Treading lightly illustration

Sketchbook project 2017

What it’s about

The Sketchbook Project is an initiative begun by the Brooklyn Art Library in New York. After forking out some dollars, the library sends a slim A5 book, which you illustrate in whatever way floats your proverbial boat, before posting it back by the due date.

It can be scanned so anyone can view it online (more $$) and all books are stored in the permanent collection at the library. The scanning isn’t done very well but it’s nice to have an online record.

The process

After selecting a topic from the list provided, you’re free to draw, write, illustrate, paint, paste in whatever you like.

This year, Denise chose the topic “Long Stories Short”. She decided to add in a heading and a few quick sentences that could be expanded to a much longer story. It was challenging but fun keeping the wording to an absolute minimum, and letting the illustration provide additional detail.

Having learned from the previous year that water on the pages equated to disaster, watercolour paper was used for the entire book and a better adhesive was used to hold the pages.

Template of books illustration
Double page spread from the sketchbook


Future changes if one was to do this again:

  • hand calligraphy excluded unless lots of practise is done
  • use very thin paper
  • use coloured pencils or non-water based tools, because watercolour and pasting in thicker paper causes issues with the sketchbook staying together
Lizard larrikins sketch and watercolour
Ignore the calligraphy – it isn’t the finest …
Pleasures of the deep – sea creatures are a favourite subject

And despite the awful scanning done by the library, here’s the sketchbook in its entirety –