Thursday, 30 May 2013

Making Little Red Riding Hood

I finally got round to the big task of creating my human character, Miss Hood!
I put this off for a long time as it's something I've been terrified of doing, and the process has involved a lot of risks, with little time to experiment and improve. As it stands, she is almost finished. Once I have her looking in a state I'm happy with I will take a few practice photos alongside my wolf, and the scenery, to see if anything needs changing to make her look better in context.
So, I began by creating the basic shape for her body. Instead of using wire alone, like the 'skeleton' of my wolf, I used part of an egg box to speed up the process, and avoid how fiddly using wire at such a tiny scale would be.
The focus at this point was mostly on the strength of the legs, and the shape and support of the feet so that the figure can stand easily...
Then I started making her clothes, and made sure her size was appropriate next to the wolf. I'm happy that she looks tiny and vulnerable next to him.
Next it was time to strengthen the body...
I made the decision to use mod roc because I wanted to add weight to the figure, and I also knew it would be possible to improve the shape quite easily with this material (i.e. building up curves slightly on the bottom and chest, and pulling in the waist while the egg box cardboard was dampened). I avoided placing mod roc over areas I want to be mobile, so the legs are still able to bend at the knee, and the arms will be constructed with a more flexible covering over the wire.
I was still very worried about how I was going to do the face! At such a small scale, it would be a challenge no matter what method I used. I considered building up the basic shape of the nose and cheeks with wire, then working over it in mod roc or paper mache, but it seemed too fiddly and with unpredictable results. It was time to try something new: plasticine! I made a trip to Fred Aldous to browse their selection of modelling clays. There were so many different kinds, I didn't know which one to pick; after a long time I settled on a small pack of skin coloured Staedtler 'Fimo soft' modelling clay.
This was my first time using this material in my illustration work, and I had very little confidence when approaching the face construction. It felt impossible at first; I was just squashing the clay into the hollow gap I'd left and hoping it would somehow shape into an adorable character. I was unsure if I'd be able to achieve a realistic style, or whether I should deliberately simplify her features. I attempted the former with a picture of a girl's profile silhoette as reference.
[Girl's profile silhoette by Darren Whittingham]
This basic picture really helped with shaping. I added clay to the top of the head and managed to mould the nose and chin (quite well for a first try I think!) I tried to do this quickly-I thought if I spent too much time messing around with the face shape I might spoil it and frustrate myself trying to make it perfect.
She was ready for the oven! I baked the figure at roughly 100 degrees c for 30 minutes. It was hard to find information on whether it was safe to bake mod roc, so I kept rushing to the oven nervously to check it hadn't cracked, but thankfully it came out fine! And the plasticine was solid and ready to paint.
The colour of the plasticine seemed a bit too dark for how I wanted the complexion, so I mixed a paler colour from acrylic paint for her head and shoulders.
The hardest part was tentatively painting the features of the face. I kept having to wipe off the paint and going over it again, but I'm pleased with how she looked at the end of the day.
Once she has arms and hands to hold her basket full of grandma goodies, I'll be almost ready! 


  1. You should really purchase a copy of my girls profile silhouette if it is going to be used in this way, Naughty! lol. That said, im glad it helped you with your project

  2. Sincere apologies, I'm normally very good at referencing but I did neglect to on this occasion! I have now linked it to you so you are properly credited (hope that's ok). It was very helpful :D