Illustrating an eBook

ebook, dinosaur, dinos, bob ostrom, julia dweck, amazon

I’ve been working with author Julia Dweck on an eBook about dinosaurs. We’ve been having tons of fun with this book and it should be coming out any minute now. Here’s a quick behind the dino-scenes look at how to illustrate a dino-eBook.

Illustrating an eBook step 1:

This book is a based on a poem about dinosaurs.  The theme for this particular page was about a dino party at night. I wasn’t quite sure where to go with it so I sat down with my iPad and started sketching. As you can see my initial sketch is pretty rough but loosely blocking things in allows me play around, have some fun and not get too attached to the drawing. After trying a few different directions I decided to go with a dino-pool party.

Rough ipad dinosuar sketch by Bob Ostrom
Rough sketch done on the iPad

Illustrating an eBook step 2:

I was pretty happy with the rough so I printed out a version so I could trace and clean up. I work with super-cheap copy paper… mostly because it’s super cheap. Sometimes I go directly from the iPad to Illustrator but in this case I was having a little trouble getting the exact look I wanted. Whenever that happens I throw down a fresh piece of paper and grab a pencil. I guess I’m just an old school guy because pencil on paper never fails.

dinosaur pool party sketch by Bob Ostrom
The final sketch of the dinosaur pool party. Done it red pencil, scanned to photoshop and cleaned up a bit.

Illustrating an eBook step 3:

The next step is to drag everything into Adobe Illustrator and create the line art. It’s all done on layers because as you know there are about 37 different types of e-readers out there and they come in all shapes and sizes. That means we’ll probably need to shift things around to fill pages better when the proportions change. Having things on layers makes that A LOT easier.

Adobe Illustrator line art by Bob Ostrom Studio
Line art is created in Adobe Illustrator.

Illustrating an eBook step 4:

Once the line work is complete the illustration is colored in Illustrator and then assembled with text in InDesign. Even though I had roughed out the book in advance I thought this illustration looked better flopped. That’s the beauty of using tools like Illustrator and InDesign they are super flexible and allow you to make changes on the fly (of course depending how fussy you are that can be a double edged sword). You young whippersnappers out there with your fancy technology will not appreciate the magnitude but to us old timers being able to make changes as you go is something we used to only dream about. So that’s my story. From here it’s off to Julia for review then straight to production. If all goes well you’ll be hearing about the release of this book very soon. Thanks for reading.

dinosaur pool party illustration by Bob Ostrom
Flopping the final illustration using Adobe InDesign.

How to Draw a Cat by Bob Ostrom

bob ostrom filming how to draw lessons at burning oak studios

How to draw a cat.

Here is a little video for anyone who loves cats and loves drawing. I did this one down at Burning Oak Studio down in Raleigh a few years ago. I had a great time shooting these. I was a little nervous when I first went in because I had no idea what I was doing but the folks in the studio were great and helped me figure out which end of the marker to draw with and other things that seem so natural when the camera isn’t rolling.

We shot these videos over a couple of days and at the end of the first day I quickly realized it wouldn’t be a bad idea to actually have a few things prepared to say while I was drawing. So, I went home that night and worked on a little script I would use for each of the drawings the following day. I imagined the witty banter I would toss about as I appeared completely relaxed drawing away in a carefree, happy go lucky studio environment. I imagined being the envy of artists everywhere.

Flash forward to day two. Lights on, cameras rolling, me clumsily clutching my pencil for dear life with sweaty palms, a giant shiny forehead and a neon orange shirt…..And Action! Oh no…My mind goes blank. All the witty banter, all the carefree happy go lucky dialog flies right out the window and it’s just me in my orange shirt with a marker and some paper. Wait, what’s my name? Where’s my website?

The guys at Burning Oak, Rob and Matt, were great. They stopped cameras, calmed me down, clowned around a little and got things back on track. It’s funny how something as simple as,  My name is Bob Ostrom and you can find me at Bob Ostrom ends up being five takes.




Adobe Photoshop Tip – Working with Smart Objects in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Working With Smart Objects

image right clicking smart objects

I’m not going to go into all kinds of details about Smart Objects this is just a quick tip I hope some of you will find useful. Recently I was working on some files for a client. It was a sizable project with lots of little moving pieces. Somewhere along the way I lost a couple of Illustrator files that went with the project. Because of a tight deadline I didn’t have time to track down the missing .ai files. As luck would have it I did however have them placed in a Photoshop file as Smart Objects.

Here’s the really great thing about Smart Objects, by right clicking the layer in Photoshop you can edit and save them in Illustrator.

Here’s how it works:

• Open your Photoshop document.

• Find the layer with the Smart Object you want to convert.

• Right click the layer.

• Select Edit Contents from the sub-menu.

• The Smart Object will be opened in illustrator.

• Make corrections to the vector art if you have any

• Save the illustrator file someplace you won’t lose it next time

• High five yourself for saving tons of time and being super tech savvy.



*Special thanks to my buddy George Coghill for his excellent advice.


To Learn more about Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign come see me at:

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