At the beginning of the current lockdown, I initially found it difficult to focus on any work. With exhibitions being postponed or cancelled I started looking through my sketchbooks for some inspiration.

I spent a day looking through everything and amongst all the awful drawings there were a few which always stand out in my memory and some which I’d completely forgotten about.

Now, taking a step backwards for a bit and another story, I had a cull of all my sketchbooks in April last year. I kept the best pages plus the more recent work and threw away about 20 books.

I’ve stored these drawings in a folder and occasionally look through them but I much prefer looking through a book. That brings me back to the lockdown and what to do with my favourite sketches.

I thought about photographing them to keep on my phone, but that’s just not the same as looking at a book. The solution was obvious really ... make them into a book! 

I looked at various places online but it was all aimed at ‘proper’ photos rather than drawings so I asked my eldest for some advice as she often has her photos printed. She pointed me towards ‘Photobox’ where I discovered a 40-page soft cover photo journal, which reminded me of a Hahnemuhle journal and, on the face of it, would be perfect for photos of sketches.

In my mind the whole thing, once finished, would be like an actual sketchbook. Another bonus was that it wasn’t too expensive (a 50% off offer at the time). My mind was set and at least this would give me something focus on during the lockdown.

I spent a few days photographing the sketches using my phone and editing - cropping the photo, adjusting the brightness, shadows and colour balance, all options within the standard Apple photo App.

With all the photos looking as I wanted, I went to the Photobox website using my laptop and started ‘creating’ the book.

The process is relatively straightforward, select which photo book you want, upload the photos and use the templates provided to add, subtract, delete, change/move the photos around until you are happy with the layout.

I found some of the layout options a little restrictive but for the cost it was a price I was happy to pay. I took a couple of days over this but really with the benefit of hindsight I should have spent a little more time editing, making sure the photos of the sketches were accurate and the layout of the book was ‘right’. I was just too eager to see what the end result would look like as I’ve never seen a printed book/journal of my work before.

I then ordered the book.

Back to the beginning again, and some of my favourite drawings/sketches are of my children and grandchildren but I didn’t want to include them in the photo book journal of my work. So, having made the first book, I decided to make another before the 50% offer ran out!

This time though, I would order three. One for me and one each for my daughters. I went through the same process, photographing and editing but this was much harder. I had to balance the number of sketches with the number of pages in the book and make sure each of the grandchildren were represented equally.

I could have done with another 20 pages to fit everything in and I had to make some difficult choices, with the layout sometimes taking precedence over the photo.

Again I was excited to see the end result but not only for me but for my children. The plan was to send them a copy through the post as a surprise to try and create the feeling I had as a child when receiving an unexpected present through the post.

The books took a couple of weeks to arrive. The first was the sketchbook photos (see above) and I was really pleased with the overall result as it pretty much turned out how I had imagined. There are a few tweaks I would make but overall it’s a good place to keep my favourite drawings and so much better than scrolling through photos on my phone.

I was equally pleased when the three ‘grandchildren books’ arrived (see below). Again there are a few adjustments I would make but nothing too drastic. I think I was just as excited to put the books in the post as I was to create them and the girls were so pleased .... which made me happy!

So, in conclusion, if you have a collection of drawings, sketches, paintings and want to make a book of them then I reckon this is a good place to start.

Stay safe, David.

If you'd like to create your own photo book take a look at the Photobox website,

See more from David on his website, and look out for a new article in the September 2020 issue of The Artist (out on August 7).