Words & Pictures' Illustration Feature Editor, Tita Berredo, presents the Autumnal issue of SCBWI Illustrators' Sketchbooks. Enjoy looking along the lines of their pencils, pens, and digital brushes.

It is a privilege to see SCBWI member illustrators opening their sketchbooks for us to have a glimpse of the hard and thorough work behind the scenes of a rendered image. It was, once again, a delightful selection.

You may see some of these being featured at the Sketchbook Exhibition this weekend if you are in Manchester. They'll be "finding their power" at the SCBWI BI Annual Conference. How exciting! 

(To know more about the artists, simply click on their names to go to their website.)

My sketchbooks are like a visual conversation/diary – I write little notes to myself to help draw out the character and find what I'm looking for!

B&W ink character development/studies of a bee (Credit: Emma Armitage) 

colour (gouache, pencil, ink) development studies for a capybara/bear like character (Credit: Emma Armitage)

Three images from my Antarctic sketchbook. I was lucky enough to spend five weeks on board icebreaker HMS Protector last winter, sketching amongst the penguins whilst on an artist's residency.

Approaching South Georgia – quick sketch from the deck at dawn (map added later!) (Credit: Claudia Myatt)

Visit to British Antarctic Survey base at Signy island in the South Orkneys – no-one at home, but I had an hour on shore with my sketchbook. Much of the detail added later – very difficult to get the paint to dry on location! (Credit: Claudia Myatt)

A couple of pages from a day at sea – much concentration on the Bridge as we crunch through the ice, short spells of sketching out on deck before running back into the warm! (Credit: Claudia Myatt)

I’ve recently started the picture book course with The Good Ship Illustration and very much enjoying it.


The shells are quick sketches, I’m a bit of a water baby and all things "ocean" inspire me, I’d love to work on something nonfiction and nature related, so want to develop this more too. (Credit: Emma Graham)

Here is a new character – little witch, for which I’ve written a story and look forward to working on her more. (Credit Emma Graham)

More character sketches for the little witch. (Credit Emma Graham)

Pigeon Sketches – this is for my story Pedro and the Pigeon and, you guessed it, the pigeon is one of the main characters. I started off drawing realistic pigeons to get used to their anatomy, then began stylising to find the right type of character pigeon.

Pigeon sketches and character development (Credit: Naomi Blayney)

Scene Development – for my story Pedro and the Pigeon, this is the development of the first spread where Pedro is sat alone at his window. I wanted the scene to show him by himself, looking lonely, with scenery that is Spanish. I looked at types of Spanish windows and trees, etc, to make the scene more accurate. (Credit: Naomi Blayney)

Scene Development – for my story The Flute, about a girl who is bullied at school. This scene shows where some of the children aren't very nice to her, she sits alone at the far end of the table feeling the group at the other end looking at her, talking about her and laughing at her. This was personal to me as this was me at school. (Credit: Naomi Blayney)

This has been a really positive year for me, with many new important episodes for my career. One of them is being part of the SCBWI BI Conference committee, and even hosting the illustration fringe event there on my first visit to Manchester. So I thought it would be appropriate to share these spreads that are being featured at the Conference's Sketchbook Exhibition. 

I followed the Conference's theme: "Finding Your Power".  My favourite media are liquid watercolour and Chinese/India ink, and I absolutely love Japanese brushes. I feel powerful with this combination, drawing movement and characters having fun! 

