scribbly | squishy hard | softline | chinese



Lines that convey more than just the outline or shape of something, that add a sense of light and shadow, and energy: these are my expressive styles.

Scribbly is self-explanatory. It can indicate texture, provide an interesting alternative to cross-hatching when shading and generally makes itself useful. 

Squishy Hard often combines with Scribbly or even just adds some dimension and interest to Simple Line. Squishy isn’t fussy. Good for communicating in a relaxed or serious way and very versatile. A squishy line changes from thin to thick. 

Softline is more decorative, and can become quite sentimental on occasion.

Chinese is of course the president of squishy. I will say no more, except that it nearly landed with the minimals because there’s usually no background. But it got all squishy and emotional so here we are.


scribbly | squishy hard | softline| chinese




Scribbly belongs to the expressive styles for obvious reasons.

Good for heartwarming or serious stories. Storyboards are also great with Scribbly; it’s a fast style and all the info and action can be effortlessly included.

Use this style for when your end-users are used to conservative pictures. In other words, they are simply telling a story or conveying information, but there is still some leeway for a bit of artistry! Conservative doesn’t have to mean boring. Scribbly can convey huge amounts of information, along with light and shade, texture and emotion. A very hard-working, useful style.

Pure Pencil in a Scribbly style can be good when the book’s budget doesn’t allow colour. In South Africa, funds are few and costs have to be kept down for cash-strapped schools to be able to afford books. The paper used for printing sometimes has to be cheaper and thinner than the more high-end books. So pencil in a Scribbly style gives less show-through from the other side of the page. As mentioned under Pure Pencil, the scanning and colour balance of pencil drawings must be done skillfully.

Clients whose work appears here, include Cambridge University Press,  Shuters, Maskew Miller Longman.

scribbly | squishy hard | softline | chinese

squishy hard

Squishy Hard can be as simple as Simple Line but is more descriptive and more soulful, for all its hard edge.

Squishy hard can also be loose. With its partner, Softline, these two styles form the bulk of my drawing work for educational illustration for children.  

What defines them is the thick-thin weight, usually within the same line. So one can show light direction, weight, distance etc. more easily than with the Simple Line, with its width that’s always constant. The Squishy styles are very expressive and lend themselves to strong emotion as with the Red Riding Hood sample.

Work here includes illustrations for Shuters, Cambridge University Press, Intec and Longman Mozambique.

scribbly | squishy hard | softline | chinese


Softline is one of my most often used styles for educational illustration.

Softline is good for all kinds of subjects, from factual to moody to poetic.

A variable or squishy ‘soft line’ adds sensitivity to the image. Like Hardline, it adds info e.g. to a line drawing, showing light and shadow with a thinner or thicker line. 

And if the outline is soft and blurry, it can add an artistic edge even to a wheelbarrow, as you will see in the slideshow. Here the intention was to contrast this artistic version as much as possible with the technical one.

This style is great for cutesy subjects like teddy bears, fluffy animals and cherubs because its soft feel echoes the texture of the object/subject, e.g. the bunny-slippers.

Chinese combines the simple Zen Japanese with styles like Softline and Squishy Hard.

With the Zen Chinese style, though, there is seldom a background, and the thick-thin quality of the line is exaggerated, often to an extreme.

Here the joy is in the line and only the line. Use this when you have wonderful paper (if you’re printing) and want to convey a mood or meaning without becoming too literal about it. The line can be casual but it is always deliberate and has some thought and intention to it.

The focus is on beauty in the line – great also for expressing movement, as in the Phys Ed pics.