About Tina Macnaughton illustrator of children's picture books. Little Hedgehog series.

I have had the pleasure of working as a freelance illustrator for over 18 years and in that time illustrated more than 50 picture books, board books and early reader novels.  My books have been published in 41 different countries and translated into 40 different languages, including ones from my family roots of Scottish Gaelic and Danish, so it’s always great to hear from readers from far flung places.  In addition I have also created work for magazines, educational and greeting card publications.

I  was born in Edinburgh  in Scotland and raised in the south of England where I now currently live in Surrey with my husband and daughter.   I began my illustration training when I drew every night in bed as a girl on a little chalk board until everything was blue, pink or yellow much to the frustration of my mother.  My parents’ back garden was like a small woodland and with it came lots of wildlife and so I was always chasing something or examining some creepy crawly much to the horror of the rest of my family. When I was asked by my teachers and other kids if I was going to be an artist when I grew up, my reply was usually ‘No way, I am going to be a vet!’ To the relief of many animals it dawned on me that  was much better at drawing animals than examining them. 

After completing a HND in Graphic Design at Cumbria College of Art and Design, and briefly living in the Cayman Islands I went on to study Illustration at John Moores University from where I graduated in 1992 with BA Hons (2:1) degree in illustration.  

At the time the internet was a far off dream and freelancing seemed like a total mystery.  Combined with the pressure of earning a living, I fell into graphic design for a few years, working on products for children.  This in the long run proved a useful training ground for a wannabe illustrator.  In between utterly deathly boring changes to packaging designs I secretly scribbled in my notebook.  I would amuse myself with my imagination let loose, my world started to unfold with images of pigeons, gorillas and daft fairies.  It was either that or find myself snoring on the keyboard.  As my passion for my alternative world developed, I formed a cunning plan to escape drudgery and vowing to never commuting on that hellish road the M25 ever again.

Purple and Green Dragon Burns toast by Tina Macnaughton.

Then I plunged myself into creating a new portfolio of illustrations and research.  After I had started contacting potential clients, it was a case of sit and wait for that phone to ring.

In the spring of 2002 I briefly met Little Tiger Press at the London book fair, after a series of very happy accidents and a chance meeting on a tube train.  Then one day in early 2002 the call came that I had been looking for, it was from Little Tiger Press to ask to meet me.  They asked me to try and create a soft looking style, which if successful, could be used for a particular book they in mind.  So I began the process of convincing them that I was worth a punt and after one small woodland’s worth of paper later, I had produced enough illustrations to convince them to give me a contract for one book deal.

That first picture book was ‘One Snowy Night’, written by M Christina Butler, about a Little Hedgehog, her first book about a Little Hedgehog in a red bobble hat.  It is still in print today and has spawned an international bestselling series of books with sales of over 2 million copies worldwide to date and counting.  It also kick started my freelance illustration career and further commissions so I am very thankful to that little prickly fellow.

On Christmas day in 2011 one of the Little Hedgehog books, One Christmas Night, featured as the CBeebies Bedtime Story read by sixties icon Lulu.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw my illustration being shown as the story was read out.  The emotion was so overwhelming I almost forgot to leave anything out for Santa and Rudolf!

Just as amazing in 2012 one of my illustrations, “Penguins in a Blizzard”, was selected to appear in the Association Of Illustrators’ (AOI) Images 36 – Best of British Illustration 2012 book (page 159).

Where Snowflakes Fall illustrated by Tina Macnaughton.

On the 22nd March 2014 a second of my picture books, Time for Bed Little One, written by Caroline Pitcher and published by Little Tiger Press, featured as the CBeebies Bedtime Story read by Charlie Condou.

I create my illustrations with soft pastels and pencils on pastel paper. A large image with 4 or more characters and a reasonable amount of detail may take up to 2 days (sometimes more) to do the full colour art. A typical picture book can take 3 months working full time to create. Each book begins with brain storming ideas and research. Then small thumbs or tiny drawing of each spread are drawn to get an overview of the book. Once those are approved i then launch into full size pencil drawings. After many changes and ping ponging to and fro I get the go ahead to go to art. At this stage I do colour thumbs which are tiny versions of each image. At this stage it is much easier to plan the colour. Make all my mistakes here rather than with the final image. Once those have been approved then its time to dive head first into final art.

In addition to my book work I have also worked with Absolutely Cuckoo (creators of Waybuloo on CBeebies) to create character designs for animations and apps. One brand I worked on, ‘Mimi and Bibi’ (I designed the characters), was bought by HoHo entertainment (Cloud Babies), who made it into a short 2 minute animation and is in the process of being presented to TV channels. Its an extremely long process and may not go anywhere ultimately, but a great experience nevertheless less.

Clients:  Little Tiger Press, Lion Hudson, Gullane Children’s Books, Cbeebies magazine, WHSmiths, Hardie Grant, Piccadilly Press, Modern Times, Tiger Tales, World Vision and many more.

Events:  Edinburgh book festival 2007 and 2010, Wigtown Book festival 2012.

I continues to illustrate picture books today and provide guidance and advice to budding authors and illustrators when possible.  To keep up to date with my latest books and illustrations please follow me on social media as per the links at the bottom on the page or search for Tina Macnaughton freelance illustrator on your favorite internet search engine.

Scroll to Top