There are so many foxes around my house, and I love how sneaky they can be. Their ears can be so expressive. (Credit: Tita Berredo)
This is an extract from a wordless picture book that I am working on at the moment. I have a big sketchbook for character development and usually like to try sequential illustrations across the spreads. (Credit: Tita Berredo)

Sometimes I like to work on expressive mark-making and see where it takes me. In this case, I made a few random brush strokes across the page and then made it into an illustration by adding a wee character. (Credit: Tita Berredo)

Sketch of a busy market (Credit: Natelle Quek)

Sketch of children discovering a trail of thieving ants (Credit: Natelle Quek)

An array of animals and children riding on the back of a dragon (Credit: Nora Racz)

A witch tempting a mermaid with an apple (Credit: Nora Racz)

A girl with exceptionally long hair dancing on a lily pad (Credit: Nora Racz)

I've recently moved from Australia to England, so my sketchbooks are a picture of both countries this year. Some are on site research drawings in the Queensland Daintree Rainforest for my new picture book with Walker Books, and some are me trying out tiny thumbnail page compositions. Some are me exploring my new home of Cambridge, some are me just seeing and recording things I find interesting.

Photograph of thumbnail sketches of Daintree Rainforest (Credit: Liz Anelli)

Photograph of sketchbook image showing Botanical Gardens in Cambridge (Credit: Liz Anelli)

Photograph of sketchbook image showing a riverside scene (Credit: Liz Anelli)

Character sketches of a little girl (Credit: Tonka Uzu)

More character sketches of little girl, plus mother (Credit: Tonka Uzu)

Character sketches of different children and a parent (Credit: Tonka Uzu)

These are sketches for a picture book I’m developing about a little wolf, not like any other wolf…

Little wolf running through the forest (Credit: Chantal Bourgonje)

Little wolf hiding behind a tree (Credit: Chantal Bourgonje)

Little wolf looking at flowers in the forest (Credit: Chantal Bourgonje)

I've just had a baby, so my sketchbook is currently a diary of my strange "underslept" life. Here is:
My first trip outside with the baby, involving dodging construction vehicles and a trip to the local market (Credit: Imogen Foxell)

 The baby's first bath (Credit: Imogen Foxell)

A busy day of weird dreams, laundry, and the bake off (Credit: Imogen Foxell)

John Shelley

The first two are animal studies from my desk sketchbook. I’ve been working on some picture book ideas with animal characters recently, these are some of the initial character pencil workings for a couple of dummies, just getting a feel for anatomy and approach. The last one is a pen scribble from my little pocket sketchbook, doodling on a train journey. 

Character sketch of weasels (Credit: John Shelley)

Character sketches of lion, child, cat, elephant and pigs (Credit: John Shelley)

Sketch of imaginary buildings (Credit: John Shelley)

David Hutchinson

Here are a few sketches of robot dogs. The first two sketches were done for my book Bog Dog  (Seordag Stories, book 14). The last one is a sketch of the Highland games, a sketch for the book I'm working on now, Oighrig's Rose (Seordag Stories, book 16). I've got an exhibition on at the moment, Lovehearts Part 1, that includes lots of paintings of the Seordag (the robot hen) at Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh.

Sketch of robot dog in the washtub (Credit: David Hutchinson)

Sketch of robot dog being dried (Credit: David Hutchinson)

Sketch of a tug-o-war (Credit: David Hutchinson)

Here are three images from the pages of my sketchbook for SCBWI "Open Sketchbooks".

This is the study of a girl for a chapter book/lower MG idea. I was looking at the same girl at different ages in her life. (Credit: Elicia Samuels)

This is the study of other characters for the same chapter book/lower MG idea – the main character’s friends/neighbours, who are a brother and sister, and the main character’s brothers. (Credit: Elicia Samuels)

This is part of a study looking at squirrels for a picture book idea. Looking at the variety of squirrels and comparing the outer body to a basic skeleton. (Credit: Elicia Samuels)

Sketch of horses (Credit: Penny Taylor)

Coloured sketch of musicians playing in a bar (Credit: Penny Taylor)

Sketch of Todmorden Market (Credit: Penny Taylor)

That's all folks! A huge thank you to all the brilliant illustrators who have sent us their work! 

Some of these illustrators are SCBWI volunteers, producing amazing illustrations for articles featured in Words & Pictures, and you can be one too!

If you want your sketches and illustrations to be featured in our articles, please email us at

* 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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