Latest Posts

face silhouette and window ocean view photo montage with illustrated clouds and home logo


Welcome to my online illustration home – a window with an ever changing view of story. From the world of Children’s Books to small batch reproduction of illustrations for my Etsy shop PaperCloudSky and related topics inbetween – I’ll be writing and posting about it here.

Everyday illustrated life – from inspirations and sketches to the function and story of illustration beyond the page

Visit PaperCloudSky for Limited Edition archival art prints, cards, fabric.


ink face in sketch book

Sketch Book – progression

It’s always satisfying, not only to see a project completed, but to celebrate the progression of an idea – from initial spark through to finished work. And in this case I’m celebrating the completion of the artwork for a new series of limited edition illustration prints. So here are a series of photos marking that progression.


Yes, that’s my thumb in the first circle – literally a thumbnail sketch!

hand with brush inking faces|ink illustration

Inking faces – more than once!

You may watch a video of the inking of these faces here – featured in an earlier post.

brush and ink illustrated profile of face with berry purple background

Preview – detail of illustration for Giclée print ©Annmarie Scott 2017

brush and ink illustrated profile of face with orange background

Preview – detail of illustration for Giclée print ©Annmarie Scott 2017

The coloured faces above – as previews only – are small sections of larger works – Limited Edition Giclée prints in my Etsy Shop – PaperCloudSky.

Now I can move on and complete more of those light-bulb-moments, those tiny thumbnail sketches – my constant collection of visual cues – stuck carefully in sketchbooks and shelved for safe keeping.


overgrown Australian backyard|eucalypts, monstera, ferns, palms

Creative content defines

Creative content defines who we are – whether it’s a song, a book, poem, painting or other work. In response to This Book Changed My Life, a campaign in celebration of Australian creators – I’d like to share two Australian books from my collection of children’s literature. These books crystallized my decision to pursue study and work as a children’s book illustrator.

The first: There’s a Sea in My Bedroom, by Margaret Wild with illustrations by Jane Tanner.

photo of two children's picture book covers

The second: Drac and the Gremlin, by Allan Bailie with illustrations (again) by Jane Tanner.

Both stories are based on a universal theme of imagination, with child characters at play – moving seamlessly between their real and imaginary worlds. The illustrations in both books are firmly set in locations at once familiar to the Australian child – these being the beach and the space of an overgrown backyard.

Children’s picture books are often a first introduction to words – to visual art – and so to literacy through the reading of stories. And what better way to start than with experiences and settings children are familiar with? That familiarity with local content I think, is a gift of these two books – a reason they remain as old friends in my memory and have gone on to shape the beach and backyard play of my own children.

A variety of creative content is a wonderful thing. And within that variety, Australian children need local literary content that is a reflection of and a connection to who they are and where they live. Kids love to read stories that they can relate to, stories about characters who might live next door, go to the school down the road, adventure with them in their own backyards.

Aussie creators have a diverse wealth of experience and content to share. Hear more of their stories – about what books, what songs changed their lives – pop over to the website,  You may like to share your story too.

drinking glass with fruit ice straw and shadow on sill

Shadows in illustrations.

Whether they create an illusion, a sense of mystery, movement or anchor a subject firmly in place, shadows can be a useful device for an illustrator – just as they are for a painter or photographer. In this post I’ve included a series of photos and illustrations highlighting different aspects of shadow play and visual communication.

Looking at the glass in the photograph above we can see it’s empty – apart from a few pieces of colourful fruit, ice and a straw. Yet it’s shadow presents an image of a glass that is full – with its watery diamond pattern there on the window sill – a suggestive liquid reflection from its base to rim. Here the shadow offers an alternative view of reality.

In the photograph below – shadows place the reader within the landscape. They exaggerate perspective and lead the eye out to sea.

Ocean view rock pools and shadows of two photographers

Shadows place the reader in the landscape

In the next photograph, shadows created by the ripples and radiating water rings give the viewer a sense of movement – both of the water and of the bird.

Spoonbill feeding in shallows|shadows of radiating water rings

Spoonbill feeding – shadows here convey movement of water

sand crab and it's shadow

This sand crab is visually anchored to the sand by its shadow.

Foreground shadows below, frame each view and lead the eye into the distance beyond.

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Finally, shadows in the illustrations below are an invitation for imagination. First cast by trees on the horizon…

illustration looking out through open door across shadowed lawn towards distant tree shapes and shed

Illustration ©Annmarie Scott

…then closer – at the bedroom door and outside the window.

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Shadows in these illustrations partially mask subjects or the character lending an air of mystery. They draw the eye of the reader – inviting a closer look.

Can you see the bunyips in these shadows?

The three illustrations photographed above are from The Bunyip and the Night written by Mark Svendsen


leather-look spine of book with others and pencil on shelf

Sketch Book Friday – Abandon!

I once bought the perfect artist’s sketch book – with a black leather-look cover and wonderful thick, acid-free pages. But when I unwrapped it and set it carefully on my art desk it would not work. Every time I opened the book blank pages stared at me – expressionless and fixedly white – until I closed its cover and placed it neatly on my shelf.

There it observed life for a year or two, while I sketched happily on any other paper. Only when its spell had faded somewhat, did I open it again. Even then, I had to coax it into action by beginning journal style.

On the first blank page, I washi-taped a smudged 2b thumbnail sketch (something I’d prepared earlier) on a ripped-edge scrap of lined foolscap. On the second blank page I taped a post-it note drawing of a smiling face. By the third page my drawings had escaped the additional scraps and sticky-notes – spreading outwards over the pages of that sketch book.

