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Steve Hutton is the artist and creator behind the Wildwood Witches stories.
How long have you been illustrating and what made you start?
I've been drawing since I was a child, and all through my school days I knew I wanted to be an illustrator. My earliest inspirations were the cover for the 70s Doctor Who Target novels. I loved the show and wanted to draw book covers. I've worked in lots of different media but always felt most comfortable with a pencil. As coloured pencils gained in quality and potential over the years I've invested in them wholly, and now almost all of my work is done in coloured pencil. I really love this medium.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I find that just taking a walk or cycling helps clear my head and lets my thoughts drift, where they eventually hit upon ideas for images. If I try to 'think' of what to do next I hit a blockage, so daydreaming is my way forwards when it comes to inspiration.
Where is your favourite place to illustrate?
At my drawing board, which I've had since I was 12 (and it was old then!). Everything is set up just the way I want it, which lets me just get on and concentrate on the art. If I have to work away from my board (which is rare) I find it hard to get into gear and do my best work.
What are your illustrating/colouring material essentials?
Firstly there's the surface – I always work on mid-grey pastel paper (smooth side, not rough) as the grey tone helps boost the colours I apply. I find that white paper can water down the intensity of a colour. Aside from a stock of pencils, I have a small battery powered rubber that's very handy if you've got to alter a tiny details. It's also a great drawing tool in its own right, removing colour rather than laying it down. Pencil extenders are also another must have – better than throwing 30% of your pencils in the bin! Don't know why more people don't use them. For sharpening I always use a scalpel, and also for scratching the finest lines in pigment to draw hair or spider silks etc. As to fixative and finishing off, I tend to work heavy so there's a lot of pigment on my drawings and the wax bloom can be a problem, so I let them 'rest' a few weeks once finished then dust them down and fix them.
What’s the piece of work that you’re most proud of or enjoyed doing the most?
'Reflection' is probably my most well known piece and one which I enjoyed drawing. At 65x50cm it took about 12 days to complete and includes many personal items scattered around the fox's study. The two black and white cats were my own – brothers called Stan and Ollie.
Take a look at this blog post by Steve to learn more about using coloured pencils: http://wildwoodwitches.co.uk/pencils/