Exercise 2 -Once Upon a Time

Exercise 2 – fairytales

Some of the older illustrations for fairy tales are magical, so I approached this exercise by doing some research on the illustrations I recall seeing in my childhood and those that are catching my attention as an adult.

As they have to be in black and white for this exercise, I wanted to ensure that the illustrators used for inspiration had most of their own work done in this manner too, so I could benefit from their wisdom and how they used it to best effect.

From my own observations, the older editions of fairy tales were a little more graphic in their depiction of terror.  In the research done on Franz Kafka, the story was more dramatic and psychological, so the target audience was not for children.

The Brothers Grimm published collected fairy tales that were stories passed down from region to region during the 19th century.  These were often cautionary tales told through stories, to warn others of places and people and act as a deterrent for certain behaviours.  A lot of the stories originated in France and Germany and were word of mouth.  The brothers wrote down these tales and for the purpose of marketing them, adjusted some of the horrors in them.  Hansel and Gretel were eaten by the witch in the original tales, while over the years we find that they escaped their horrific death.

The books of Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis often had accompanying illustrations.  My own childhood books were handed down versions from the 1960’s and 1970’s.  These are no longer with me sadly, but the illustrations remain with me because they were black and white and looked like they were engraved or a dip pen image.

Later on, with the Roald Dahl books, Quentin Blake brought The Twits to life for me, and they made me laugh out loud.  They were a well crafted illustration with the scratchiest line and I loved them.  The illustrations in the St.Trinian books were also captivating and although the movie was observed first, the title sequences introduced me to Ronald Searle.

For this exercise, as the illustrations were for a fairy tale and so the target audience would be young children, I wanted the images to be inspired by the liveliness of Henry J Ford and Rene Bull but retain a fun and humorous element similar to Quentin Blake or Ronald Searle. 

Key words for the illustration:

Fairy tale, black and white, once upon a time, series, folktale

Ideas generated:

Fairy tale              = Cinderella, snow white, beauty and the beast, castles, princes, horses, blue, pink,     flowers, brambles, thorns, fairy godmothers,

Black and white = lino printing, clear, negative space, line drawing, medieval art, Aubrey Beardsley (art noveau), contrast, hatching, old illustrations, shades of grey, watercolour

Once upon…       = stories, kids, tales, castles, good vs evil, dramatic, beauty, old, weddings, outcome positive.

Series                    = sequence, same, similar, thread, consistent, theme the same

Folktale                = company of wolves, haunting, forests, medieval, advice, caution, lesson, moral, good vs evil

Fairy tale chosen:             Little Red Riding Hood

Key characters:                 LRRH, The Wolf and Grandmother (in some editions there’s a Woodcutter)

Key moments:                   LRRH walking on her own/wolf stalking her/meeting the wolf

Other key moments:      wolf eats grandmother/wolf dresses as grandmother/LRRH kills wolf

Inspiration board

Story script from the German folk tale of Little Red Cap:

Little Red Cap

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Once upon a time there was a sweet little girl. Everyone who saw her liked her, but most of all her grandmother, who did not know what to give the child next. Once she gave her a little cap made of red velvet. Because it suited her so well, and she wanted to wear it all the time, she came to be known as Little Red Cap.

One day her mother said to her, “Come Little Red Cap. Here is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine. Take them to your grandmother. She is sick and weak, and they will do her well. Mind your manners and give her my greetings. Behave yourself on the way, and do not leave the path, or you might fall down and break the glass, and then there will be nothing for your sick grandmother.”

Little Red Cap promised to obey her mother. The grandmother lived out in the woods, a half hour from the village. When Little Red Cap entered the woods a wolf came up to her. She did not know what a wicked animal he was, and was not afraid of him.

“Good day to you, Little Red Cap.”

“Thank you, wolf.”

“Where are you going so early, Little Red Cap?”

“To grandmother’s.”

“And what are you carrying under your apron?”

“Grandmother is sick and weak, and I am taking her some cake and wine. We baked yesterday, and they should give her strength.”

“Little Red Cap, just where does your grandmother live?”

“Her house is a good quarter hour from here in the woods, under the three large oak trees. There’s a hedge of hazel bushes there. You must know the place,” said Little Red Cap.

