Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Get to Know Our Illustrators – Saul Washington III

How long have you been a member of SCBWI? 

I’ve been a member for two years. I’ve become more active recently.

What’s the most impactful thing you have learned from being in SCBWI?
I’ve learned the importance of support networking. Its great being part of a community that shares the same passion for art as you do. The information resources are remarkable.

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?

I work digitally. My primary tools are a Surface Pro 7 and iPad. The software’s I primarily use is Clip Studio Paint, Procreate, Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.


What is your illustration process?



I start with thumbnail sketches in my sketchbook. I identify focal points, horizon line, foreground, middle ground, background, and perspective that will be used. Composition is everything. All figures are rendered as simple silhouettes. At this stage, my focus is to solve all visual problems before moving onto the next stage.

Next, I gather references and take pictures. (Full disclosure, this is when my family hides from me as I use them as models.) I also figure out my color pallets at this stage as well. Once this is done, I begin layouts. I keep my figures as silhouettes to make certain that they read clear with no confusion.

Finally, I scan the art to my computer. At this point, this is where I refine the art and apply either color pallets or tones. (I prefer tones over colors as I see values more clearly.)


How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating professionally for two years.

How did you first get into illustration?

When I was young, I really loved newspaper cartoon strips. Especially Prince Valiant. I was 6 when I saw a picture of Hal Foster behind his desk drawing. I knew what I wanted to do ever since. I was hired for my first Illustration job after college when a Gallery owner saw my Instagram page.


Are you self taught or did you study illustration?

I studied at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco with a BFA in Illustration.

Do you have a dedicated art space? Is it in your home or outside your home?

I have a dedicated space within my home, an Art Cave. Sometimes I’ll go to a local library just for a change of pace.


What would be your dream book to illustrate?

My favorite subject is history, and my favorite genre is science fiction. I would love to do a graphic novel about a historical person or a science fiction story.



Are you working on any fun projects now?

I’m working on a personal project I hope to pitch soon. It’s a historical fiction during the early days of aviation where two historical pilots crosses paths. I’m hoping it will see the light of day.


Do you write children’s books as well or have any plans to do so?

I am a writer as well. However, I’m concentrating on establishing myself as an illustrator currently.


Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

Make mistakes. Know what kind of work you want to do and find out everything you can about it. Drink plenty of water. Study artists that you admire. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Look for people who are already doing what you want to do and learn from them. Make even more mistakes. Drawing from life will make your art better. Get plenty of rest and remember to have a life. Finding other artists with the same vision is a force multiplier. “If you hang around the barber shop long enough, sooner or later, you are going to get a haircut.” Always remember why you started drawing.


Do you currently have an agent? If so, how did you end up with that agent?

I don’t have an agent. However, I am actively looking for one. If an agent is reading this and could use my style, call me!


If you’ve won any illustrating awards or have any books published, please list them here.

  • Academy of Art University Spring Show 2020 Sketchbook Category
  • Society of Illustrators of Los Angels Illustration West 59 Competition 2020, Certificate of Merit.


List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

  • I’m a retired Marine with 26 years of service and a combat vet.
  • My youngest son and I are on the Autism Spectrum.
  • When I was 10, I washed dishes for an entire summer to earn money to buy a copy of “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way”. It was my first art book and I still have it to this day.
  • I’m a father of three (Two boys and a daughter) and grandfather of five.
  • My youngest son will graduate later this year from the Academy of Art University majoring in Animation.


Where can people find more of your work?



To see our Previous Get to Know Our Illustrators, click here.