Inside my Studio: equipment I use for illustration


Over the past few years since I started illustrating, I’ve tried loads of different tools and materials. Some of them were rubbish, some good, and whilst I’m definitely still open to exploring new things, I’m fairly happy with my current set up. It does the job. So I thought I’d share with you what my studio space looks like right now, and the equipment I have around me every day.

*My studio is no glamorous film set – as you can see from the photos, it’s a very normal box room in my house. It’s messy, tiny, and doesn’t have the best light. It’s not easy to take fancy photos in there. I wanted to show you the truth, because it can be easy to envy artists on the internet with their spacious, bright, photogenic studios. But your workspace doesn’t have to be pristine to be functional, and I feel extremely grateful to have a dedicated room to work in at all. That said, I really do need to keep it tidier…


This is my old, leather-topped desk. I’m standing in the doorway to take this photo, the door just about opens fully if I don’t pull my chair out too far.

On my desk I have two lamps, one is an old anglepoise with a 20W daylight bulb fitted, the other is a my latest purchase, an led Duolamp from the Daylight Company. Both of these cast neutral light that allows me to paint at night and on dull days – pretty essential in England! You can also see my light pad, an A3 MiniSun which I use most days to trace over sketches.


I thought you might be interested in the materials I use most frequently for my illustration. In this photo you can see:

  • Paints – I mostly use Windsor & Newton Cotman watercolours in pans and tubes. They’re technically the student range. I find they’re perfectly good for me, though I would like to experiment with some fancier ones at some point. I also use a bit of gouache, again I use Windsor & Newton.
  • Ceramic palettes – I love how these stack neatly, and are easy to clean
  • Brushes – I have a small selection, but I mostly use this Cotman brush, a 00 Ken Bromley brush and a couple of old fat unbranded ones. I could do with upgrading soon.
  • Coloured Pencils: I have a few, but these are my current favourite, Caran D’ache Luminescence pencils. I don’t have many as they’re expensive, but I’m building my collection slowly.
  • Pencils – I get through so many pencils! 4B is my absolute favourite, though I also use 2B and sometimes use a mechanical pencil with 2B lead for sketching.
  • Watercolour Paper – For my book illustrations I use Hot Pressed paper, which I usually stretch before using. I like experimenting with different brands, some of my favourites are Arches, Fabriano and Bockingford (which is the cheapest good paper I’ve found).

I hope this post has been useful, I find that artists don’t often explain what materials they use and I remember being a bit clueless when I started out! It’s taken a few years of experimenting to find the tools I’m comfortable with, and I still think that’s the best way, but if you’re feeling a bit lost, I hope this gives you somewhere to start.



Most Popular Instagram Posts of 2017


It’s a busy old time of year, isn’t it? On top of my usual projects (the childrens poetry book I’m illustrating, the promotional material for events I organise, the other stuff for the events I organise, creating work for my Etsy shop and general portfolio work) I have been renovating my kitchen and making Christmas presents. Phew! I’m actually looking at ways I can streamline things next year to save energy for the most important stuff, and reorganising my schedule, but that’s for another time.

As we approach the end of the year, I noticed an increasing number of Best Nine posts popping up all over my social media. In case you haven’t heard of it, this is a way to generate your nine most liked posts of the year over on Instagram. My account there is still small, but it’s growing, and I was curious to see what my Best Nine would be. Here’s the answer:


Look at Gertie there, with pride of place in the centre! It’s nice to see an Inktober post there too, considering all the effort I went to that month. But it’s also interesting to see several incredibly simple, quick illustrations made it. Little doodles that I made spontaneously after an idea popped into my head. Whilst this collection isn’t necessarily my own favourite selection, I think it’s very interesting, and useful.

Why not grab of cup of tea and spend a few minutes searching for #bestnine or #bestnine2017 over on Instagram and Twitter? It’s a great way to be introduced quickly to a host of new artist accounts!

Making my Very First Gif


Yesterday after coming home to an enthusiastic greeting from Gertie, I sat down for a cup of tea and decided to do a quick doodle of her.

gertie sketch

Then later on in the evening, I was suddenly struck with inspiration! Maybe this was the opportunity to finally, FINALLY, make a gif! I’ve long admired other illustrator folk’s ability to make little animations but it always seemed baffling to me. Yet last night, I was just in the mood for a challenge, so I thought I’d give it a go. Turns out it’s actually quite simple! First, I scanned in the sketch, and added a bit of colour in photoshop:

happy gertie

Then I had a google for making animated gifs in photoshop, and came across this one¬†which seemed quite straight forward. I thought I would keep things very simple for my first time, so I just made a new image with Gertie’s tail slightly different, and used the tutorial to animate the two images. This was the result:


It’s just about as simple as a gif can be, with only two frames, but oh, it makes me so happy! And now I’ve taken the plunge, I’m sure it won’t be long before I have a go at something a bit more challenging. But for now, just look at that Happy Tail!

