Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay archives, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in illustrators (4)


Want to support an author's or illustrator's new book but can't afford to buy it? Here's what you can do.

(Updated September 18, 2015)

The quandary: You want to support someone's new book and as much as you'd like to buy it, you can't. Perhaps you can't justify the cost of the new book right now. Perhaps your author friend is prolific and has multiple books coming out, and you can't afford to get them all. Perhaps you have so many author and illustrator friends that if you tried to buy all their books, you'd need to sell your car first. Or your house.

Click to read more ...


Learning new digital techniques from observing non-digital process, Richard Jesse Watson inspiration and some Tiffanny Varga watercolor tutorials

Although I primarily illustrate using digital methods (Photoshop CS6 with a 7.5" x 11" Intuos Wacom tablet), I'm starting to experiment more with non-digital media on the side. Partly because I like to always be learning something new, to try different techniques, but also because I'm often inspired to try new digital techniques after observing non-digital process.

To illustrators: whether you use digital or non-digital techniques, don't turn your nose up at The Other Side. In my experience, you can always learn something from how other creative types work.

Richard Jesse Watson at the 2011 SCBWI-LA Conference

In 2011, for example, I was super-inspired by the Illustrator Intensives at the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. That year, a bunch of experienced children's book illustrators demonstrated their techniques in a hands-on demonstration; you can see my reports about the sessions on KidLitArtists.com.

Richard Jesse Watson gives a demo

Kudos to the SCBWI Illustration Board and artists involved for providing this amazing opportunity for illustrators to observe. There were two rooms set up so that while the attendees were in one room, the next artist could be setting up, PLUS cameras set up so we could see a close-up overhead view on a screen as each artist worked. There were a wide variety of techniques and styles from renowned children's book illustrators like Paul O. Zelinsky, Marla Frazee, Richard Jesse Watson, Kadir Nelson, Denise Fleming, David Small and Jerry Pinkney.

I learned from everyone, though I was especially inspired by Richard Jesse Watson's demo because his approach felt closest to mine. I loooved how he used different techniques to add texture to his color, his frenzied creative energy. After seeing his workshop, I started experimenting with how to add more texture to my digital illustrations, including learning how to create my own custom-made digital brushes in Photoshop. I ended up using a lot more interesting textures in illustrations for NAKED!, a new picture book written by Michael Ian Black that comes out from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers next year:

Anyway, I recently came across some fascinating watercolor tutorials by Tiffanny Varga. I love the way she how lets different hues of the colors mingle instead of mixing them completely. I'm so going to try this with my real-life watercolor experiments as well as figuring out how to do this effectively with digital watercolor.

Thanks to Children's Illustrators On Fire for the video links!

You can find Tiffanny Varga on YouTube and Twitter, plus her sketchbook blog and portfolio.

© Tiffany Varga.


Self-promo tips for children's book illustrators, by Jen Betton

My SCBWI Illustration Mentee friend Jen Betton has an excellent 2-part post about how children's book illustrators can promote themselves:

Friday postcard sampling via Penguin art director Giuseppe Castellano @(pinocastellano), posted on Twitter

Self-Promotion (Part 1): What To Include

Self-Promotion (Part 2): Postcards and Emailers


Lost Weekend with David Diaz (Part 1): Art, Food & Friendship 

As some of you already know, I was thrilled to be picked for the SCBWI Illustration Mentorship Program at last year's Summer Conference in LA. Thrilled as in "can this really be happening to me" thrilled, especially when combined with the offer from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers to illustrate Michael Ian Black's new picture book, I'm Bored.

2010 MenteeHeader GroupPic 500

The six of us got together during the conference, just to chat and get to know each other a little better: Eliza Wheeler, Andrea Offermann, John Deininger, Kimberly Gee, Ashley Mims and me. We discovered (to our mutual relief, I suspect) that we all got along very well, and we decided to launch our own website at KidLitArtists.com.

We also kept in touch via group email about what we were all up to, shared successes and disappointments, critique and encouragement. We hung out when we attended the same SCBWI events.

At the SCBWI Summer Conference this year, some of us were joking with Caldecott-winning children's book illustrator & SCBWI Illustration Mentor David Diaz, saying we'd love to snoop through his studio (I believe it was Eliza who was nervy enough to suggest it). David surprised us by saying it was a great idea. In fact, he sent out an invite soon after the conference, and said he wanted to invite some other mentees as well.

