker, then filled in the details with a thin pen.

This sketch was an exploration of the different cultural shocks my kids go through when visiting my hometown (we live in Denmark and my father lives in Taiwan). In the end, I narrowed it down to their different experiences of the sun in the two cultures, which is very different from the initial concept but I still had a lot of fun!
The mediums are pencils and watercolour pencils.

The last sketch is one of many mock cover designs for a series of preteen chapter books.
It is a cleaned up sketch made with pencils. 

Observational drawing in my kitchen, capturing my children and objects around me.
These were quick sketches using 2 felt tip pens that were laying around.

Observational and imagined (rhs) sketches of my son and dog using a China Graph pencil.

Initial character sketches for an illustration about Earth Day. Drawn with China Graph pencil.

Josie Macey

These images were part of an instagram challenge depicting a story about a friendship between a little girl and a dragon. These lovely houses are in the street where my uncle lives and I thought they would make the perfect setting for the story.

Sketchbook work for character studies for Penguin Random House - House of Serendipity by Lucy Ivison. The book is about a young debutante and her young maid, and their flourishing friendship. The girls have a creative flair and they end up working together to build a fashion empire.

Sketchbook work for the same book, developing the ideas for the fashions
and styles to be used in the interior artwork for the book.

Character development and fashion creations (I was asked to visualise design ideas
for the main characters and draw clothes the characters would wear.)

I often draw in my local town, Stroud, trying to capture the busy feel of the cafes and market.

I drew the cafe on the left one Saturday, then decided to add its neighbour the week after.

I drew in the Farmer's Market as they were setting it up, and left when it got too crowded.
I added some more detail at home. 

Ducks - Practicing drawing duck characters in different poses

Bougainvillea - Practicing drawing flowers and playing with marker colours.

Tonka Uzu

Two sketches made during a trip in Paris last October. I often take very quick sketches, consisting of just a few lines or blotches of colour to work on later on.

Ink studies of people are random invented characters.

I wanted to record the moment of a girl licking a cake in a patisserie.

A huge thank you to all the illustrators who have sent their work to me! I personally enjoyed going through so many creative artwork and different styles. The best part of seeing those is browsing each artist's website and spotting their finished work. Just amazing!

If you want your sketches to be featured on the next Open Sketchbooks, email me at with the following:

1) Up to 3 jpeg scans, snapshots from the pages of your sketchbook, or jpegs of your work in progress if you work with digital media.

2) A few words explaining each image (what was it for, the circumstances/location, etc.)

3) your website URL + Social Media or other platform.

Hurry up, the next issue is coming soon!

Header image ©Tita Berredo


Tita Berredo is the Illustration Features Editor at Words & Pictures. She has a Master's degree in Children's Literature and Illustration from Goldsmiths UOL, and a background in social communications, marketing and publicity. Follow @titaberredo


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