Quentin Blake’s drawing tips

Quentin blake crocodile

One of my favourite illustrators of all time is Quentin Blake. The liveliness of his work, and the wonderful characters and scenes are so amazing! Last year I visited an exhibition at museum Meermanno in The Hague, dedicated to his work. It was such an inspiring visit, and I’d like to share some insights!

Let’s start with a look at his Winsor & Newton water colour palette.

Wonderful colours of course, grouped into families! And such a good idea, to stick the water colour pans on a large piece of white cardboard, which leaves space for adding the names. In a standard pan box, the darker colours are sometimes difficult to distinguish.
However, before adding colour, the drawing process begins with a pencil and lots of sketches, like this…

Quentin Blake sketch

… which eventually turns into beauties like these!

Quentin Blake drawing tips

But how to get from A to B?

Things I learned from my visit to the exhibition:

  • Draw, draw and draw! By practicing every day, your drawing will improve, and become just as fluent and personal as a sort of handwriting.
  • Use lots of paper… keep the things you like, and use a lightpad to draw these in the final image.
  • Regarding the use of the lightpad (and very important): do not trace your images, and only use the underlying sketch as a faint guideline. Use the nib pen just like you’re sketching, and keep the drawing quick and vibrant!
  • When starting on the final image in ink: start with the most difficult part, for example the facial expression, so when that’s not to your satisfaction, you can easily start over again on a new piece of paper. And when you’re happy with it, the most difficult part is done!

Have lots of fun, and keep creating!


Want to read more tips and inspiration? Check out these books: