I’m Hannah, and I’ve drawn the pictures for three Barrington Stoke Little Gems. Today I’m going to show you where I like to work, and how I make illustrations.
I live in a sunny flat in south London with my boyfriend Paul, who is also an illustrator. We share a studio in our flat – Paul’s desk is on one side and mine is on the other. We meet in the middle for snacks, or to have little dance if we’ve been sitting down for too long.
My illustration style can be quite varied. So I keep my desk simple, so that there’s space when I need to work on a computer, or draw in a sketchbook, or cut shapes out of paper. Though I always have a few bits and bobs around to inspire me, or remind me of the people I love.
When I’m working on a book, I’ll start by developing the characters in the story. I’ll try to get to know them by drawing them doing lots of different things. Then I work with the team at Barrington Stoke to decide what sort of illustration would make a good cover – it’s usually an image that introduces us to the main people in the story, and makes us feel intrigued about what they might get up to.
After that, I work on the pictures inside the book. I draw in my sketchbook and on tracing paper, and then I scan those drawings so that I can work with them on the computer. The final pictures you see are made up of lots of layers: drawings, colours, textures and sometimes words as well.
When I’m working on other illustration projects, I might use a different approach. One thing I like to do is cut shapes out of paper, then play around with them on the computer – a sort of digital collage. I like making things by hand, but I also like the happy accidents that come from working on a computer. I also love painting, especially outdoors in the Scottish countryside… so sometimes, where I work is a windy beach or a quiet forest. I bring back little reminders of the places I’ve been to add to our nature table. Pepé Lizard keeps an eye on everything there.
When I feel a bit stuck on a project, I have a few tricks to stop me worrying too much. One trick is to make a card for a friend or someone in my family. This reminds me to have fun and experiment. I made these bears for my dad, and I once made some funny snails for Paul.
Another trick is to try a new technique and see where that takes me. I’ve recently been experimenting with laser-cutting, screen-printing and badge-making!
Thanks for visiting my studio today!
No Hannah, thank you for showing it to us! You can see more of Hannah Coulson’s works in progress on her website or her Instagram @hannah_coulson.
And if you’re curious about Hannah’s lovely Little Gems, you can find more information about the titles here: