Top 5 Tips for Aspiring Illustrators
Advice for Illustrators

Top 5 Tips for Aspiring Illustrators

What job could possibly be better than being a freelance illustrator (unless you really detest drawing for some unknown reason)? They are basically people who get paid to draw all day long (apart from when they are dealing with all the work that goes on behind the scenes like admin and marketing themselves). However on the whole, it sound great, right, don’t you agree?

As I am near the start of my “Illustrator Journey”, if you want to call it that, I have gathered together my personal top 5 tips for any aspiring illustrator. Some of them may sound a little obvious, but it can sometimes be good to have a little remainder of what to do when you are completely lost. So I now present to you tip number one!

1. Draw, Draw and Draw

Art Supplies for Illustrators
A collection of some of my go to art supplies.

Okay, I know that this one sounds a bit too obvious, but it is really very important, so we cannot ignore it. Basically, it all goes down to the rule: “practice makes perfect.” In terms of art, this rule is so true, as it allows you to evolve as an illustrator. Often it is not talent, but practice which determines whether or not a drawing turns out the way you want it to.

So the point I am getting at is just drawing something everyday or as often as you can, can contribute so much to your drawing skills. Drawing daily, doesn’t mean creating a masterpiece everyday, but just simply doing some sort of doodle sometimes is as important. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in your artwork too, because you can learn from these.

2. Be Inspired

Sketchbook Inspiration
Collecting pieces of inspiration can lead to many ideas for you and your art.

If you are drawing something everyday, then you may find it quite hard to think of something new to draw, meaning that this is where inspiration can come in handy. Inspiration is the thing that can spark any idea for your next creation. Therefore, it is vital that aside drawing, you are constantly looking around you to find ideas and motivation.

Inspiration can come from so many different sources, which work for different people. For example, a book you have just read or film that you have recently watched could give you your next big idea. Some of my favourite ways to feel inspired are to look at other illustrator’s work to see how someone else works; drawing from life and to keep a sketchbook(s), which brings me on to the next tip.

3. Keep a Sketchbook

Artist's Sketchbook
Sketchbooks I am currently using…

Sketchbooks. Probably one of the most useful tools that an illustrator can own. They allow you to experiment, explore ideas, get down your creative process and so much more. I am currently working my way through about five at once, which is a few too many, but like many others, I am always starting a new sketchbook before finishing one. I use my sketchbooks a lot (in fact one of them is actually helping me to write this blog post right now), so I really recommend them.

The best bit is that which ever sketchbook you have, you can make it your own. They come in so many different colours and sizes too (my favourite size is A5 and I am loving my sparkly pink one at the moment). Sketchbooks are also really useful for drawing whatever you like in the, because there is no pressure of anything having to look perfect!

4. Notice Your Improvement

Old Artwork
A painting by me, aged 4.

Have you ever had one of those dramatic moments where your like: “I can’t draw,” or is that just me? Sometimes you can feel like you are making zero progress with your art, so it is important to notice your improvement over the years, months and days to stay motivated. If you think back to one of your very first drawings in the early years and compare it to your most recent drawing so many years later, you are going to see so much progress there.

If you think about it, every drawing you create helps you discover something in your artistic journey, which helps you develop your art style further. So eventually when you compare drawings that are years apart, the difference you will see is astonishing, even if you don’t see it when you often look back at your more recent work.

5. Experiment

Mixed Media Art
A recent mixed media drawing I did in a different style for a change.

This last tip is mostly based around having fun with your art. For me, experimenting with different art supplies and trying new things, keeps the world of illustration a bit more exciting, as there is so much to discover. By simply trying out different things, you can keep your illustrations as interesting as ever before me. When creating art, you have to be able to enjoy the process as well as the finished product!

I hope that you have found at least one of these tips useful to you. There is so much more amazing advice for people who are looking to get started in the illustration industry, so these are just some basic starting points for you, which I hoped you enjoyed reading.


The Best Gouache Paints
Art Reviews

The Best Gouache Paints

What is the only thing in the entire world that I get most excited about aside from good food, pandas and flamingos? If you know me well you should know the answer, which is new art supplies in case you were wondering! Yes, there is nothing better than unwrapping a new pen or a set of paints and trying them out for the first time. So that leads me on to today’s topic, where I am going to be discussing (more like rambling on about) my new gouache paints and the first painting I did with them.

Caran D'Ache Gouache Colours
Testing new colours is a guilty pleasure of mine!

First Impressions

The first thing I did with my paints was test out the colours. The colours can look so different to when they are in their block of colour compared to what they look like actually on the page. These Caran d’Ache gouache paints looked very different when I did a little colour test with them, but I love a perfect excuse to do some colour swatches. Therefore, I always recommend that you “get to know” your new colours before you begin, as weird as it sounds. No one wants to be in a middle of a painting when they discover that a colour that looks suspiciously like a primary red is in fact a very bright pink, right?

Gouache Paint Exercises
Trying to work out how to control gouache with some little doodles!

Along with the colour swatches, I filled an A4 sheet of paper with little experiments and doodles with the gouache. This really allowed me to grasp the idea of what the paints were really like and was just such a fun thing to do. I had a go at all sorts of doodles from hearts and swirls to lots of lines.

Painting a Panda

Panda Pencil Sketch
Starting the illustration with a simple sketch.

As my mind was pondering about what to paint with my new paints, which is half the problem, I knew that I wanted to paint something that I am familiar with and draw quite a lot. So naturally a panda came to mind, of course! I know you are all probably sick of pandas, but I just had a feeling that these gouache paints would be able to do a furry, panda friend justice.

Gouache Painting
I absolutely loved working with the paints!

First of all I applied my first wash of paint and instantly fell in love with the way they worked their magic across the page. With my paintbrush, which came with the set, I was able to achieve a lot of texture to resemble the pandas fur, which is quite cool.

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Gouache is a medium that is like the in between point of watercolour and acrylic, I suppose. It is a water based paint like watercolour, but is opaque like acrylic. To fully put how opaque the colours really were to the test, I applied some of the white paint directly on top of the black fur. In the end, I concluded that the paint does in fact allow you to layer lighter colours over darker colours, which can come in really handy! The white gouache was also in a tube instead of a pan like the other paints, which is quite good as it is much more likely to keep the paint clean.

Panda Goauche Painting
I loved painting yet another panda!

After I had applied all of the paint, I went around the panda with a black fine liner, because I knew the gouache would hide my pen lines if I applied it at the very beginning. This meant that that my panda was good to go, after a swirl of pink colour on each of the cheeks. Have you ever used gouache before and if so what do you think? I personally cannot wait to work more with gouache in the future.

New Year's Resolutions for Creatives

The Beginning of 2018

The weekly blog posts are back everyone! We are almost a week into 2018, a brand new year, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to pick up the blog post writing thing again. I love writing them, so I am very, very excited to get back into it. Apart from last week’s blog post about Inspector Ted, I kind of took a mini break at the end of 2017, which has left me plenty of time to think of some weird and wonderful ideas to blog about.

New Year Resolutions
I hope you are having a great 2018 so far?


2017 was the year where I created this website, which meant a big update for all of my work; I taught my first character design workshop at an art holiday club and of course not forgetting the front cover for the “Inspector Ted” book that I created. Another highlight from 2017 was all of the lovely comments and likes I have received across my social media art accounts have also blown me away, so I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone! Every nice comment, it so encouraging in its own special way.

Roller Skating Panda
One of my favourite illustrations from 2017!

New Year’s Resolutions

Now, moving on to my plans and goals for this fresh year. For some reason, I always like to think of some resolutions that I can at least try to stick to as a kind of guide to motivate myself. My first goal, which shouldn’t be too much of a struggle is to read more. There is nothing better than being drawn in by the words of a book and every story you read provides so much inspiration and is a really relaxing and calming activity to do. Before I was so engrossed in art as I am now, my nose was always hidden underneath a book, but as I have become busier, the amount I have been reading has decreased. So I am going to start reading again, hopefully as much as I used to, which I am a bit too excited about (I have already been building up a list of books to read in preparation)!

