Monday, September 13, 2021

Summer sketchbook spreads - Part One


Sketchbook pages from this summer, mostly London, but a few from a day out to Canterbury too. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Sketching London in early Summer

A glance through my sketchbooks, with drawings from April to June in 2021. Bit of a mixed bag!


Monday, April 19, 2021

Sketching London in the Spring

Sketchbook spreads from the past few weeks, as the Lockdown regulations have been eased and I have been able to travel into London. It’s lovely to get back outside and draw again, even if the weather is still a little chilly. 

Drawn in a Stillman and Birn Beta series sketchbook.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

My illustration process - Frequently Asked Questions

What materials do you use?


Here’s a list of what is currently in my pencil case:

Tikky pens from Rotring in different nib widths, pencils, white gel pens and a brush pen.

Sketchbooks from Stillman and Birn, Moleskine and Laloran are all favourites. 

Colours in my watercolour tin:

  • Winsor Lemon (W&N)
  • Naples Yellow (W&N)
  • Indian Yellow (W&N)
  • Opera Rose (W&N)
  • Cobalt violet (W&N)
  • Buff Titanium (DS)
  • Goethite (DS)
  • Indian Red (DS)
  • Vandyke Brown (W&N)
  • Neutral Tint (W&N)
  • Terre Verte (W&N)
  • Oxide if Chromuim (W&N)
  • Hookers Green (W&N)
  • Olive Green (W&N)
  • Permanent Sap Green (W&N)
  • Perelyne Green (W&N)
  • Cerulean Blue (DS)
  • Cobalt Turquoise Light (W&N)
  • Cobalt Blue (W&N)
  • Veridian (W&N)
  • French Ultramarine (W&N)
  • Lunar Blue (DS)

W&N = Winsor and Newton

DS = Daniel Smith


How much do you charge?


Fees for illustration work are calculated by offering a licence based on the usage (i.e. packaging, editorial, billboard poster etc.) the locations where it will be used (i.e. locally, in the whole of the UK, all over Europe etc.) and how long the image will be used for. I am a member of the Association of Illustrators and use their standard ‘Acceptance of Commission’ form when taking on a job. Please get in touch by email if you require more information on this topic.


How long does it take to do an illustration?


It depends! I have produced work to a very tight deadline but usually this is the process:

  • Receive the full brief from the client including the number of illustrations, their dimensions, and any particular colour palette to be used.
  • Confirm details in my 'Acceptance of Commission' form, including the length of licence and usage.
  • Gather reference material of the required illustrations.
  • Supply black and white line roughs for the client's approval.
  • Make up to two rounds of amendments and changes at this stage.
  • Supply the colour artwork in a high-resolution digital files to the client's specified format and submit the invoice. Payment within 30 days.
  • I can also supply the client with the actual artwork although the copyright would remain with me.


How do I commission you?


I would love to hear about your project! Just drop me an email with the details of what you require or fill in the contact page on my website. I aim to reply to all enquires within 48 hours during the working week. If you prefer, we can also arrange a call to talk things through further.


Do you sell prints and cards of your work?


I have an online Etsy shop where I sell prints.


Who produces your prints?


My prints are produced by the lovely team at Just Giclée. I heartily recommend them as they will do small numbers and they are high quality. Images can be printed from A4 up to A1 size.


Do you sell the drawings in your sketchbooks?


My sketchbooks are very precious to me and I don’t sell them. I can make prints of images in them so please get in contact if you have seen something you would like a print of.


Can I buy original drawings from you?


I have a gallery page on Saatchi Art where you can buy original sketches and watercolours.


Do you work for free?


Being an illustrator is my job and the way that I earn my living. My clients realise that they can get a lot of value from the hand-drawn images I produce, so no, I don’t. Very occasionally I will donate a piece of work to a cause that I support but this is the exception not the rule.


I’ve written a book. Can you illustrate it?


Publishers choose the illustrator that they want to illustrate a book so most likely, no. There is a very good article on this subject by Sarah McIntyre  It is well worth reading for any budding authors.


