Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mr. Pig Visits . . . Stephanie Ruble

Hello, picture book fans! It is aye, Mr. Pig. Do I have a treat for you today! Author-illustrator Stephanie Ruble, has asked me to visit her studio -- and EWE, er, I mean YOU are invited to come along. So hurry up, we don't want to be late. . . . 
Stephanie's debut picture book, EWE AND AYE, received rave reviews. EWE is a sheep with a feel for wheels. AYE is a lemur with a thing for wings. I brought my copy with me. I hope she'll sign it!

From EWE AND AYE by Candace Ryan. Illustration copyright 2015 by Stephanie Ruble.

From EWE AND AYE by Candace Ryan. Illustration copyright 2015 by Stephanie Ruble.

Oh! Here we are at Stephanie's house. Step right up. Don't be ... sheepish. (Hardehar.)
<<Knock, knock.>>

SR: Hello! Welcome, Mr. Pig and friends! Come on in. 

MP: Thanks for having us, Stephanie. We can't wait to see your studio.

SR: I call it my Art Cave. Take a look. I'm using a card table for a desk right now because my old desk, which you can see next to the table, doesn't work well with my laptop. It worked well when I had a desktop computer, but now I use it mostly as a bookcase. I needed a bookcase, so that worked out well. Now I need a new desk! 

I actually picked out a new desk a couple of years ago, but we've moved twice since then and will most likely be moving again soon. Waiting to see what our new place is like before I get my new desk. 

MP: Wow, your Art Cave is so tidy.
SR: My space isn't usually quite so clean. (I straightened things up a bit for you.) It's usually more like organized chaos. What you don't see are my scanner and my printer. They're not that interesting, so you're not missing anything, promise.

MP: What's this fun area over here?

SR: This is my old desk. It has a keyboard tray, which I slid out for your visit. The keyboard tray is a really handy place to put picture books to look at for inspiration. The books keep changing, depending on what I'm working on and what inspires me that week. To the right of the desk is a tabouret which has drawers where I keep art supplies.

MP: Are these your copies of your picture book EWE AND AYE?

SR: Yes. My old desk has an enclosed space below that I use as a bookcase now. It's also where I'm currently keeping copies of my book, EWE AND AYE. It has space for a shelf, but it didn't come with a shelf. If there was a shelf, it would have more books on it!  

MP: Look at those cute little guys.

SR: On top of my old desk are some drawers for filing things and an organizer for holding pens, papers, postcards, bookmarks, etc. It's a great place for my finger puppets to hang out. 

MP: Now I wish I had fingers.

MP: Oooh, what's on top of your old desk?

SR: A box that shows animals at a circus. I got it when I was really little. It has a matching garbage can with animals in the jungle. There are toys inside the circus box! Next to the box is a stack of notebooks and a great reference book for picture book writers (WRITING WITH PICTURES by Ann Whitford Paul).

MP: Have you kept anything else from when you were a kid?

SR: Actually, yes! On top of the tabouret, there's a cup with animals on it that I got when I was little. I keep other items there, too -- pens and markers that I use regularly, some fun magnets, a picture of a painting by one of my favorite painters ('Blue Horses' by Franz Marc), and a copy of my book in case I need it for reference when asked questions about the art or story. I wouldn't have thought I'd need it so much for reference, but it's amazing how much fades when the art is done a year before the book comes out.

MP: Aha! I spy your art! 

SR: You do. On that second card table next to my desk, I keep paper for drawing, and a stack of art to file. I'm not great about filing art and sketches after I finish them, but I do try to keep it all in one place. This pile is actually quite small, which makes me wonder what happened to the other art that used to be out on the table. I think I filed it. I hope so, otherwise there will be a missing art mystery! 

MP: *Gasp!* Really?!

SR: Um, no. I just wanted an excuse to say "missing art mystery," but things do go missing once in a while when you're busy and not paying attention to where you put things.

SR: I do a lot of digital art, but I love to a paint. (I actually majored in painting in college.) I still like to get out my paints and have fun. In this picture, I was working on two paintings: 'Carpe Diem' and 'Crabbe Diem.'

MP: That's some clever wordplay. Just like in your new book, EWE AND AYE. Can you tell us about it?

SR: Sure. EWE AND AYE was written by Candace Ryan. Ewe is a sheep with a feel for wheels. Aye is a lemur with a thing for wings. But it isn’t until Ewe and Aye find one another that things really get off the ground. 

MP: The Cottagers love this story about celebrating togetherness -- and we love ewe. (Sorry. I just can't stop myself.) Thank you, Stephanie, for the tour of your colorful, inspiring Art Cave. 

SR: Thanks for visiting me, Mr. Pig!


Stephanie Ruble has been drawing and painting since she could hold a crayon. Soon after that, she started telling stories to go with her drawings. Not much has changed since then. If you look hard you can see many of her early creative influences (animals - especially cows, toys, newspaper comic strips, Halloween), poking through the layers of her writing and art. Visit Stephanie online at

by Candace Ryan, illustrated by Stephanie Ruble
Disney Hyperion, December 2014
ISBN 1-978-142317591-9

EWE was a sheep with a feel for wheels. AYE was a lemur with a thing for wings. But it wasn't until Ewe and Aye found one another that things really got off the ground.

"Ryan's punning is nicely expanded in Ruble's zippy illustrations.... Lots of fun." --Kirkus

"The goggle-wearing animals in their heart-soled sneakers are expressive and charming.... The wordplay is clever, and the art is sweet." --School Library Journal

"But the real attraction is debut illustrator Ruble--she brings an exuberant energy to each scene." --Publishers Weekly

"Positive and inspirational, this will strike a chord with young readers who have big dreams." --Booklist



  1. Thanks for the tour! Do you scan in those drawings we saw in the second last photo? Or are those sketches you use to work out the illustration, before doing all the actual art digitally? I can't find any tips for illustrators on scanning your sketches and cleaning them up for printing or digital coloring. 'Hoping you have some good tips or resources. Thanks, Cottagers!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Joanne! Yes, I scan in the drawings, unless I'm painting them or coloring traditionally. My process is not always the same. It depends on each piece or project, and also how clean the scanned image is. The image on the top (with the sheep and the street scene) was scanned in and not cleaned up before coloring. The image on the bottom was scanned in and cleaned up, then colored.

      I've never learned how to clean up art the right way (if there is a right way). I muddle through with trying different things in Photoshop. They don't always work well. So I'm probably the wrong person to ask.

      That said, my tip is to check out comic and graphic novel artists to see what they do for cleaning up inks. That's where I got a few tips that have helped me to muddle through. (I'm going to do this again when I have more time - there has to be a better way to clean up files). There may be tips or tutorials for comics that could be applied to illustration. I'd start by looking at Kazu Kibuishi's site. He had a lot of good info on his site the last time I checked. .

      Good luck!

    2. Wow! Good idea. Kibuishi's work is wonderful, but I haven't been to his site. Thanks. Yes, I keep thinking, "Isn't this supposed to be saving me some time?" Anyway, thanks for your input. It's much appreciated. We'll be looking for Ewe and Aye.

    3. Thank you, Joanne! I hope you like Ewe and Aye! :)

  2. I loved your interview, Stephanie, and getting to see your working space. Huge congratulations to you on EWE and AYE! And hooray for the wonderful reviews! Especially the one from Publisher's Weekly.

  3. I love seeing your studio! It must have been so nice to have Mr. Pig visit. :-)

    1. Thank you! Yes, it was nice to have Mr. Pig visit. The Art Cave can get lonely sometimes, so it's nice to have a friend drop by. ;)


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