Victoria Mouse

Sketch Development

I was recently asked about sketch development for the Chilli and Pickles books, so I’ve posted some original drawings along side their final counterparts, to show how illustrations change from initial concept to final print.

There are numerous reasons why pictures change and I have selected a few different ones.

Alterations due to safety concerns

The examples, from Chilli and Pickles Outfox the Fox, show the two dogs putting an ingenious plan together to scare a devious fox away from the chicken coop. The main problem, from an illustration point of view, came with the tin of tomatoes.

A pencil sketch of two dogs. One is carrying a tin can by the lid.

Visually, the tin looked better carried by the lid, however, holding onto a serrated edge in a children’s book clearly didn’t work.

A painted picture of two dogs.  One carrying a tin by it's lid

After much discussion, we decided it should be held safely sideways and the lid removed completely.

The final version of the painted picture of two dogs.  One is carrying a tin on it's side rather than holding the lid.

As a result, the final page layout looked like this

Stylistic Sketch Development

The first change to Chilli and Pickles and the Lost Lamb involved making the lamb younger. It looked too much like the other sheep and needed to be smaller and less fluffy.

As a result, Sarah took on board my comments and came up with this version.

The second issue involving taste and continuity

One of the toys Sarah created for the dogs was a squeaky chicken, but as we had the story about the fox and the chickens coming out, it seemed in bad taste. It didn’t feel right that the dogs protected the chickens in one story and held a chicken in their mouth in another – even if it was only a toy.

Therefore the chicken toy was changed to a more suitable teddy bear.

Digital adjustments

The final illustration is from Chilli and Pickles Save Christmas. Initially I felt the room was too bright, as the scene was set on Christmas Eve and the burglars required a torch to see where they were going. I therefore asked Sarah to make the scene darker.

A painted picture of two burglars and two dogs hiding behind the sofa. The room is light.

She did this digitally, using black gradient surrounds to give the essence of real darkness.

A darker version of two burglars.  The picture has been darkened to make it look like night time.

Sketch development is a two way process and early communication is the key to achieving successful results. The earlier changes can be suggested, the easier it is for the illustrator to make them.

More information about Sarah Leigh Wills can be found at