SCBWI BI CONFERENCE 2022 Sketchbook Exhibition

Illustration Editor Tita Berredo is part of the conference graphics team and shares the best tips to choose what to submit for the conference's Sketchbook Exhibition.
Hurry up, there's still time!

Whether you are producing a new piece or choosing the best of a bunch, there are a few things to consider when you are submitting your artwork to any exhibition, even a sketchbook's one.

To the illustrator, the sketchbook is a place where the hand can run freely, like a child in a playground, learning from new experiments, practicing, and exploring different materials. For that reason, more than rendered or finished artwork, a sketchbook should show what one can do at one's most experimental self - may it be rough or crude.

For the Sketchbook Exhibition, the conference team is looking for sketches that fall under three categories: 

Character development 

This can be people, especially children, in a variety of poses and different facial expressions. It can also be any kind of creature, animal, or anthropomorphised character.

Tip: Depicting movement is a nice way to show how you capture actions and body language. Sequential images are also good to show how you handle consistency over spreads.

Book cover development

Illustrations intended for book covers that may play with lettering, patterns, presence or absence of background, etc.

Tip: Think of the book's format, exploring landscape or vertical. Which colours would you choose for this particular cover and why? Think of which characters from the story you choose to feature or to hide, and what is relevant to the story without giving any spoilers.

World building

This can be a variety of settings and scenery like a town, a forest, or a house interior. It can also feature objects, magical artefacts, costumes, places, etc.

Tip: It's always nice to see that the illustrator can think through a colour palette - how to give a sense of atmosphere or how to portray passing time and seasons.

Use a mix of imaginative and observational drawing, mark making, mixed media, collage, lettering, black-and-white work as well as colour - whatever you like! Since the idea is to see the sketchbook spread open, you can also feel free to play with formats to use the space on the pages. Full bleed, spots, different frames, can make your sketchbook look quite visually interesting. You may choose to avoid the gutter, go across it, or even use it as a feature. 

Tita's sketchbooks

Keep in mind this is a SCBWI exhibition, so many people from the publishing industry will be able to see your work. It may be rough but it still needs to be eye-catching. If you have a book or even a portfolio, it might be interesting to show the behind the scenes of one of your rendered illustrations. The point is really to show that not only you have creative experiments but also a good eye to pick what might interest others. Think of it as an illustrated business card, this is a piece of work that is on show to agents, publishers, authors, and other illustrators in the conference, and they should be teased by it - they might want to contact you about your work!

Now, let's go through some of the technicalities of digitising your artwork for submission:


No need to pay for professional scanning! You can achieve high quality images with a basic flatbed photo scanner. Read good tips on how to scan your artwork in this Words&Pictures article.

Adjust colours and contrast with the help of this Words&Pictures article

Work on digital corrections with the help of this Words&Pictures article.


If you decide to photograph your sketchbook you can take a good picture by handling your camera from above, parallel to your open sketchbooks, using natural light (avoid shadows). If you don't have a camera, you can easily do it on your smartphone. There are tips on how to shoot and edit your artwork using your phone in this Words&Pictures article.

Digital work

If you work digitally, you are pretty much sorted out. Simply export your artwork as a jpg file. Just remember that we want to see sketches, which means unfinished work.

Get inspired by some examples of traditional and digital media from this year's Open Sketchbooks Part 1 and Part 2.


You may submit up to three JPG scans of your own sketchbook spreads or worksheets under any of the category headings: character development, book cover development, and world building.

The resolution should be 300ppi at actual sketchbook size. Those chosen will be enlarged to A3 prints.

Name the JPG file with your full name and short title. 
For example: Name Surname-bear character studies #1.jpg

Include your full name, website/social media handles, and contact details in the body of the email. 

The conference team will select the cream of the crop to create an illustration wall of sketchbook work to be displayed in the MMU Business School throughout the weekend’s conference. Note that by sending your scans you are agreeing to SCBWI printing your work to be exhibited at this year’s conference.

The deadline is Monday, 10th October.

Best of luck!

*All images ©Tita Berredo


Tita Berredo is the Illustration Features Editor for 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.

Instagram @titaberredo

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