Changing my logo (again!)


If you’ve been here before, hopefully you’ll have noticed a change in my header image – there are puppies now! One evening last week, after taking Gertie for a romp around my local park, I drew this little page of teeny puppies:

blog puppies

And after a few minutes of thinking, I decided to draw a simple little picture of myself:

tiny sara

Then I scanned them all in, and added a little colour using photoshop:

me and gertie

And they were then ready to be used as new logos for all my various social media channels. I ended up making several different versions, for my website, etsy shop, twitter, instagram and facebook pages. Plus a new logo that will be used on stationary in the future:


I’ve changed my logo a few times over the last couple of years (I find it very hard to settle on one thing!) but this time I feel surprisingly confident. I think this new set properly reflects me and my style, as well as being eye catching, so I think I’ll be sticking with it for a while. Next job will be to pop this logo on the back of my greetings cards, next time I get some printed!

I’d love to know what you think of the new look, I hope you like it as much as me!

My Etsy Shop is Open!


At last! I’ve been intending on getting my Etsy shop open again for a really long time, but other work kept getting in the way. So I’m pleased that finally, FINALLY, it’s open again. In there right now you’ll find greetings cards and stickers, and I will be adding some prints in the next couple of days.

I hope you enjoy having a look at what’s in store!

Beautiful Colours in Lanzarote


I just got back from a lovely holiday in the Canary Isles, Lanzarote to be specific. It was quite a contrast from the Autumnal hues of the Devon countryside! As you probably know, colour is very important in my illustration, and this is something Lanzarote has lots of. From the black volcanic soil to the whitewashed buildings and exotic cacti, all the colours pop vividly on a sunny Lanzarote day. And most days in Lanzarote are sunny. So that’s a lot of popping.

Today in Devon is decidedly wintery, so it seems a good time to share a few colourful holiday snaps and remember what it felt like to be warm…








(I love that car so much!)

My final Inktober Illustrations


It’s hard to believe it’s November tomorrow already, which means Inktober 2017 has come to an end!

collage three

I’m really glad that I took part this year. I hear a lot of people saying they’d like to to do it, but lamenting that they just don’t have the time. I think for some that’s genuinely true, but for most people there can be time for things like this if you choose to make it. I know I’ve always felt reluctant to commit in previous years too, and yet despite me being busier now than ever before, I still managed to complete the challenge! It was definitely difficult at times, and I did miss a couple when I was unwell, but generally I really enjoyed it and as the month progressed the feedback I received on social media made me want to keep going.

Untitled collage

For me I think it really helped to focus on just two characters and the follow the official prompt list (mostly). It meant I had a starting point each day – if I’d just had to have come up with an original drawing every time I think I’d have given in quite quickly! It also means that I now have this lovely little collection of drawings, which I’ll keep, and who knows, maybe this pair will return in the future.

final inktober

Over all, I’m really very glad I found those few minutes a day to make my Inktober drawings, and I’d certainly encourage others to give it a go next year. Or if you can’t wait that long, why not just challenge yourself to do a new drawing every day for another month, or just a week?

You can find these Inktober drawings individually on my Instagram account by the way, along with other fun stuff. Now then…..what’s next?


Taking Photographs for my Etsy Shop


My social media has been very monotone this month, thanks to Inktober! If you look at my Instagram especially, you’ll see it’s all been (lovely but) lacking in colour. So it’s been a relief today to spend a bit of time taking photos for my Etsy shop, which I’ll be reopening very soon with a bunch of new products. It’s going to be colourful!

I haven’t edited the photos yet (so they’re looking a bit dark still), but I thought the camera roll on my phone was looking so pretty that I wanted to share it. I find it so pleasing. It’s like a lovely pastel punctuation mark in my very monotone month!


Inktober Part Two


Inktober is still going and I’m over half way through. I don’t think I’d like to do this every month, it makes time seem to pass too quickly!

Here are the next lot of illustrations.

inktober 9-12


As you can see, I discovered they look much better if I scan them! I’ve gone back and scanned the previous ones now as I’d like to keep a record of them. There could be a story in this one day…

Inktober Part One


I’ve been aware of Inktober for a long time, but in the past few years I’ve never felt I had the time or motivation to take part. This year I felt the same again, but with the realisation that I’ll probably never feel any different, I thought I’d have a go.

If you haven’t heard of it, Inktober is a social media challenge that encourages artists to make a new drawing in ink every day throughout October. If you need inspiration, there are various prompt lists, including this official one.

I hadn’t been posting much on social media for a while as I’ve been busy with long term projects, so I hoped that Inktober would give me a shove to get more active again as well as playing with ink. I’m largely using the official prompt list (unless I get really stuck) and decided to stick to the same two characters throughout the month. Here’s the first 8 days of my #Inktober, and I’ll pop back in a while to keep you updated!