Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'M BORED book illustration from sketch to final - by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

In this post, I'm going to show the step-by-step evolution of one of the images from I'M BORED, a new picture book from Michael Ian Black and illustrated by yours truly. You can see a bigger version of the spread above on the Simon & Schuster website graphic excerpt page from I'M BORED.

I love Michael's story. It's funny and inspiring, and I think it's going to appeal as much to grown-ups as it will to kids. I had a ton of fun creating the illustrations for this book and thought I'd share part of the process.

Above: an early version of the "little girl pretending to be a rampaging monster" image. I made the notes during a meeting with Justin Chanda (publisher & editor) and Laurent Linn (my art director).

With Laurent Linn & Justin Chanda at S&S.
Photo by Danielle Young.

They loved the monster hat on the girl. We decided to make the girl's mouth look more interesting; Justin & Laurent suggested making it look a bit more like the monster's, maybe echoing the shape. We also decided at this point to make any fantasy elements in the story easier to separate from the real-life elements by coloring them blue.

Above: the preliminary sketch for my revamped drawing. My sketches tend to be very loose, as you can tell, mainly to block in the shapes. Next, I added the line art:

Then I added the fantasy elements in the background (the town), color and the woodcut finish to the line art.

At my next meeting with Justin and Laurent, we decided to color in the girl's mouth throughout the book and to move the potato to the foreground where it would be more noticeable. Plus I needed to add the screaming people back into image (oops, I'd forgotten them). Here are my notes during the meeting:

And here's the revamped image:

In the final layout, Laurent flipped the image so it would work better with the overall spread, then added text:

I LOVE how it turned out and can't wait to see this book on the shelves.

I'll be talking more about the process of creating I'M BORED with Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in the I'M BORED Facebook Page, so please do bookmark/Like.

Next up on Pixel Shavings: the fabulous Fred Koehler!

For more info about my projects, please visit I blog about kidlit/YA writing and illustrating at


  1. Aha! It's a potato! Love it. Nice break down, Debbie, thanks.

  2. Fun illustration and post! Thanks for sharing your process Debbie.

  3. So cool to see how the process works! Also, where can I get a monster hat like that? :) Thanks for sharing, Debbie!

  4. Great, fun illustrations! I'll be looking for this book for my guys. Thank you for writing about the process of creating your art.

  5. Thanks for this GREAT POST Debbie! This is very cool! I can't wait to see the book!

  6. Thanks for sharing, Debbie. Can't wait to see it.

  7. Thank you for sharing Debbie. It's intersting to hear the thought process behind the design and illustration choices. And how cool is that you get have face-to-face meetings with the art director and editor!

  8. Fascinating ... can't wait for the book!

  9. Thanks for the kind words, all!

    Anna: Face-to-face meetings are not the norm, I think. The timing just happened to work out well during my visits to NYC (Justin & Laurent were both free AND we were at a stage in the book where a meeting made sense).

  10. Looks great! Thanks for the step by step. Do you use the wood cut look in many of your projects?

  11. Emma: Thanks so much!

    Alison: Thank you! Yes, I'm starting to use the woodcut look in more projects. But I have multiple illustration styles, so I try to match the style with the project. :-)