The wolf thought to himself, “Now there is a tasty bite for me. Just how are you going to catch her?” Then he said, “Listen, Little Red Cap, haven’t you seen the beautiful flowers that are blossoming in the woods? Why don’t you go and take a look? And I don’t believe you can hear how beautifully the birds are singing. You are walking along as though you were on your way to school in the village. It is very beautiful in the woods.”

Little Red Cap opened her eyes and saw the sunlight breaking through the trees and how the ground was covered with beautiful flowers. She thought, “If a take a bouquet to grandmother, she will be very pleased. Anyway, it is still early, and I’ll be home on time.” And she ran off into the woods looking for flowers. Each time she picked one she thought that she could see an even more beautiful one a little way off, and she ran after it, going further and further into the woods. But the wolf ran straight to the grandmother’s house and knocked on the door.

“Who’s there?”

“Little Red Cap. I’m bringing you some cake and wine. Open the door for me.”

“Just press the latch,” called out the grandmother. “I’m too weak to get up.”

The wolf pressed the latch, and the door opened. He stepped inside, went straight to the grandmother’s bed, and ate her up. Then he took her clothes, put them on, and put her cap on his head. He got into her bed and pulled the curtains shut.

Little Red Cap had run after flowers, and did not continue on her way to grandmother’s until she had gathered all that she could carry. When she arrived, she found, to her surprise, that the door was open. She walked into the parlor, and everything looked so strange that she thought, “Oh, my God, why am I so afraid? I usually like it at grandmother’s.” Then she went to the bed and pulled back the curtains. Grandmother was lying there with her cap pulled down over her face and looking very strange.

“Oh, grandmother, what big ears you have!”

“All the better to hear you with.”

“Oh, grandmother, what big eyes you have!”

“All the better to see you with.”

“Oh, grandmother, what big hands you have!”

“All the better to grab you with!”

“Oh, grandmother, what a horribly big mouth you have!”

“All the better to eat you with!” And with that he jumped out of bed, jumped on top of poor Little Red Cap, and ate her up. As soon as the wolf had finished this tasty bite, he climbed back into bed, fell asleep, and began to snore very loudly.

A huntsman was just passing by. He thought it strange that the old woman was snoring so loudly, so he decided to take a look. He stepped inside, and in the bed there lay the wolf that he had been hunting for such a long time. “He has eaten the grandmother, but perhaps she still can be saved. I won’t shoot him,” thought the huntsman. So he took a pair of scissors and cut open his belly.

He had cut only a few strokes when he saw the red cap shining through. He cut a little more, and the girl jumped out and cried, “Oh, I was so frightened! It was so dark inside the wolf’s body!”

And then the grandmother came out alive as well. Then Little Red Cap fetched some large heavy stones. They filled the wolf’s body with them, and when he woke up and tried to run away, the stones were so heavy that he fell down dead.

The three of them were happy. The huntsman took the wolf’s pelt. The grandmother ate the cake and drank the wine that Little Red Cap had brought. And Little Red Cap thought to herself, “As long as I live, I will never leave the path and run off into the woods by myself if mother tells me not to.”

A variety of styles were produced

The key character for this series, the wolf, was designed in Procreate to give the impression of a lino cut print.  A variety of brush pens, pencils and textures were then introduced to see what effect they would have.  As an alternative, I added a Victorian flourish in an oval design and then created a decorative ornate feature in a soft rectangle effect using created images from the period.

Overall however, on review, the images that were most successful for me were 1, 2 and 3.  I like the backgrounds for the wolf and the decorative feature in image 1, while I enjoy the simple layout without any background and a hint of texture in erratic lines to indicate the danger present.

As an alternative, a red screen was applied to see how it would look in the primary colour featured in the story.  I actually really like it.


Wiki (2021) – Henry Justice Ford


[Accessed 19.07.2021]

Irish Comics Wiki (2021) – Rene Bull


[Accessed 19.07.2021]

Franz Hein – Mermaid in a Fish Pond


[Accessed 19.07.2021]

Little Red Riding Hood Story (2021) Primary School(for comparison on language and images)

[Accessed 31.07.2021]

Little Red Cap (2021) education site


[Accessed 31.07.2021]