Image-making with stencils

I’ve been experimenting with stencils to create lines and textures in my work recently – the image above is one outcome, and it was all done using torn paper edges and charcoal (see below). I was fascinated during the process how you can create exciting marks and textures with such a simple technique.

The process seems to work really well using a smudgy/flowing medium with bold graphic lines. So here I used charcoal, but pastels, watercolour, gouache would all work well, I think.

Canadian artist Sydney Smith is one of my favourite children’s illustrators, and he uses stencils brilliantly in his work, and it was after seeing the video below that I decided to have a go myself. Here it is:

Stencils are a popular tool in digital drawing and illustration. Drawing a simple shape and filling it with a complex texture is widely used in children’s book illustration – Jon Klassen (another Canadian illustrator) uses this technique to great effect. Here he is talking about his work to a man and a group of (distracted!) children in Melbourne; it gives an insight into his process, and how he got to this point in his career:

I’ve submitted my drawing to Double Elephant Print Workshop’s “Riddle 57” project, based on an Anglo-Saxon riddle from the Exeter Book, a World Heritage Book kept in the amazing library at Exeter Cathedral, and I was lucky enough to have a look through the book when I was studying A Level English – mind blown!!

Live Drawing Online Tonight!

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but it is so exciting!! I’m going to be live illustrating today on Instagram 3pm EST – 8pm GMT with the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, NYC!!!

Their children’s books specialist Philipp Goedicke reads classic children’s stories live on Insta every day and invites an illustrator to draw along. If you’re on Instagram take a look, either on my feed @small_world_animations or theirs @communitybookstore.

Tonight is Chapter 20 something from “Tom’s Midnight Garden”

The pictures show what I managed to draw/make in the 30 minutes or so I had. It was a lot of fun, and Philipp was so lovely to chat with! ๐Ÿ™‚

Quentin Blake Free E-Cards

One of QB’s beautiful free e-card designs

There are lots of ways to keep in touch with special people at the moment, but this one from Quentin Blake’s website is one of my favourites.

Choose from a selection of free e-cards to send to loved ones – there are rainbow designs specially created for the coronavirus lockdown, and also birthday, get well cards etc etc, all featuring Quentin Blake’s wonderful, funny drawings.

Follow the link, choose your card, then fill in your greeting and send it off to the person in your life who maybe needs a bit of cheering up at the moment! ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care everyone and look after one another โค

X Claire

Drawing tutorials with Quentin Blake

Learn to draw Willy Wonka with Quentin Blake:)

If I had to choose a favourite children’s illustrator I think it would have to be Quentin Blake – I love his drawing style, and sense of humour! He has a Youtube channel which is really worth subscribing to, to pick up some excellent drawing tips, and just for the pleasure of watching him work.

And then have a look at him draw a Hornswoggler…

Inspired? Draw your own Hornswoggler and send it to me, I’d love to see what you come up with ๐Ÿ™‚

Stay well, guys, remember to take care and look after one another!

X Claire

The Brilliant Book Trust

I’ve posted about the Book Trust’s resources earlier, but they are adding loads of great stuff to their site, including e-books and drawing tutorials with some of the best children’s illustrators.

Have a look, link below! (Ooh, that sounds like something a pirate might shout!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

And here’s a video tutorial from the Book Trust’s website by their Illustrator in Residence Ed Vere:

Stay home, stay well, have fun and learn stuff! ๐Ÿ™‚

X Claire

Polar Bears and the Northern Lights

Creative learning activity – ages 8 and up

More bears! Well, they really are very cute and interesting! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been researching polar bears for some prints and drawings I’m making, and was excited to find this resource at Polar Bears International

Here you can find out amazing facts about Polar Bears and their daily lives. And the resource they have that blew me away is Polar Bear Tracking,ย where you can actually click on a particular bear and its family and follow its route round the sea ice on Hudson Bay in Canada. Take a look!

They also have videos of the wonderful Northern Lights, including a live Northern Lights cam. See if you get lucky enough to view some live.

Check out the National Geographic website for more Polar Bear facts

Find out more about the Northern Lights here

Now over to you…

Use the Polar Bear International and National Geographic websites to find out as much as you can about Polar Bears. Write down all the things you think are most interesting about them.

Lots of artists and illustrators are inspired by Polar bears. Have a look at the gallery below for just a few examples of Polar Bear art..


Which one do you think is the most realistic? “Realistic” means like it is in real life. What is realistic about it? List the details. Which one is the least realistic? Why isn’t it realistic? What makes it look not real?

If you’re not sure, have a look at the photos of real Polar Bears below and compare them with the drawings.

Get Creative!

Have a look at the photographs above (or find some online) and choose one that you really like. Copy it using pencils and crayons. You can paint it if you like.

They are quite white, so you might think there is not a lot to draw, so make sure you draw the texture of the fur.

It’s also true that they are not pure white, they are kind of yellowy against the snow, and even a little bit pink-looking in some of the photos. (Why do you think they might look pinkish? I can’t be 100% sure, but maybe they are photographed at sunrise or sunset, and the colour of the light is reflected in their fur.) You can show this in your picture too.

Do a background too. You could maybe draw the Northern Lights as the background


There is a famous book called “Northern Lights” by Philip Pullman. It is the fantasy story of a girl called Lyra Bellacqua and her journey to the Arctic to find her friend Roger, and features a talking polar bear called Iorek Byrnison. It’s a great book, but a bit scary in places, and suitable for children age 10 and up.

Here’s a clip from the BBC adaptation of Lyra riding on Iorek’s back! – very cool but not very realistic! ๐Ÿ˜‰

That’s all for now, guys!

Take care, have fun, learn lots and stay safe! ๐Ÿ™‚


Make Your Own – Rocket Comic Book!

Make Your Own

Rocket Comic Book!


This latest downloadable make is now up on my DIY page

It’s a simple creative make for kids 7 and up, using basic, inexpensive materials. Clickย  to go to the DIY page and click on the Rocket Comic Book heading to download.

This fun make can be used to explore Science and Outer Space themes with children. Here’s a link to the NASA website to get you going!


I ran this workshop last year at a library. Here are some pics from the day – more inspiration! ๐Ÿ™‚

Animal Characters at Magic Carpet Honiton

Although weโ€™re all familiar with them, animal characters are a pretty strange idea really. Animals who dress up, eat, speak and generally behave just like humans…? Paddington is a great example, and there are so many to choose from: Mr Toad, Top Cat, Dangermouse, Roger Rabbit, the list is (almost) endless.

So during the past couple of sessions weโ€™ve been inventing our own at Magic Carpet, and then making them into little 3D cutouts, with their own โ€œenvironmentโ€.