When Ruby was Blue | Skillshare Projects

Emily D. Myers

Armed with all the charm of a small town death



When Ruby was Blue

    These are very sketchy tumbnails for a 32 page spread for a picture book.  I used Shaun Tan's work as inspiration for the layout, look, and feel, especially The Red Tree, and The Lost Thing:

All Layouts:

When Ruby was Blue


Letting go of despair is about creating something new out of it.

External Conflict:

She's drawn herself into the underworld, and must create/discover a new way out, because drawing isn't going to work this time.  It's what used to keep her safe, but is what got her in this situation.

Internal Conflict:

Not giving up the memory of her mother.

Character wants / needs:

Character wants to be loved.  Character needs to move on.


Story points of When Ruby was Blue

  • Once upon a time,

There was a little girl named Ruby, who was mourning the death of her mother.

  • And everyday,

She coped with her despair through drawing.  This helped her remember her mother and dull the pain of the reality without her.

  • Until one day,

She unintentionally draws herself into the underworld to search for her dead mother.  While sitting on her bed, drawings strewn around her and with a pad of paper and pencil in her hand, the floor beneath her crumbles.

  • And because of this,

(She journey’s across the underworld.  Every landscape she encounters represents a question and answer of death as she passes through.  The landscapes are a creation of her drawings afterall, so she is answering her own questions)

She falls into a deep, dark passage way of doors and stairways, that she navigates through.

(thoughts on burial)

  • And because of this,

She finds a door, which leads to a boat on the river Styx.  She crosses the river to an island.

(thoughts on  where we go when we die)

  • And because of this,

She finds and climbs a family tree with dead ancestor’s portraits.  She reaches the top, reaching for her mother’s portrait, who she’s been searching for on this phsycological voyage.  She finds peace only for a moment, and then is reminded of a memories of her mother.  The memory is a day in the life where her mother taught her how to draw swans, and the second memory is of her drawing swans by herself, because her mother has passed away and is no longer there to accompany her on her lonely days.

  • And because of this,

The memory distracts her, and she loses her balance dropping the portrait, which gets damaged and torn.  

  • Until finally,

She takes the photograph, and folds it into an origami swan, transforming the broken picture into something new and beautiful.  The swan grows and transforms into a real swan, which flies her home, out of the underworld, a metaphor for her own despair.

  • Ever since that day,

She creates something beautiful out of a broken past.  She gives up drawing to create paper sculptures, metaphor for giving up a destructive way of coping and lamenting the past for something constructive.  She has realized her power to create something beautiful out of a broken past.


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