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How to Create a Little Red Riding Hood Inspired Fairytale Illustration in Paint Tool SAI

I'm the owner and founder of PIT Designs. I love creating digital presence and creative digital solutions for our clients.

Posted 7 years ago on July 27th, 2016. Last modified on April 7th, 2022

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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Who doesn't like fairy-tale stories? I love them, and one of my favorites is "Little Red Riding Hood". The little girl who met the Big Bad Wolf in the forest—how did their encounter happen? Let's draw our own version of events.

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a colorful fairy-tale illustration. We'll go step by step from a sketch to the complete drawing, making charismatic characters and a fun background using Paint Tool SAI.

Let's begin!

1. Create Clean Line Art From the Sketch

Step 1

You can start by drawing your own sketch or take the one from the Attachment. 

After your sketch is ready, take a Pencil or a Crayon and start tracing the lines. You can either try these settings or experiment by yourself. By the way, using the Crayon or any other pen with textures different from the default will give you the feeling of working with a real pencil. 

Don't forget to turn down the opacity of the sketch layer. About 30-40% is enough.

Turning sketch into line art

Step 2

The line art of Little Red Riding Hood is ready. Notice that this line art has enough details and doesn't look overwhelmed by them.

Finished line art of the Little Red Riding Hood

Step 3

Continue drawing the background. For now, you can concentrate on the main shapes of the forest, without worrying too much about details. We'll work on these parts later.

And I gave to the wolf kind of a scary expression... because, really, he's the bad guy here.

Line art of the background and the wolf

Step 4

All we have to do at this stage is to choose the main color for the background. It's much easier to work on other colors this way, instead of working with a white background. Don't forget that the line art layer should stay on top of others for now.

Use the Bucket tool to quickly fill in the picture. I choose dark blue, because the forest and wolf should be in contrast with the bright girl.

Choosing color for background

2. Start Coloring the Picture

Step 1

Now the fun part begins! At this stage, always give yourself time to experiment with colors. Through trial and error, you'll find out what works best for the illustration.

Make additional layers beneath the layer with line art, and start to apply the main color areas with the Air Brush. Remember to create a separate layer for each color!

Choosing all primary colors

Step 2

See the difference between a blank and colored background? As the illustration shows a scene in a dark forest, we'll use pale, muted colors for the characters.

Creating all necessary layers

Step 3

Now let's add a glowing blue shadow behind the wolf. First, we need it to separate him from the background, and second, it shows us that main light source comes from the back, which is the Moon in this case.

Glowing around wolf

Step 4

We can start adding volume to the girl. Create the New Layer on top of the layer with the skin color, and create a Clipping Group. Add shadows under the hair, highlight the cheeks, and add details to the eyes.

To bring small areas of the illustration closer, use the Zoom tool from the instruments panel.

Zoom in to create volume

Step 5

Continue the same process, creating a new layer on the color area layer, creating a Clipping Group, and drawing volume and details. Stop when every part is done, and get ready to move on to drawing the wolf and background. I'll show you their process soon.

Painting the girl

Step 6

Now turn off the visibility of the other layers and use a soft lilac color to add additional highlights. I like this soft feeling that it adds to the illustration. You can try other colors as well, such as soft orange or purple, which should also look fine here.

Applying soft overlay

Step 7

Now it's time to work on the background. I've decided to leave the branches of the trees empty, because they look more scary and mysterious. 

Add volume and shadow to the branches, and don't forget about the main source of light from the back, which in this case is the Moon.

Working on the trees

Step 8

Don't forget about the lawn. For now it's enough to add shadow from the girl and volume for the grass.

Working on grass

Step 9

Let's get back to the Wolf. Turn on the visibility of the layer with the wolf's main color. Create a New layer on top and make a Clipping Group.

Using the Air Brush, add details and shadows to the wolf, and make some fur.

Working on the wolf

Step 10

Then create a New Layer and set its mode to Overlay. With soft purple color, add lights around the wolf, to make him glow in the dark. Also make his eye glow with a soft orange color.

Applying soft overlay on the wolf

3. Detail the Illustration

Step 1

Create a New Layer on top of all existing layers. Now we get into further detailing and polishing up the illustration. I prefer to begin with the face of the main character, and then gradually move to other parts of the drawing. 

Notice how the second version is much cleaner and more accurate than the first one.

Starting detailing the face

Step 2

Continue the same process with on other parts of the illustration. Make sure you use quite a small brush for detailing. Either the Pen or Air Brush are good choices for this kind of work.

Working on other parts

Step 3

And Little Red Riding Hood is ready! All the details are in place, and now we can move to detailing the background and the Wolf.

Finished with girl

Step 4

Let's clean up pieces of the background. Delete all unnecessary parts, and add more branches if needed. Make the Moon more distinguished.

Working with the background

Step 5

Repeat the same process with the grass. The girl is standing on some kind of a lawn. To indicate that, you can add a few small flowers here and there.

And draw the wolf's tracks, because this is the main point of the illustration. Little Red Riding Hood finds these tracks and wonders who left them, while Big Bad Wolf is hiding behind her.

Adding flowers and footprints

Step 6

Add more details for the fur, teeth, and ears, and then work on further detailing of the Wolf. A glowing eye is also important for the illustration.

Further detailing of the Big Bad Wolf

Step 7

Don't forget about the wolf's tail, and add some grass to cover it up a bit.

Wolfs tail

Step 8

All we have to do now is add final highlights. Create a New Layer on top and set its mode to Luminosity. Take soft purple and add some lights. The mysterious fantasy lights are done!

Adding main highlights

Congratulations! You've Made It!

You saw the entire process of creating a digital fairy-tale illustration. I hope my instructions were clear and you found some new tips that can be useful for your future illustrations! 

Have fun!

Finished illustration

Source: Photoshop Tutorials +