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Shirley Hughes Sketchbook Award

In celebration of the work of Shirley Hughes, the Shirley Hughes Sketchbook Award honours observational drawings of the everyday, shining a light on images that reflect the seemingly humdrum details of day to day life.


This new award invites you to submit a selection of sketchbook pages showing your observational drawing. These pages should demonstrate your drawing skills, the emotion you can convey and details that can only be captured by really looking at the world around you. 

Shirley Hughes was an award winning illustrator and author, who made an exceptional contribution to British children's books. Her portrayal of childhood, shown in such stories as Dogger, Alfie and Out and About, is instantly recognisable and loved by the world over. Shirley also gained critical acclaim for her books for an older audience like The Lion and the Unicorn and Ella's Big Chance.


Beautifully observed drawings were at the heart of Shirley’s much beloved work, and the judges will be looking for sketchbook observations of real life - celebrating character, emotion and vitality.


First prize - £1000 plus an Orange Beak tutorial 
Runner up prize - £250 plus an Orange Beak tutorial 
Highly commended - An Orange Beak tutorial
To make this competition accessible to as many illustrators as possible there is no fee to enter.


The competition runs from February 9th 2024 until 11.59pm on June 10th 2024 (UK Time Zone).

The shortlist of 15 entries will be announced at the end of June.

The winners will be announced on Tuesday July 16th 2024.


The award will be judged by Clara, Tom and Ed Vulliamy, Shirley’s children; the Orange Beak team of author-illustrator Maisie Paradise Shearring and Ness Wood, Shirley’s long-time designer at Penguin Random House Children’s Books; as well as guest judge, Ken Wilson-Max, author-illustrator-publisher. 


Sketchbooks by Shirley Hughes


We invite you to send up to 6 pages of sketchbook work as one multipage PDF.

This award is about sketchbook work not resolved illustrations. These drawings can be either black and white or colour, and created in any material that best suits your work. We will not accept work created by A.I.

The judges will be looking for sketchbook observations of real life - celebrating character, emotion and vitality.

Your pdf must be of emailable size (maximum 3MB per pdf) and the resolution must be clear enough to see the images. The images can be portrait or landscape. You may compress your file if you wish.


Please title the pdf as: yourname_SH_Award2024

Please email the pdf to: 


By submitting your work, you are confirming that this is your own original work and that you are the copyright owner. Entries that do not meet the entry requirements may be disqualified. The judges decision is final.

Please read the eligibility and frequently asked questions below, and ensure you understand them before entering this award.


The Shirley Hughes Sketchbook Award is open to anyone over the age of 18yrs. 

Employees of Orange Beak and their family members may not enter. 

Entries are limited to one per person (1 pdf per person).

We welcome international entries.


What happens if I enter resolved/final artwork?

If you enter final artwork your entry will not be counted. This is a sketchbook/drawing award. Examples of a selection of sketchbook work can be seen below.

Does the work I enter need to be new work?

The work you enter does not need to be new work, however, it must not be previously published in print or awarded in another competition.


Can I submit physical sketchbooks?
You cannot send in your actual sketchbook, emailed pdfs only.

Should I submit 6 spreads or 6 pages from my sketchbook?

Plus submit 6 single pages or 3 spreads or a combination.


How do I know that you have received my submission?
You will receive an email saying that your submission has been received. The email will be monitored on a part time basis, and so please allow time for a response.


If I miss the deadline can I still be considered?
If you miss the deadline, you will not be considered for the award.

What happens if I am selected for the longlist?

If your work is selected for the longlist, we will contact you via email and your work will feature on the Orange Beak instagram. The longlist of 15 entries will be announced at the end of June 2024.

What happens if I win?

If you win, are the runner-up or a highly commended, you will be contacted via the email you submit with and your work will be featured on the Orange Beak instagram and website. The winner will receive £1000 plus an Orange Beak tutorial. There will be one runner up who will receive £250, plus an Orange Beak tutorial. There will be one highly commended entry who will receive an Orange Beak tutorial. These winners will be announced on Tuesday 16th July 2024.

For any enquiries or press please email 

Examples of sketchbook work

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