Hi! It’s been a year since “O Protesto do Lobo Mau” was published and I thought it would be interesting to make my first post about the process of illustrating and designing it! (You can see the full ebook online in portuguese)
So, this book is the result of the 2019 Pingo Doce Children´s Literature Award (click to find more info about this competition and previous winners books!).
Maria Leitão won the text category and based on her story I made the illustrations that won the illustration category.
Let’s start with the beginning of the process! The Part 1 will cover the process of what I have done before entering the competition until receiving the notification I won!
Finding the universe!
After reading the story I knew instantly some points I wanted to explore.
I knew I wanted to:
- Explore the idea of identity
- Focus on the journey of finding something
- Everything in this story can be something at one moment and be another thing later, cause like in life, this is how things happen.
- This is for kids and for their parents. The illustrations need to tell two stories!
(I could see myself and some people I know in that Wolf, so I thought people could easily relate)
For me it was really about personal growth! So I started to figure out how could I find this “Bad Wolf”.
I started with drawing wolves (of course!). Just a reminder I never illustrated a story before ( or anything outside my sketchbooks) so I wasn’t initially worried about style or method!
The first drawings looked bland. I knew right away that this character was a wolf because he believed to be a wolf.
So I decided on the first thing about this project: “This is someone with a wolf mask!”
So I continued to draw, looking for character and style that I felt was right. I wanted the mask to appear as if made by a child, quite handmade like a quick sketch. For me, the handcrafted mask reminded me of the masks we build for ourselves throughout our lives. Overall, I wanted to play with the idea of categorization and identity and how we live with our own masks.
I worked between digital and analogue in order to maintain my creativity flowing and to find new expressive characteristics.
So I started to draw the scenery, first the forest…
In the initial sketches, I was really focused on experimenting with light. I kind of saw the story being connected with the passage of the day. In one of the first sentences of the story, we are told “The sun was high…”, therefore, I wanted to explore this relation between the sun, the passage of the day and the journey of the wolf. I was also experimenting different papers and collage to try to achieve a texture more manual and closer to wood!
Then I needed to start to sketch the two other characters and I need to be honest here, it took a while to figure out how to create this Little Red Riding Hood Bear and the “know-it-all” Frog.
The Bear had a lot of personality! I didn’t knew exactly how I wanted to portrait it. So… for the ones who don’t know the story! This bear strongly believes he is Little Red Riding Hood, and this is really interesting for the story!
Firstly, because he has the courage to be whoever he wants and that is the overall message of the book!
Secondly, He is strongly convinced he is someone else and that’s exactly how the wolf feels about himself. The wolf becomes very upset about the Bear (you can’t be upset about a person, it’s either upset about something – a persons’s actions – or with someone), when they have this confrontation, so I naturally thought : Yeah I know… Too close from home, right wolf?
So I needed some kind of balance between being a bit stage and completely natural at the same time!
At this stage, I really needed to understand how these two characters would look next to each other. So I did some experiments in order to find a style that could unify this universe.
So I decided to stop a bit… I didn’t know how could I made these two characters look visually closer to each other.
Without finding the answer I needed, I moved to sketching the Frog, hoping to find visual similarities and characteristics between them. After that it would be easier to find the right shape for the Bear!
For a quick context, the Frog appears saying he is also Little Red Riding Hood, but after being swallowed by the Wolf he turns into a lawyer!
I really liked the geometric lines I combined between the Wolf and the Frog, so I tested other situations where they could interact. I decided to make the “Wolf Pack” scene:
At this point I decided, Geometric lines will definitely serve as the link between all the book!
Also, I really liked this color palette! (Image above left) The red has been present since the beginning, but seeing it next to the black, white and yellow seem to give it the roughness and bold style I felt the story needed! The analogue materials and the digital really start to feel part of the same world (and that was really a strong concern I had). Back to testing…
When I saw the bright yellow background, the red mask, the black and white combined with manual textures I got excited! That was it!
I made a lot of manual textures (with acrylic, chinese ink, markers, coloured pencils and chalk) and tried to make the final images to send to the competition! Everything started to fit together (Even the Bear!!)
Of course in the back of my head, I thought “Well… this are not the easiest colors for a children’s book and the Wolf is not quite a Wolf, and if I’m being really honest… the Frog looks a bit like a toaster or a lunch box… but why not? I’m gonna take the risk! This makes sense!“
So I did it! This last two illustrations (above) were the final versions I submitted to the contest. I made in total 6 illustrations.
This process was really exciting for me, because I never did anything similar before. Of course seeing those now, they certainly need a lot of editing, but even today I like them and I really, really like the expression of the Wolf, it’s great!
So this is the Part 1, hope you all enjoy and if you have any questions please go ahead!
Send me an email in the contact section or a Dm through my instagram!
The Part 2 will be about the process of making the final illustrations and design the book!
See you soon!