Little Red Sketch

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    I'm working on a piece for the Tomie Depaola SCBWI challenge, I really hope that I'll be able to get it done in time. With visiting my family for Thanksgiving I don't know how much time I'll be able to spend on this, so I'm trying to work quickly and keep things simple.

    This is my sketch so far. I'm imagining a vignetted piece without anything complex in the background to distract from the characters. I wanted to explore a bit of a different moment than has been seen in most illustrated versions of the story. I decided to show the moment that Little Red first tries the hood she becomes known for. Its is often skipped because it isn't really a active moment in the story, but I thought it was important one for her as a character.

    Any suggestions on the composition, anatomy, gesture? Or anything at all, but those are the things I am most wanting help with.


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    I just started working on a piece for that challenge as well! It will be great to see that moment illustrated 🙂 I chose to illustrate the moment when she meets the wolf...because I want to try drawing a wolf, lol. Looking forward to seeing your progress on this piece!

  • looking good Sarah, I like how your connect their relationship with eyeglasses if i make any sense at all haha. I like the simplicity to be honest and I think it is working well.

  • @Sarah-LuAnn I can't see anything negative. I think its what your aiming for, very readable and simple, and the characters have great expression. RED is really happy with her hood. I think you've applied the assignment really well. Very nice! now go and put some colors, were all curious!

  • I love the moment in the story you've chosen! I feel little red's pose is a little too stagnant. I sew for my girls and when they try on the item for the first time, they all immediately hold onto the dress/skirt and pull it out so they can look at it. And then they spin. It must be a girl thing. The other thing they do right away is look in a mirror--while holding it out and spinning. It makes it very difficult to make sure everything fits right. I suggest you have red in a more dynamic pose---like spinning or holding the ends of the cape out, perhaps even while looking in the mirror.

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    @Joy-Heyer I did actually have her holding the cloak out at first, and then as the sketch evolved I dropped it. I may experiment with working that back in, I agree that it would add a bit more to her excited reaction to the cloak.

    @Naroth-Kean I'm glad you saw the glasses connection! When I was little I was always confused about how Little Red could see a wolf earlier in the day and mistake it for her beloved Granny a couple hours later--I mean, what? So I decided a long time ago that there was a simple solution--Little Red is near sighted, and the wolf stole her glasses before he ran off. Bam! Plot hole explained 😉

  • @Sarah-LuAnn great explanation for glasses, and I love the feeling of the little girl's excitement for her adventure!

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    I agree with playing with the pose a bit to loosen up her gesture too. Otherwise, I love the moment you pick and the connection with the grandmother tying her bow. It's delicate and sweet.

  • @Sarah-LuAnn
    Ok. (deep breath) I'm going to be the poison pill here.

    I want to make it explicitly clear that this is NOT any kind of crit of the drawing skill (or composition) level itself. But I read the link you provided and I think you will need to "dig deeper" on this one.

    Look again at the wording of this challenge/contest/whatever:

    " One of the biggest and most important challenges the Children’s Book Illustrator faces, over and over again, is the UNIQUE VISUALIZATION of the MAIN CHARACTER.
    So often, I have seen illustrators resort to generic depictions of the star of the story–too “designed,” too ordinary, too much like characters already seen in media, especially on TV and video games.
    Your task is to make me “FALL IN LOVE” with your illustration and especially with Red Riding Hood. I want to “meet her” for the first time."

    To be frank, I have no idea how I, personally, would tackle this. But it's clear they are looking for something new I don't think they just mean: a scene that hasn't been illustrated yet but with the same old character concepts.

    You mentioned that this is the "first time" she tries on the hood. Putting aside the question as to whether that's really the unique angle they are looking for, what part of your particular piece suggests that this is the first time?

    To me, it simply looks like her mother could be getting her ready for the Nth time. If you changed nothing else about your character concepts (which I think you should--again, NOT because they are drawn poorly and NOT because this wouldn't make a good children's book image--but because they are looking for something really different) you should more clearly indicate "first time."

    Maybe you could show the girl happy/surprised and taking out the hood from a box that the mother is giving her?

    This is probably the "harshest" crit I've given here but it's really only because I think you have the skill to pull it off and submit something the judges will be impressed with.

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    @mattramsey That is a really good point Matt and I agree @Sarah-LuAnn definitely has the skills to dig deeper and pull off something really cool and unexpected. Go for it!! 😃

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    @mattramsey I agree with your challenge to Sarah on this - as you are just pushing her to really think about the actual request from Tomie in the challenge details. I also agree that Sarah is a fantastic artist which is why I think she can push this so much further as well.