Perhaps the hurdle was my conditioned love of books – there to look at, to be treated with care. There to read again and again.

The sketch however, is perhaps the least formal expression of art – often a few simple lines expressing the beginnings of an idea. It demands carefree abandon – and so too the pages of a sketch book with it. Yet somehow, a book is for keeps.

For new ideas, I still work best on lovely loose sheets of paper – before I tape them to the pages of my sketch book.

pencil sketch of angel's face on paper taped to the page of a sketch book

©Annmarie Scott 2017

character and text lines on a page|design positional

Sketch Book Friday – process

Today, photos of two pencil drawings. Each with a different purpose – each a step towards print ready, finished art for a children’s literature poem – at different stages of my illustration process.

The first photograph depicts a thumbnail sketch – combining layout and my initial spark of a visual idea. Here I’m focussing on the position of elements – the illustrative content and the text for a single page layout – both are intertwined. For the illustrations on the page, I’m focussing on characters and what they are doing – suggesting facial expressions – and any other important visual items.

Often, I’ll highlight what I consider important elements with clarifying arrows and notes, because my ideas sketches are quick – mostly a reminder to myself – simply getting the idea down on paper.

The second photograph also depicts the child from the thumbnail sketch in the first photo. Design and position on the paper are not important – here I’m focussing on rendering the child and reliant on reference pictures I have in my own photographic library.

I shoot a lot of photos – subjects, people, animals, landscapes, flora and fauna – images taken from different points of view that might be useful in an illustration one day. Often they will be a starting point for a rough – often they are insufficient. In order to achieve a specific outcome for an illustration, I will go out and re-draw from life; visit locations; or arrange a new photo shoot. At times I have created a three dimensional model as a reference for drawing – but that’s another story.

graphite pencil drawing outlining girl kneeling with books
This drawing is a step towards another rough – an actual size rough that will be closer to the intended style of the finished art, which for this illustration may return to a style somewhere between the rough and the referenced.

©Annmarie Scott 2017

ink brush in hand completing illustration of face profiles

Brush and ink faces – video

Illustration with brush and ink demands focus on each line – its start, its length, its shape – yes a line has a shape when it’s made with a brush.




This short video is my edit of a morning’s work – inking faces of characters I’d sketched earlier (see roughs in blue) – for a new series of illustrations.

As soon as a brush touches paper, I must decide where it’s going – I have a line and there’s no erasing it. If my brush touches the paper and I’m still wondering where it will go – I see which direction the line leads. A face or it’s expression may vary or indeed change when you follow a line – but this approach can result in a happy accident – perhaps, a more expressive quality of line.

© Annmarie Scott 2017

art media and brush and ink profile of smiling girl and heart

Postcard love!

Above photograph: inking faces – for a new series of illustrations for art prints & cards.

While yesterday – February the 14th – was a day set aside to send messages of love and friendship to our near and dear. It may also serve as a reminder to pause and make note of other days – other moments of celebration that occur throughout the year.

If you love sending and receiving snail mail – keep a set of blank art cards or postcards in your top drawer – for those personal hand written notes and messages any day. Whether they end up archived as personal history in a shoe box, pinned on a cork board, or popped in a frame as art to enjoy every day – postcard love is real.

So take a little time-out from the hurly burly rush of daily life – to pencil or pen a few thoughtful words; write a letter; or indeed let the illustration on a card say it all and simply sign your name.

In a world of the ephemeral, illustrated art cards sent with hand written messages and letters are to cherish.


seaside cottage empty chair and view looking out through bay window

Sketch Book Friday – Summer

On Summer holidays, during time spent without wi-fi – in contrast to bay window views of a windswept coastline with dolphins in the waves beyond the dunes – I found myself cat watching. A ball of contentment, my feline host made it clear that chair sitting (on velvet upholstery) was her everyday super power – and who could argue? Instead, I chose one of half a dozen vinyl perches. Then lulled by sounds of the sea, the cry of gulls and purring – I started to sketch.

So, what is a sketch?

Using my own super powers of observation, I picked up a ballpoint pen and began with those closed eyes and an amazing number of whiskers – referencing them and her nose. I positioned her ears; sketched the shape of her cheeks which lead to her tail tucked-in under her chin, there with her paws. After that, another flurry of light pen lines to suggest her overall shape, and I was back where I’d started. But it doesn’t end there!
open sketch book on chair with drawing of sleeping cat on chair| © Annmarie Scott 2017

When does a sketch become a drawing?

Once I had the basic observations of shape and position of elements on paper, I began making deliberate choices about my use of lines. First, expressive lines to create this-and-that-way tufts and the silkiness of fur. I’d say at this point, a more deliberate craft of drawing, akin but separate to sketching began. Looking less at my subject; glancing quickly at the cat; enjoying the drawing of lines to create light and shade – add texture.

open sketch book on chair with drawing of sleeping cat on chairIt’s not long before texture becomes a pattern. And so the shape of the velvet chair – an imperfect outline – was soon upholstered with rows of arrow-like lines, bending with the cushioned fabric. The arrows are not there in real life – they cannot be observed – they are a construct and a choice I’ve made. They add depth and some height to the fabric. And so the fur ball cat sits nestled there – on the fabric of her chair – the focus of this drawing.

I think drawing seems to suggest making a series of conscious choices – beyond the initial observation of a sketch.

Perhaps you have your own interpretation – are sketching and drawing one and the same?