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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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Back to HOW RUBY ROSE WAS CREATED, PART 1 - Part 2 - Part 3


(Last updated May 14, 2016)

While Debbie was doing research, she noticed that Rob Sanders mentioned on his website that RUBY ROSE had been inspired by his great-niece Madi. She asked Rob for some reference photos, and based aspects of the picture book Ruby Rose on these photos:

Meanwhile, because Ruby Rose liked to dance so much in the story, Debbie visited places in Toronto to watch young people dancing.

Like the Canadian National Ballet School:

and Pegasus Studios (thank you to Artistic Director, Jane Davis-Munro):

Before the children arrived at Pegasus Studios, Debbie did some dancing as well!

Then Debbie started drawing. She drew many, many sketches. She sketched at home. She sketched at the library. She sketched in coffee shops.

Here's a photo of her Ruby Rose sketches while she was at an airport, waiting for a flight:

Debbie did these Ruby Rose character sketches while she was waiting at the hairdresser's:

Debbie's early sketches were VERY rough:

In the photo above, you can see one of Debbie's first sketches for the opening spread in RUBY ROSE, OFF TO SCHOOL SHE GOES, of the little girl in bed. 

Here's another early sketch of that scene:

When she had a more polished sketch for this and other illustrations in RUBY ROSE, Debbie sent them to her editor and art director at HarperCollins (originally Maria Modugno and Martha Rago, but then Margaret Anastas and Jeanne Hogle).

Margaret Anastas and Jeanne Hogle at HarperCollins.

Then they all had a phone meeting about what worked and what didn't work, what could be changed to help improve the book. Here are some of the notes that Debbie made:

As Debbie finished certain stages in each drawing, she hung it up on her office ceiling so she could always look up and see the overall progress and check how well the story flowed in illustration:

And here is how that first opening bedroom scene looked in the final book:

Continued in Part 3