Illustrating 'Watership Down'

Hi reader! Welcome back to my studio blog. This week I went back in time and used my favourite technique from my University days to create a new piece for my portfolio.

If you read my post about My 2019 Business Goals, you may recall that I want to build a fresh portfolio of new work to appeal to clients, and possibly agents and art directors too. I’d love to design book covers and inside spreads for books and magazines, so I thought I’d take inspiration from one of my favourite books, Watership Down.


I don’t know why, but my brain told me to try my old techniques I used during my degree back in the day. I used to screenprint textures onto paper and cut them up into little shapes to create landscapes and characters, and the finished effect was really sleek and proper nice.

Recently I’ve been painting with gouache for animals which I love, but I struggle adjusting my painting technique to capture places and people in a contemporary way (which frustrates me, so I still to animals and dinosaurs!). And as I wanted to broaden my subject matter, I thought I should get back into experimenting with different techniques again to see if anything clicks.


I painted all sorts of textures on pieces of paper in my chosen colour palette and went on to create shapes using my scalpel. I played with all the elements before glueing them down to play around with composition and concepts. I didn’t really sketch a plan beforehand, but I knew the setting I wanted and that I needed a flying rabbit to depict the god-like figure the buns talk about in the story, and also the final chapter entitled ‘Hazel Comes Home.’

After scanning in the pieces and the sketchbook pages, I Photoshopped the fuzzy edges and adjusted the levels to get a nice crisp and bold illustration. I hand-lettered the title and the authors name to create the book cover jacket, and overall I’m really happy with the outcome!


Sometimes we forget to play and experiment like we were encouraged to do so in School and University. I’m glad I shook things up and dug out the scalpel and used the cutting mat that is currently my mouse pad for its intended use! Most importantly, I really enjoyed this process and I felt really creative and excited about what I was making. I think this style is still very me, and I can re-create this look digitally if working with a client (amends are easier to make on vectors than real paper!).

I’ll keep you updated with my new work and exciting new portfolio adventure! If you have any ideas of what books I should illustrate next, let me know in the comments below! I’m thinking Jurassic Park and my other favourite book, Frankenstein!

Thanks for reading and see you soon,
Amy x

P.s, this illustration is available as a print on my etsy shop - check it out here!

watership down cover.jpg