Colour Organised Bookshelf
Lots of books just waiting to be read!

Another goal of mine is to get a move on with my writing. If you didn’t already know, my ultimate dream is to illustrate and write my own books. As I have always been a huge booklover through out my entire life, writing stories just seems like the right thing to do, especially with my slightly crazy imagination. This means that the plan for me is to try and write a bit of something each day and hopefully when I get into the flow of it, I won’t need a little remainder or push to begin telling my latest story idea

A New Year’s Resolution which you will hopefully be seeing a lot of is a new sketchbook challenge I am going to at least attempt to conquer. Everyday, I plan to draw an animal in my sketchbook and then on Mondays, I am going to post them all in one post, so it will sort of become “Sketchbook Monday”. I am very excited to get going with this little fun challenge and each month I will be tackling a different theme of animals to draw, so I don’t get too stuck with what animal to draw next. In case you were wondering, for January, I am going to be drawing my top 31 favourite animals!

Hannah Robinson Illustration's Sketchbook
Do you think I will be able to complete my sketchbook challenge?

So those are just a few of my resolutions for this year, which I hoped you found remotely interesting. For the rest of this month, I have a blog post planned for every Sunday, which I will continue through out the year (fingers crossed). Finally, I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!



Inspector Ted Children's Book

Inspector Ted Book

As it is now officially 2018, I am very excited to share with you a very special project that I have worked on. Towards the end of the year, I illustrated the front cover of a children’s book, titled “Inspector Ted”! Written by Sergeant Adie Knowles, the tale is based around the true story of a teddy, who was originally abandoned in the Morecambe Bay area and became a police officer. What’s even better, is that all profits from the book are going to the local charity, Unique Kidz and Co.

Children's Book Front Cover Process
Initially, I had two different ideas for the front cover.

To make a front cover, which would meet Inspector Ted’s high standards, I needed to include the police officer himself and a Morecambe scene. As I have always lived in this area, I was more than familiar with the variety of scenes I could choose from. In the end, I thought I should try out two different ideas and then develop my favourite one.

Inspector Ted Children's Book Rough Colour Sketches
Here I experimented with colour!

Without any colour and just black lines, it can also be hard to get a good idea of what the finished illustration will look like. Therefore, that is why I did another version of each idea, with some very messy colouring in. This really helped me to decide which one worked better than the other one, but is still relatively quick and easy. A lot of people initially don’t realise how much work goes into one illustration behind the scenes, from the start (e.g. the idea) to the finished product.

Inspector Ted Book
Then I sketched my chosen design out bigger, so it was the right size.

Eventually I decided to go with the idea which looked across Morecambe Bay with all of the boats and Inspector Ted (of course)! This meant sketching out the illustration again to ensure that it was the right size. After I was at least satisfied with the sketch, I transferred my work onto watercolour with my light box.

Morecambe Bay's Inspector Ted Artwork
The final artwork!

A whole lot of watercolour, ink and coloured pencils later, the illustration was finished and ready to send off. Following a vote on Morecambe Area Police‘s Facebook Page, it was decided that the Inspector Ted I drew was going to appear on the front cover, which was really a dream come true!

Hannah Robinson Illustrations
A slightly surreal moment seeing your face in a book!

When I got my hands on one of the books, which I  eagerly waitied for, it felt very strange to see my work in print and to see my name and photo in the back of the book. There I was on the back page, wearing my flamingo coat, next to my illustrator’s bio!

Inspector Ted Book
The final book, still available to buy now!

So far, Inspector Ted has raised £1500 for the local charity they are supporting which is fantastic! There’s still in fact time for you to buy a copy for yourself either from Lancaster and Morecambe Police Stations or from eBay here. It was such a lovely drawing to work on and it’s great that it is being enjoyed by so many different people, helping others at the same time!

Acrylic Paint

New Art Supplies!

Very recently, I went to Hobbycraft, which is an amazing shop, selling so many wonderful art and craft supplies! So of course I purchased a few new things and this blog post is all about me trying them out and just experimenting. I don’t know about you, but when I buy any new art material, one of the best parts is testing it out for the first time…

Art Materials at Hobbycraft
The endless selection of different art materials!

When you walk into Hobbycraft, you are plunged into a world of art, which is obviously a good thing. Their art supplies selection is probably the best I’ve ever seen, with shelves lined with so many products that I wish I owned! Really, I could spend hours on end in there, because there is so much choice!

New Art Supplies
My recent art purchases…

After a lot of thinking (and I mean a lot), I decided to buy the art supplies in the picture above. There’s a new bottle of ink, because no one can ever have enough bottles of ink; a Copic Ciao Marker in a really light blue colour; a warm grey BrushMarker; a Hobbycraft sketchbook and finally some pipettes to use with ink.

Today, I thought that I should take trying out new art supplies to the next level; why not? I decided to create a little illustration only with just the new art stuff I brought from Hobbycraft. However, I allowed myself to use a pencil, fine liner and paintbrush that I already own just to make my life a little easier.

Sketch by Hannah Robinson Illustrations
Mainly, I used the plan to decide on the colours to use.

Before I jumped straight into the picture, I did a little plan for the illustration. As I was working with very few art supplies, it meant a small selection of colours, so planning seemed like the sensible thing to do. All I did was draw out the picture as a sketch and then annotated which colour should go where. Then it was time to finally test out the new things (the best part)!

The Princess and the Frog Illustration
Pandas can be princesses too!

So this princess and this frog (and panda) are the end product of my little test and I can say I am very happy with my new art supplies! The thing that pleased me the most was the sketchbook. Most sketchbooks can be too expensive for what I use them for. For me, a sketchbook is just a place to experiment, so spending too much money on one is not something that I like to do, but I still need them to be able to take things like watercolour. This sketchbook was really affordable and the quality was very good for the price that I paid for it (which is obviously amazing)! It did everything I needed it to! When I used my brand new markers, it didn’t bleed too much and took a bit of watercolour too.

It was also my first time using the Pitt Pastel pencil, but I actually really like it! Through experimenting, I discovered a really cool technique, which I used for the skin. Basically, on a separate piece of paper, I added water to the pastel with a paintbrush and then this produced a sort of pale, pinkish skin tone colour. It was really similar to using watercolour actually. The colours for my markers are fantastic as well and really nice to use. The Copic Marker is a really good pale blue, which can be really hard to find in a marker sometimes.

Anyway, I could literally go on forever about art supplies, but I think that I should probably stop! I just love experimenting with new mediums and they can really help you develop your art style and discover what you work best with. Hobbycraft is a really cool place to go to if you are looking for something new to try in your illustration work or even any form of art. I would like to say all of these views are my own.


We Finished Inktober!

I have heard about the art challenge inktober for a few years now, after seeing numerous illustrators I admire complete it most years. Last year I kind of wanted to give it a go, but I wasn’t sure if I would able to keep up it all for an entire month. So obviously I found an excuse, because it was a lot easier. My excuse was that I did not have enough ink supplies to really give it ago, as I did not own any coloured ink and we all know a month with zero colour is impossible for me! However, this year I have started a bit of a coloured ink obsession, so I tried my best…

Witch Illustration by Hannah Robinson Illustrations
Day 2 was a witch, one of my favourites!

Guess what? I did it! I survived all 31 days, which just calls for a celebration dance or even a party. Everyday, I managed to post one ink drawing (at least) and completed the challenge over all. What’s even better is: I really enjoyed doing it! I hope you all liked seeing my daily ink drawings and thankfully so far I have received so much lovely feedback, which is super kind of you all.

