Words & Pictures' illustration feature editor Tita Berredo presents the second round of SCBWI illustrators' sketches. Take a look along the lines of their analogue and digital brushes.

Most people don't appreciate all the messy hard work that goes behind the scenes of picture books and polished finished artworks. It is quite reassuring to see that other artists go through the same steps, struggles and mistakes. To be able to show unfinished work is a brave thing and important step for an illustrator. I felt proud and inspired by going through the submissions. Hope you feel the same. So here we go, another selection of amazing sketches, doodles, and works in progress by the talented SCBWI illustrator members. Enjoy!

(click on the illustrators' names to see more of their artwork)

Jill Calder

These are some sketchbooks from my exhibition, 'Blink of ink...the Creative World of Jill Calder' that is on at Callendar House 30 April - 11 September. It displays over 30 years of my illustration work from editorial, book art and children's books.

This little sketchbook and the drawing sheets underneath are from 'The Picture Atlas' which published in 2017.
I like to plan rough ideas for spreads, small thumbnails really.
Other sketchbook drawings, if good enough, get used as final artwork.
(Photo by Kornelija Kuzmickaite)

Also in my exhibition: underneath a display of my favourite drawing tools is a sketch sheet from May 2020, when I signed up to the 'Find Your Creative Voice' course run by The Good Ship Illustration (re-find in my case). It was drawing things from memory, like wee ornaments, family stories, photographs etc, that meant a lot to you.
(Photo by Kornelija Kuzmickaite)

From 1998! I travelled to Mexico and absolutely loved drawing the markets, streets and people there.
These pages were done from life in Oaxaca Market, full of life and colour. This was a little ice cream stall
that lots of people stopped to have a cooling 'helado' in on a very hot day!
(Photo by Kornelija Kuzmickaite)

José Luis Tejero

Observational drawing made in location (In front of the Great St Mary's, The University Church),
during my Master in Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art

Observational drawing made in location (Cambridge Market Square), during my Master in
Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art

Colour exploration and character designs for a children's book project during my Master in
Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art

Corryn Webb

Llanhigyn y dwr - I spend a lot of time reading and researching Welsh mythology and these are
my interpretation of Llanhigyn y dwr, water leapers, a mythological Welsh creature
that can be found around fresh water in the depths of Wales.

Mo and Jo - On the left are some thumbnails for banner ideas for social media and my Patreon page and on the left are the main characters of a midgrade story I’m working on called MoJo, which I hope to be my debut graphic novel.

Mushrooms - I am fascinated by mushrooms. These are just doodles done trying to process some
ideas that centre on mushrooms and in particular their incredible root system.

Sally Kindberg

I use my notebooks as a visual diary, a nursery for new ideas or notes for work in progress. I’m currently working on a mystery/memoir in comic strip form, run workshops and am the Curator of a Museum of Dust.

Character idea and one of my 3 minute comic strips

Travel notes while exploring in Gloucestershire

Notes made while waiting results at Moorfields Eye Hospital

Sally Poyton

I tend to do several versions of the same drawing so I can pick the best, and to prevent the image being too perfected, and therefore hopefully retaining some of the energy of an initial drawing. I then pick the best and either photograph it or scan in in to the PC and transfer it on the iPad. Once it’s on the iPad I use the ‘Sketchpad App’ (which I believe is free to download) to tidy up the image, and to bring to life with colour by building up layers. I usually start with the blush in the face of the person of animal, and then build up the face colour on top, so to bring depth to the image. I will the work on background on another layer – or a totally independent image and then amalgamate the images in Photoshop on the PC.

Mammoth Studies - All my work starts as doodles, usually on random scraps of paper that are lying around the house, like envelopes etc. (I have been told off many times for doodling over official documents) or napkins if I’m out at a café. I then tend to develop these by playing with them in a sketchpad, and perfecting by using images from books, the internet of photographs I have taken to really try and capture the image in my mind. This is a page of studies in pencil and brush pen, of me developing the look of mammoth calves.

Studies Ransom Tusk - 
On this page I have been exploring designs for my antagonist, using keys words, and initial doodles and concepts. (If you look carefully you’ll see one of the loose studies is drawn on our extension plans!) I also take the opportunity to try and work out trickier elements of the character, like drawing convincing hands, or hair styles.  Before going on to work in the colour on the iPad.

Studies to digital finished piece - I tend to do several versions of the same drawing so I can pick the best, and to prevent the image being too perfected, and therefore hopefully retaining some of the energy of an initial drawing.

This view over the crowd at the Dover Ferry terminal during border delays on the way to France recently helped time go fast.The more I drew the more I saw - from small kids doing a craft session, older ones immobilised by their mobiles and a family scoffing burgers. (Done with a very fine Tomboy calligraphy pen I ordered from Cult Pens.I added some quick watercolour ink colour later.)

At the beach I started drawing a family by the lake but then I was distracted by an acrobatic dog.
I ended up filming the dog and finished the sketches later.

Nora Racz

These are roughs that I made for Words & Pictures' Family Day representation series.