    I had just finished reading the full contest details and was coming back here to reply when I saw your response.

    I was going to reply with questions to Sarah about this piece based on the challenge such as:

    • what makes this version of the main character uniquely yours and unlike other characters we have seen?

    • what about this image would make a viewer fall in love with this character?

  • I agree with Matt. Your drawing skills are undeniable. What if you had Red reaching up and touching her hood with a look of "oh wow" and grandma reacting with a laugh? Just an idea. @Lee-White in his class on storytelling talks about finding the moment before something is going to happen, during, or after as a basis for the illustration.

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    @Sarah-LuAnn This looks like a really interesting challenge! I'm not a member but I might have to have a go at the brief anyway. It is pretty tricky to make anything original with Red Riding Hood. If it was just "Red Riding Hood' then you could push it different ways (eg with her age/story context...I've actually been thinking about doing a Riding Hood piece for @Leontine's winter challenge...!) but since you've got text to follow which specifies her as a little girl, in the normal/expected context, there's not much room to move.

    But this is a great drawing, I like grandma's expression 🙂 Yeah, the gestures could be changed to make a better connection with the audience...I totally get why Riding Hood is looking down, but I think to make us fall in love with her, some eye contact either with the reader or Grandma, or somehow creating more detail or focus on the face (take advantage of those glasses to make the eyes look bigger?), would help really sell it.

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    Yes, doing something new with Little Red Riding Hood is a real challenge. I brainstormed a lot of different ideas--Little Red in different cultures or time periods (asian maybe??) but even though I thought of some unique ideas, I wasn't really excited to draw any of them. In the end, the only thing I was really excited to draw was MY Little Red-- the way I imagine her, with curly dark hair and big glasses. So it may not be the most original new unique idea, but its the one I want to do, which makes it the best one. 😉

    I appreciate all the nice comments and encouragement. Its time for an admission--gesture is something I have always, always struggled with, or just a sense of movement in general. My drawings tend to be kind of nice and fairly accurate, but static and stiff. I'm working on it, but it is HARD.

    So, here is an updated gesture for Little Red, though I didn't get all the values in--they'll be basically the same as before though. Better, worse? I'm hoping to find a pose/gesture I like so when I see my family next week I can have my niece pose for some reference, so I can get the anatomy and proportions at least a little closer to correct. 🙂


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    That gesture is better @Sarah-LuAnn - the arm holding the cloak out does help to illustrate her thoughts more 🙂 (also loving the beautifully drawn hand!)

  • It is lovely Sarah, and if you don't have time to make changes, this comp will be a good one. But I still feel you can push Red's personality more. I see a very calm and obedient girl in this picture. She just got a new cape! At the very least she would be looking at it. Right now she is looking at her grandmother's wrists (You can't see right under your chin very well...). And she is also being tied around the neck! When I put a tie on my son, he lifts his chin and complains. Would Red complain? Is that her personality? Or is she so excited she can barely hold still? Perhaps if you lift her arm and cape more and have her looking to her right at the beautiful red fabric... Or put a mirror behind the Grandma and have Red up on her toes trying to see herself in the mirror over her Grandma. Look at Disney Cinderella for examples. Here is one I found: Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 3.25.02 PM.png I hope that helps. I know you have time constraints. What you have is lovely and will work so I wouldn't worry if you don't have time now to make changes. Good luck!

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    I turned her head and tweaked some other things. Better, worse?

  • @Sarah-LuAnn turning the head made big difference in the gesture. I like where you are going with the lighting especially on the basket. The lighting on the face is a bit inconsistent with the rest of the scene. I think only her side plane would receive direct light from the right. Certainly her right eye would be in shadow sine the nose will block it. I love this and can't wait to see the final result. Good luck!

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    Oops, I just flipped the face in Photoshop and didn't fix the lighting when I did. I will definitely fix it when I do the final piece.

    I'm working on getting more comfortable in Photoshop, so I've been using it to sketch this, so the sketch has that digital paint look. However, I'm going to be completing this in Illustrator because that is what I am comfortable in and I don't want to try a process I'm not confident with for a piece that will be entered in a competition. I think my new years resolution for next year will be to get comfortable in Photoshop, maybe even make a new portfolio section on my website for Photoshop stuff if I feel like I have a good style figured out.

  • It's amazing how just turning the head gave Red so much more personality! Much better! Because you turned her face, you may want to consider changing the light source. Keep her face lit but change the lighting on everything else. Just a thought... Can't wait to see it painted!

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