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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Last updated January 11, 2016

[Edited: Thanks to Curtis Sponsler for the extra info about the best format for sending slideshow images. See Curtis's answer below, under the "What do I need to send ahead of time?" question. I suspect most of you have already sent your images but I've posted the info anyway, just to so we all know for the future.]

This info is for those participating in the SCBWI-Miami Regional Conference Killer Dummy Workshop Comprehensive with children's book author/illustrators Pat Cummings and Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

Pat and Debbie may be updating this page with additional  useful info closer to the conference, so please do check back!


For anyone with a picture book dummy in progress, this will be an opportunity to workshop it, develop it and identify the next step for marketing it to publishers. Author/illustrators Pat Cummings and Debbie Ridpath Ohi will offer feedback, advice and tough love to help you finish a viable book dummy.

Q. What do I need to send ahead of time?

For the First Look Slideshow, participants are asked to send ONE image to Linda Shute by January 8th, 2016. This should be a final art spread (two facing pages) from the dummy you are bringing.


It may be a spread where the art covers both pages, or two facing pages (with one scene on each page). A line box should define the boundaries of the pages. The color samples should be at least 1500 pixels wide and max 3 MB in file size, JPG or JPEG format.

Example where art covers both pages.


Example of spread with separate images on two different pages

Separately, please send Linda the text that goes on that double spread finished art sample. DO NOT insert the text into your color art sample.

Edited: I asked Curtis Sponsler what kind of format is best for sending images, and to Zebo Ludvicek for inquiring. Here's what Curtis said:

The issue we always face is a conflict of quality -vs- file size, and how best to display the works as not to ruin their beauty and details. What I recommended to Zebo is this:

First, ignore DPI - it has NO relevance to digital presentation. It’s only for print. You need to focus on pixel size resolution. An optimum digital image size for viewing on the web and computers is 3,000 x 2,000 pixels (or swapped for portrait). Yet for most digital projectors we need to drop that to about 2,000 x 1,500. An HD projector works at 1,920 x 1,080, so the resolution you want to show at should be just a bit larger, but not much.

Another setting of images to consider is the color space. For print most people work in CMYK, but all projectors work in RGB. Make sure you work with a duplicate of your master then convert the color mode to RGB. That saves file space too.

Once you’ve resized the image from your native print resolutions (often 6,000 x 4,000, or MUCH higher), you need to save as a format that will not corrupt the image nor take up too much space. JPEG files are still superb for this, but you don’t have to save everything at 10-12 quality. I recommend saving at quality 8. A file of 3K x 2K saved at 8 usually comes out to about 3MB, which is easy to email save.

Q. Does my picture book dummy need to be finished and in color?

No. If it is, great! But it can also be a picture book dummy in progress.

Q. What should I bring?

Please bring a printed (not digital) picture book dummy in progress, with b&w sketches. Make sure your sketches are clear enough that people can tell what is going on in each image. Dummies should be actual book size.

Please also bring:

1-2 finished art samples if you've decided on your final medium

some tracing paper

Q. What will we be doing during the hands-on workshopping period?

Be prepared to spend time redesigning and improving any problematic or challenging spread from your dummy.

Q. Will you be writing on my picture book dummies?

No. All feedback during the workshop will be verbal.

Q. Will everyone be seeing my work, or just Pat and Debbie?

Each workshop participant will be presenting their picture book dummy to the entire group (max. 15 participants). During the initial readings/presentations and depending on how many sign up, you'll each have about 5-6 minutes to briefly introduce yourself and present your dummy to the group. Purpose: to introduce you and your work to the others, and start the conversation for the day.

Pat and Debbie will also be offering individual/personal advice during the workshop.

Q. What format should my picture book dummy be in?

Your picture book dummy should be in print/paper format.

Q. What materials do I need to bring to the workshop?

You should bring:

- your picture book dummy

- note-taking tools (e.g. notebook, pen)

- blank paper or sketchbook and sketching tool (pencil is fine)

Optional: 1-2 finished samples, picture book manuscript with just the text, business cards and postcards to exchange with other participants.

Q. Is there a schedule?

Here's a rough schedule of the day to give you an idea of what to expect. Pat and Debbie may tweak here and there, depending on the needs of attendees:


Included in the day, when appropriate: The next step: Tips for getting your dummy into the hands of the right publisher.

9 am - Introduction

9:45 am - Story time: Present your dummy for guided group review and feedback.

11:15 am - Break

11:30 am - My Process: Constructing a dummy - Pat

12 pm - Lunch

1 pm - My Process: Constructing a dummy - Debbie

1:30 - Show & Tell - A group review and discussion of sample art from your dummy.

3 pm - Break

3:15 pm - Rethink, Revisit, Review: Receive one-on-one feedback from Pat & Debbie as you revise a spread or a page from your dummy.

Q. I'm a newbie when it comes to picture book dummies and submission formats. Can you recommend any useful resources?

Here are some useful resources:

An Illustrator's Guide To Creating A Picture Book - by Meghan McCarthy

Picture Book Dummy, Picture Book Construction: Know Your Layout - by Tara Lazar

How To Make A Picture Book Dummy in 9 Easy Steps - by Wendy Martin

Crafting A Picture Book Dummy (physical instructions) - by Leeza Hernandez

Making A Picture Book Dummy (physical instructions) - by Margaret Sturton

Creating Picture Books - by Debbie Ridpath Ohi


SCBWI's The Book: The Eseential Guide To Publishing For Children (free access for SCBWI members)

Harold Underdown's The Purple Crayon has a ton of great basic info for those new to children's book writing and illustrating.

Pat and Debbie will be adding more resource links here before the conference, so do check back!