Shannon Ell

Pete Olczyk

These quick colour roughs are part of a work in progress for the book cover of one of my projects. The brief was to capture two people sat enjoying a moment together, near a cabin, near trees, near a lake. I find it’s good to go straight to colour sometimes. The clients ended up deciding on a different colour rough and composition from the 12 or so that I sent them. I might develop these quick sketches as fun little personal pieces when I have a little more time. It was nice to have the freedom to work so quickly and intuitively.

My work is currently digital (mostly) and the work here is for a book for a mental health charity for children who are just exploring what emotions and feelings are and how we can deal with them in different ways.

This is Iulia. This is a character sketch where I get to know my character, find out their personalities and what they like and dislike. I find my inspiration for characters by people watching in a coffee shop and letting the world pass me by… who doesn’t love people watching when there is cake and coffee involved too!

I then develop my character in to a scene to work how how their personality fits within a group. This scene is part of an adventure where working together has made the characters happy and feel supported.

It then comes together as part of a (almost) final page before the text is then added and adjustments made.

Character studies for a pitch, and a little mermaid sketch I did for a “how to draw” video.

Concept art studies for a MG fantasy pitch.

Suburban setting pencils, made with the help of a light-box.

These are developments from ‘Lucas Twigg’s truly terrible luck’, which is in shops from Friday 13th May.

These are early character development drawings of how Lucas might look. Unusually, I was working
with a pencil and paper – I normally work straight onto screen these days.

These roughs are now getting pretty close to how Lucas will finally look – a little cuter and less goofy.

This is a rough for the first spread of the book and pretty close to how the final image looks. Lucas has changed a little since this was drawn and the cats went through far more versions – personally, I’m more of a dog person.
The finished illustrations are all created digitally using illustrator with a dusting of photoshop.

All three of these are working drawings for my current WIP which is a slightly unorthodox picture book project. It's a thoughtful story of a boy's attempts to coax his father out of bed and aims to open up conversations within families about mental health. It's written by my talented friend Ross Mackay whose background is in theatre - I'm noticing once again how close these two art forms really are. I'm loving the opportunity to draw all these little moments of connection within the family and to make the poses and faces play out correctly.

I recently spent a couple of weeks in Italy and, on a rainy day, my family and I ended up in Cattolica's aquarium and reptile house. I used this chance to digitally sketch a few of the animals and have some fun trying to capture their personalities, sometimes taking more creative liberties than others.

Indian ink sketch of Lao Tzu’s initial meeting with Yinxi for a project based on the 'Tao Te Ching’ -
part of a series of books to introduce children to teachings from other cultures.

Initial character sketches for a recent ‘Jungle explorer’ commission, I’ve been wanting to illustrate an Elephant based story for ages (my daughter’s favourite animal). Scheduled for release later this year.

Some ’spare’ characters and scenes from some ideas swimming around in my brain
('The DIY Faery’ being one of my favourites)

Nicky Boo

These are sketches from my pocket sketchbook drawn on the train home, crossing the fens from the Midlands to East Anglia last week. It was the first time I’ve been on a train, or travelled anywhere in fact, for many, many months, so I was looking forward to drawing some fellow passengers. Unfortunately, there was hardly anyone near me on the train, so instead I made a few lightning doodles out of the window as the landscape rushed past.

Trees at Ely station - drawn from the platform as I waited between train changes.

This is a page from my working studio sketchbook, some initial doodles for an idea I’ve
been playing with for a while, a story of artistic mustelids!

Penny Taylor

Cabbi Charles

                    This is a work in progress for a book idea. The scene was drawn from a friend’s 4th floor flat.

I practice loosening up my lines with ink and watercolour. Used digital tools to repeat
the car and enhance colours.

Willow Findlay

I’m primarily a digital artist but I end up using sketch books and analogue media as a way to play, come up with exercises and generate ideas.

This is a character design exercise where you make up characters
and fit them into a pre-drawn shape.

A character study on the theme of wild fancy dress for kids.

Drawing killer whales and playing with colour and crayons for a personal project.

Eileen Thorogood

The Ice Cream Man (For a picture book written in Verse.)

                                           Playing Doctors and Nurses (For a storybook entitled Grandma's Games)

Freddie Finds the Key (The moment in a storybook entitled
Freddie's Story where he has the chance to escape.)

Dawn Machell

These are some pages from my sketchbook. I use it every day, just for ideas and doodles that come to me as I’m working - or drawing whilst watching tv on an evening. The stuff I draw is often recreated digitally in Adobe Illustrator and becomes a post on my instagram. It’s personal work that I absolutely love to do, never usually with an end purpose in mind.

Wow! A round of applause and a huge thank you to all illustrators who contributed with their work! Open Sketchbooks is an ongoing selection, so if you are an SCBWI illustrator member and would like to share your work please get in touch! We love to see observational drawings, book projects, character development, doodles and imaginative experiments. We want to see what you're up to! Digital media is most welcome too. Just email me at

If you are on Instagram and would like me to check out your work for features and commissions follow and tag me @titaberredo

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


1 comment:

  1. That's a great collection and selection of creativity Tita, enjoyed looking through these.


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