I’m over the moon to have illustrated for OKIDO the crazy, clever and coolest art and science magazine for kids. So I thought I'd share with you the creative process behind the spread I created for Issue #31, the health issue.Okido invited me to drop by their office for an informal brainstorm. We discussed about how to create a double spread about health and safety. It would include electrocution, burning, flooding, getting cut with a knife, falling and more...Ouch! We talked about vintage health and safety posters, and the little rabbit that gets his hand stuck in the Parisian métro door. Now how to do this? 
A clever way to narrate this would be by introducing characters that would string the accidents together. And from this brainstorm were born Itch and Ouch, a cheeky pair who get themselves into scrapes. Itch is a cat, Ouch is a mouse. It was interesting to experiment with ears and whiskers to help animate and vary their facial expressions. And who doesn't like anthropomorphic characters?

In terms of design layout, I isolated each disaster within a vignette to create a comics inside a house. It starts with rain and ends with a sunny sky. Like Hansel and Gretel, Itch and Ouch enter a house, full of DISASTERS! You can see this in the thumbnails below. I thought of the graphic shape of road signs and how the triangle symbolises danger, an explosive shape could signify fire or electricity etc. Working in matchbox sized thumbnails is my favourite method of speedily working out the composition.
After deciding on my composition, I like to sketch on a layout pad the same drawing over and over again until I'm happy with the energy of a line. I start with pencil sketches and then use my light box to work on the black line. For this, I use a mix of ultra thin 0.03 pens, acrylic black paint and Japanese kanji pens. I stocked up on a handful when I was in Tokyo. My favourite stationary shop there is Tools which has a mouthwatering selection of pens. 

I then scan my black line and drop the colours in digitally on photoshop. Using colour still feels new to me and I'm really enjoying it. For the Itch and Ouch palette, I was inspired by retro post office stamps, Babar and Lego. Here are a few close-ups of accidents. Zip! Bam! Boom! Ouch!

As a little girl, I have happy memories of my mum buying me the French kids magazines Pomme d'Api and Astrapi. These were my very first comic mags. So it was like taking a trip down memory lane and being a kid again working with Okido. If you haven't read an Okido yet, the magazine is packed with stories, activities, games, doodles and even a recipe. I treated my 3 year old nephew to a subscription and he loves it! My illustrations are in issue 31 pages 34-35. Here's a link for Okido stockists.

And do you want to know the best thing of all? I'm currently illustrating a comic strip for issue 32 out later in November. Itch and Ouch will be back!


  1. Great job, I'm sure the kids will love Itch and Ouch! I loved by the way seeing your creative process, thanks :)

    Rosa Martin

    1. Hi Rosa, Thanks for your kind words. You've got a lovely blog. I love your RED RED ROSE illustration.

  2. This is beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing Emma.

    I'm an illustrator from the Philippines, and I've been a fan ever since I chanced upon your work a few months ago. I'm always on the lookout for illustrators to follow, to keep myself inspired and to learn. And it's always a joy and a great learning experience for me when other artists share their process and behind-the-scenes experiences.

    Great work as always! I'm looking forward to seeing more of your illustrations in the future. :)

    1. Thanks Lorra, all the way from the Philippines. What a nice message. I really like what you did with the blue door at Café Publico. Lovely work!

  3. Well done Emma! And Great job too! Thank you for sharing your working process and I really like the layout of having the comics panel inside the house. I really love the colour palette and I think my favourite illustration is Itch getting electrocuted! It just reminds me of Tom and Jerry cartoons.

    Great work and great post :)

    June Sees