Owl Illustration by Hannah Robinson Illustrations
Another fun one, but this time an owl illustration.

One thing that I have loved about this month is everyone else’s inktober drawings. It’s a great source of inspiration and on a day when you want to give up, it really encourages you to carry on. It’s also really interesting to see how everyone’s work is so different, even though they are working with the same medium.

Dragon and Wizard Illustration
This one was done fairly recently.

Through out the month, I feel like I have improved with the medium ink, but especially with black and white illustrations. You may not see much of a difference, but I have certainly grown more confident as the challenge has progressed, which is of course really encouraging to see. It’s also been nice to take a step back from my usual mixed media work and focus on just one thing and really get to know it and how it works. Another thing which I am sure will be useful for me in the near future, will be now having a better understanding of ink, so I can incorporate it into more of my art when I am using other things like watercolours, pencils and gouache.

Lemur Illustration by Hannah Robinson Illustrations
Sometimes I abandoned the spooky theme.

Without a moments hesitation, I definitely want to do inktober again next year. If I do it again, it will be really fun to compare this year’s inktober with it and fingers crossed, there will be some form of improvement for us all to witness. I think that next time I will go for a theme, which will help guide me through the month, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know. This year I kind of followed a rough Halloween and autumn theme, but some days (like the day I drew the lemur), I was just feeling really inspired to draw something that did not fit the theme at all!

Halloween Illustration by Hannah Robinson Illustrations
The very last inktober of 2017 (today)!

Quickly, the month seemed to disappear and today I drew and inked drawing number 31. Now that it is all over, I will still be posting regularly across my social media accounts. For November, I have a lot of ideas for some fairly exciting content and for December, let’s just say it will be looking a lot like Christmas, so I hope that you are all ready!

Flowers by Hannah Robinson Illustrations

Painting Gardens

Just because I am a really kind human, I thought that I should give you a very well deserved break from the world of  Inktober. So in this week’s blog post, I am going to be talking about making this illustration which was for my Grandma’s birthday nearly a whole month a go, which I have not had the chance to write yet until now. It contains a lot of flowers, meaning it’s bursting with colour!

Pencil Sketch
Sharing my pencil sketch for once!

I normally don’t share my pencil sketches for my illustrations, because they are never really that good. With a distinct lack of outlines and colour, I feel that mine look a bit bare, so I usually avoid showing them to other people. However sketches are simply a way of getting down your ideas so they can be refined later one. Therefore for me personally, they are a key element of the creative process and shouldn’t be left behind!

Ink Outlines by Hannah Robinson
The hardest bit: Inking…

I really like my illustrations to be bold. This means an outline with a fine liner or some form of ink is normally essential for a large proportion of my work. In this piece, there were loads of teeny tiny flowers to ink carefully. When it comes to this step, I am forced to slow down a lot, but they do say slow and steady wins the race! The lady in the picture is actually an illustrated version of my Grandma who loves gardening and flowers, so a garden environment seemed very fitting.

Watercolour Illustration
Lots of different colours!

I used a combination of watercolours and inks, which meant I got to do a bit of experimenting, which is always fun. As you can probably see, to make sure the grass had a bit more texture than everything else, I used a sponge with different shades of green to create the overall effect. To further develop an art style (well in my case anyway), I always feel like I need to experiment with different things within my art to make sure I can grow as an artist. For example, trying out new mediums is a great one and my favourite. At the moment due to Inktober, I am experimenting with black and white illustrations and some with a more limited colour palette.

Grandma's Garden by Hannah Robinson Illustrations
The finished birthday present!

Ta-da! Here you go, the finished picture which you may have already seen before, but hear it is again. It now lives in my Grandma’s house and she is very happy with it. In fact she has now commissioned me to draw another illustration to go along side it on the wall. I actually have a very clear idea of what it could be, but I am not going to say, because she normally reads these blog posts! Have you noticed the panda yet? Of course there had to be a from of panda in the artwork, but this time the panda is in a very convincing disguise of a garden gnome.