Digital painting of Red Riding Hood characters in around a campfire at night with a werewolf watching from a waterfall in the background. Digital painting close up of Axewoman sitting on rock. Digital painting close up of Red Riding Hood sleeping on log. Digital painting close up of Werewolf at top of waterfall. Digital painting close up of campfire.

Everyone knows the story of Little Red Riding Hood - and most people would even be able to recognise the story from an illustration of the characters. This project turned that idea on its head by using illustration to change the story of a classic fairytale. Through concept art, I reimagined 3 characters (Little Red Riding Hood, the Axeman and the Wolf) from the classic fairytale, changing their physical appearance in a way that would completely rewrite the story.

I did this by changing Little Red Riding Hood into a man and the Axeman into an Axewoman, and making them a heroic duo who are hunting a werewolf who terrorises the lands. To convey this through concept art required exploring both the characters’ appearance and their setting, which would provide a context for the story. Through a process of development, iteration and exploration, I developed the final concept art of Red, the Axewoman and the Werewolf in a dark forest landscape (as seen above).

Red Riding Hood concepts.Concept art concepts for Axewoman.Werewolf concepts.Environment concepts - a tunnel of twisted trees, a snowy forest of dead pine trees, and a werewolf at the edge of a waterfall with a full moon in the background.

This whole process began with development sketches. I started by creating 3 distinctly different versions for each of the 3 characters, ensuring that Red and the Axewoman’s attire in each version matched so that that they would be visually connected and look like they are from the same setting. I also developed 3 setting ideas for the rendered pose, making them different but ensuring they posessed the dark and serious tone that I was trying to introduce to the story. Since I designed Red and the Axewoman as seasoned warriors, I needed to give them formiddable weaponry which would make them appear as such, so developed a number of concepts which could be used for the 3 versions I had created (weapons concepts pictured below).

I then selected the character designs which stuck out to me as fitting the dark theme the most, (which was the 2nd design for Red and the Axewoman and the 3rd for the Werewolf) and paired them with the most fitting weapon concepts. The next stage involved considering how to consolidate all of these elements into one composition. I decided to go with my third environment concept (above), and then began experimenting with colour and pose.

Red Riding Hood weapon concepts.Axewoman weapon concepts.Axewoman pose concepts.Red Riding Hood pose concepts.Werewolf pose concepts.

I decided to make the werewolf white, as I wanted the black eyes which made him more scary, and white fur made the eyes stand out more, as well as made him more unique than a lot of other werewolves (see below). Red had to have red cape in order to have the “Red Riding Hood” make sense, and while I did try some other colour variations (see below) I decided going with a black and grey as this made the red hood eye catching - which nicely fits with the character’s name. I decided to incorporate more colours with the Axewoman, as her character did not need any one colour to stand out, but I did want to create some unity between her and Red, so included red pants and black/grey armour. I also decided to give the Axewoman multiple axes - two strapped to her back and two which she could hold or hook onto her belt.

I did this for a few reasons. Firstly, I considered how her weapons would be used, and thought that if she had multiple axes, she could use some as projectiles and some for hand to hand combat. Secondly, adding more axes made her appear appear as though she would be quite deadly with an axe, and finally, it was fitting since her character was called the Axewoman.

Axewoman colour schemes.Environment colour schemes.Final Red Riding Hood and Axewoman designs.Red Riding Hood colour schemes.Werewolf colour schemes.

After I had finalised the designs, I created 3 different compositions using the poses I had created beforehand (see below). These compositions needed to include all 3 characters which could clearly be seen in a way that depicted a particular scene - I wanted to create a scene where Red and the Axewoman had set up camp for the night after a day of searching for the Werewolf, while, unbeknowest to them, the Werewolf is watching from afar, hunting them during the night. I ended up selecting my first concept (the middle composition seen below), as it made the Werewolf more obvious while giving Red and the Axewoman the tired and weary appearance of two protectors of the lands.

Using this composition, I created the rendered composition (seen at the top of this page) using the the colour palettes I had selected earlier. This was the final stage, but took over 40 hours as there was a lot of consideration needed for the lighting and shadows, and I had to find reference images for a number of aspects to ensure I painted them accurately.