And so LOST WEEKEND was born!

Sadly, not all the 2010 and 2011 Mentees could make it to Lost Weekend (we missed you guys!). Here's the attendee list:

Mentees: Class of 2010:

Andrea Offermann, Eliza Wheeler and me

Mentees: Class of 2011:

Christina Forshay, Jessica Lanan, Juana Martinez-Neal, Andrea Zuill

Others invited by David:

Bonnie Adamson and Alice Ratterree

Note: This wasn't an officially sanctioned SCBWI event but rather an act of generosity by David. I admire his courage, inviting a bunch of strangers into his private home. I think he was a tad nervous at first, wondering what he had got himself into.

(Above: piece by David Diaz)

Some of us stayed at the hotel, some at David's. I loved David's house with its high ceilings, full of light and color. There was art everywhere, including many gorgeous and interesting pieces by David and his son Ariel.

(Above: Piece by Ariel Diaz)

David did most of the cooking…and he's really good at it! My mouth is watering even as I type this, remembering these home-baked popovers fresh out of the oven, light as air and slathered with fresh cream, jam or savoured plain:

Here are just some of the other things we feasted on during the weekend:

German pancakes, scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach, smoked bacon, sausage.

"Sin-cleansing" French pressed coffee.

Handmade pasta, with an Putanesca Sauce with Hot Italian sausage

Salad with goat cheese, candied walnuts, crasins, and white balsamic vinegar dressing

Sformata di Ricotta

Oven roasted garlic

Fresh bread

Jambalaya rice with sausage, mushrooms, grilled tri-tip

Pumpkin pie

Chocolate chip coconut brownies

Apple raspberry crumb pie and ice cream.

I'm pretty sure I left Lost Weekend heavier than when I arrived.

Plus Bonnie introduced me to Pickled Okra (yummmmmmmmmmmm):

which go wonderfully in these:

I loved the buzz of activity in the kitchen as we chopped and stirred under David's tutelage, conversation and laughter (a LOT of laughter) filling the house.

Even food shopping was fun:

I discovered Von's, which is apparently a chain grocery story in California. "V-a-u-g-h-n-s," said David, when I asked him how to spell it. I believed him and started writing it down until I heard the others sniggering. Kidlit illustrators can be so MEEEEEAN. :-D

We spent a lot of time just chatting in front of the fireplace. We each gave a brief demo of how we worked, talking about our process. It was funny, really -- each one of us basically felt like our own process was SO boring yet when it came to seeing how the others did their work, we were each fascinated. Lots of kidlit and art talk and picture book writing talk, plus browsing of each other's portfolios.

On Sunday, the weather cleared up so we decided to go walking on the beach. SUCH a nice change from Toronto weather!

We left our shoes in a pile on the beach:

David reassured us that no one would steal them. :-)

And holy cow, I know it sounds like a cliché, but it felt SO GREAT to walk barefoot along the beach!

and we saw pelicans:

and hang gliders:

David took us to the Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Garden, with its beautiful gardens and koi ponds:

We got in trouble from a security guard in the gardens when we laughed too much as we tried to get this photo taken:

Darned noisy kidlit illustrators!

Above: David let us snoop through some of his archives from earlier in his career

It was fascinating to see some of David's earlier work, and hear his explanations of how and why he changed his illustration style. We also got to see sketches and drawings from Mother Earth Watches (working title, will change), his upcoming book with Chronicle Books (tentative publication date: Spring 2013).

David taught us a new technique: taping down a framed area on masonite, painting a background texture/color using acrylics, then a layer of matte medium (or at least I had to do this since my base layer of acrylic was already so textured), then drawing in conte, then spraying with a fixative.

Some of us (hand waving here) didn't normally work with acrylics, so were a bit nervous about the process. BUT it ended up being a lot of fun as well as enlightening -- it was good to push beyond our normal creative comfort zones, especially in a safe and encouraging environment like the one at Lost Weekend.

Also very cool to see the different approaches everyone took in their projects.

Andrea Zuill, who drove to David's, brought some of her paintings later in the weekend for us to look at. I LOVE her work! She also brought a print for each of us as a gift. Here's the one she gave me:


You can see more of Andrea's work at http://www.andreazuill.com/


Continued in Part 2: Lost Weekend With David Diaz.