Responsible for the completion of illustrations for Thomas the Tank Engine, Reginald Payne was used by Edmund Ward in place of William Middleton, who had proved largely inadequate to the task in the eyes of the author.
Reginald Payne slavishly followed the Reverend W. Awdry's sketches in order to complete the quota. Like the mistakes of Middleton before him, he had set another character's appearance for the duration - Thomas. Originally based on a child's toy of a different appearance, the artist instead made Thomas into an E2 0-6-0 tank engine of the Southern region. Content with this, Awdry allowed the design to stay in the series.
Payne's illustrations were more bold and eye-catching to the reader than the previous book, and he's very much responsible today for creating the most famous illustrations of the entire series, as well as his hand in creating an iconic character. He was not credited for it - much like William Middleton before him - and continues to be uncredited in subsequent editions of Thomas the Tank Engine. Nevertheless, Awdry was satisfied with the standard of work set by Payne, despite inaccuracies in point work and track, which he hoped to improve for new editions of the book. The improvements were made by C. Reginald Dalby in 1950 for a new edition of the book. The artist was due to be asked back for James the Red Engine, but unfortunately Payne suffered a nervous breakdown following issues in the Admiralty and could not resume his artistic duties.
- Reginald Payne on Sodor Island Fansite