Hand Drawn Illustration Techniques

Hand Drawn Illustration Techniques & Resources

“By using a combination of coloured pencil and watercolour ink, Amanda has developed a technique which allows her to produce illustrations that are brimming with colour and decorations, and she is now further extending her skills as an illustrator by adding other media.”

Chris Beetles Gallery, St James’, London


See Amanda’s illustration resources and videos below for hand drawn illustration techniques for children’s books. Three now, more planned.
You can find more illustration resources on Amanda’s Interviews & Blogs page.

Hand Drawn Illustration Techniques. Photography Clare Sinclair

Starting work on a new book commission


Illustrating a new book always begins with reading and understanding the story. Once I hear from the publisher how many pages or “spreads” the book will have, I can plot out where the text will appear on each spread. That gives me a framework to decide how my illustrations – double-page, single or vignette illustrations, whichever I choose – will respond to the text on each page.

My job is to depict the author’s story. Through my visual story-telling, I contribute my own creativity and ideas to the book – adding to the richness of the story is one of the great joys of being an illustrator.


The rough visual stage for a new book


My initial visual ideas often happen in a great rush once I have thought about a story. It’s really good when that happens, when the images travel straight from my imagination, through my hand and pencil and out into my sketchbook – almost too quickly to capture, like catching live fish!

Then I edit and refine these energetic ideas, again using hand drawn illustration techniques. I use pencil and layout paper, which makes it possible to overlay and develop earlier versions of my designs.

Finally, when the rough drawings are as I want them to be, I scan them and email them to the publisher for feedback.

Hand Drawn Illustration Techniques. Photography Clare Sinclair
Illustration Methods. Photography Clare Sinclair

Final artwork stage for a new book


Once the publisher is happy with my rough visuals, I begin the final artwork.

I place watercolour paper over my finished rough drawing on my light box and carefully redraw it in pencil lines. I immerse this new drawing briefly in water, then “stretch” it onto a board.

Once the paper has dried, I use watercolour inks to build up the image. When it is dry again and I’m happy with it, I rub out all my pencil lines.

Finally, I use either pencil crayons, pastels, gouache or acrylic paints – or all of those – to build up layers of colour.

Each illustration can take up to three weeks to complete.

The Commission – Hand drawn Illustration Techniques for Childrens Books Amanda Hall

Storyboard to Book Dummy – Hand drawn Illustration Techniques for Childrens Books Amanda Hall 

Artwork Preparation – ​Hand drawn Illustration Techniques for Childrens Books Amanda Hall