HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Illustration Inspiration: Thomas Docherty, Illustrator of The Storybook Knight
Illustration Inspiration_ Thomas Docherty, Illustrator of The Storybook Knight

Illustration Inspiration: Thomas Docherty, Illustrator of The Storybook Knight

The Children’s Book Review | September 10

Thomas Docherty studied metalwork and sculpture at Art College, but has always liked drawing. He often keeps a diary full of notes and sketches on his travels, and it is these diaries that inspired his first picture books.

When he is not writing and illustrating, Thomas spends much of his time visiting schools and libraries to meet his readers and help them create their own stories. He lives in Swansea in the UK with his wife, the author Helen Docherty and their two daughters. Thomas and Helen often collaborate on their picture books including the hugely successful The Snatchabook which has won numerous awards and been published all over the world.

 I make art because…

I have always wanted to record my experiences in some way. This really started when I began keeping a sketchbook diary, particularly whenever I travelled somewhere new. The diaries are a mixture of words and pictures, and they helped inspire the first few picture books that I wrote and illustrated.

Thomas Docherty Sketchbook DiaryLatest published book…

The Storybook Knight

Inspired by…

My wife Helen wrote the story about Leo, a mouse-knight who would prefer to read a book than go on a dangerous quest to tame a dragon. We live in Wales in the UK, which has some really dramatic scenery, and I was able to put some of this straight into the illustrations. I had also recently visited a local riding school to draw the ponies for another project I had been working on, and this was a big help when it came to creating the character of Ned, Leo’s faithful horse.

Thomas Docherty Welsh Castle
The Storybook Knight_05a
Art medium used…

Acrylic ink, coloured pencil and watercolor on watercolor paper.

Artistic process …

Hundreds of pencil sketches to develop the characters and their world, followed by four or five rough drafts putting together the text with the sketches in the computer, followed by a few months’ hard painting to create the final artwork!

Thomas Docherty Knight Sketches
Favorite place to create & illustrate …

I like thinking up and developing new ideas when I’m walking or maybe travelling on the train but I do most of my drawing and all of my painting in my studio in our house in Swansea, Wales.

Most used art supply or tool …

2b Faber Castell 9000 pencils and Phthalo Blue and Phthalo Turquoise watercolour in tubes.

Illustrator idols …

Quentin Blake, Tove Jansson, Gunvor Edwards, Ivan Bilibin, EH Shephard, Roger Duvoisin, Ferelith Eccles Williams, Kevin Waldron and about a thousand more…!

All-time favorite children’s book you didn’t illustrate…

How Tom Beat Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen by Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake (Jonathan Cape 1974).

A literary character to create art with …

Pippi Longstocking

Currently working on …

The third in a series of books about a little girl called Polly who lives by the sea and has a pet puffin called Neil. The series is written by Jenny Colgan and the illustrations are black and white pen and ink with an extra layer of orange colour in places.

Connect with Thomas Docherty …

www.ThomasDocherty.co.uk | Twitter


The STorybook KnightThe Storybook Knight

Written by Helen Docherty

Illustrated by Thomas Docherty

Publisher’s Synopsis: Even dragons love a good story…

Leo was a gentle knight
in thought and word and deed.
While other knights liked fighting,
Leo liked to sit and read…

When Leo’s mom and dad pack him off to fight a dragon, he takes a shield, a sword―and a pile of his favorite books.

But can a story be as mighty as a sword?

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1492638148

Available Here: 


Discover more picture book illustration inspiration and books like The Storybook Knight, written by Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our Illustration Inspiration series and articles tagged with  and 

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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