Can I use your image for ...?


As a British artist, I automatically own the copyright to all the work I produce. Very occasionally I will allow an individual or organisation to use images for a non-profit purpose, but you MUST get written permission from me before doing so.


Do you licence your work?


Yes, when I create new illustrations for a client it is done on the basis of offering them a licence to use the image for a set amount of time, in a set geographical area and for a set usage.


I also have a large archive of work which is available to licence so please get in touch if you are looking for a specific image. I may be able to help!



Do you teach classes or workshops?


I haven’t anything booked in at the moment (March 2021) but it is something I am interested in doing more of in the future. I gave two workshops at the USk Switzerland Symposium in 2020, gave a series of Urban Sketching sessions to groups of interior design students from the London Metropolitan University in 2019 and demonstrated my drawing process in Lisbon in 2017. I also gave a talk about the Urban Sketcher community at the Society of Graphic Fine ArtistsAGM in 2020 and have been filmed sketching for a promotional video for Winsor and Newton.
There are also some free downloadableworksheets available on my blog.

Monday, February 15, 2021

'Big shapes and line detail' workshop


I’m sharing the details of the workshop which I gave at the USk Switzerland Symposium* last year. The venue was a picture-perfect village called Zuoz, high in the Alps and I was very privileged to be invited. I hope you enjoy following the exercises and would love to see your results so please tag me if you post on social media - I am @lineandwash on Instagram and Twitter – and at the end of this post there is a link to a FREE A3 downloadable worksheet.

* Just to let you know that the workshops, opening and closing receptions were all held outside and complied with the Swiss COVID regulations at the time.

In this workshop, I hope to explain and share the methods that I use when drawing on location. In the spirit of ‘less is more’ I hope to encourage you to make each mark count by making them accurately and economically. As I strongly believe that there is no particular right or wrong way to draw, the aim of this workshop is to offer you a chance to acquire new techniques that they could be useful in the future.

Materials you will need:

Ideally it would be great if you can do these exercises from life outside but a view from a window would be fine too. I’ve also included some of my photographs to use as reference if that is easier for you.


Often when I sketch, the view in front of me can be busy and complicated and knowing where to start can seem daunting. Starting boldly with big watercolour shapes helps lay the foundations for a successful piece.

Choose five things in your view that you can paint as shapes, then spend about two minutes on each. 

Let the watercolour dry then spend another two minutes each adding some line work to show more of the scene.

Here are some of my photographs from the trip to use as inspiration:

Exercise Two - LEAVE IT OUT!

In my own sketches, I tend to leave a lot of white space on the page, which I find helps contribute to the final image. Often referred to as ‘negative space.’ I prefer to call it ‘positive space!’ It can be a useful technique when you want to focus on a particular area when drawing a busy scene. Here are some examples of how I have used this technique personally.

Choose a view that has something in the way, a lamppost, a car or lorry, a tree etc and see if you can draw the scene without actually drawing the thing that is in the way. Spend 15 - 20 minutes on the sketch.

Here are some of my photographs from the trip to use as inspiration:


Fineliners and white gel pens are great for adding decoration and detail to drawings, either on the plain paper or over watercolour washes.

Choose a something that has a lot of detail (a piece of architecture or a plant maybe) and spend 15 - 20 minutes just concentrating on drawing the patterns and shapes.

Here are some of my photographs from the trip to use as inspiration:


Choose a view that you’d like to spend 30 - 40 minutes drawing and try to use all the techniques we have talked about to make the drawing. A few things to remember:

  • Watercolour dries lighter, so be bold when you start.
  • If it helps, use a pencil to quickly draw your shape before painting.
  • Allowing watercolour shapes to dry will mean crisp edges for the next layer of watercolour or fineliner.
  • There are no mistakes, just happy accidents!
  • Enjoy and have fun!

I would love to see what you create so please share on social media, tagging me and using the hashtag #liswatkinsworkshop

I've compiled a FREE downloadable A3 worksheet with the main points of the workshop. Download it here and use the instructions below to cut and fold.