I started out with these simple sketches, just playing around with ideas and face shape. I really wanted to do something that would reflect the character, but not make her too awkward like most illustrations of Pippi are. I wanted to show her eccentric, boisterous, and confident personality without it being too garish. My knowledge of the character and her stories was limited, but I've read up on Pippi's backstory and the sort of things that make up her character. She isn't an orphan, but her father is gone most of the time since he is a buccaneer captain, so she spends all her time raising herself and being self-reliant. She has adventures with her friends, forging her own way, outsmarting adults, and causing quite a bit of mischief, though she is well-meaning and friendly. She is a big personality and for some reason she has superhuman strength on top of everything else (inherited from her father). So, I really wanted those strong characteristics to come through.
|First Concept of her face.|
After doing those initial sketches, I went straight into developing her character. As you can see, what I'm choosing to highlight is her hair, which is one prominent feature, and her clothing, which I think is best in reflecting her personality. Remembering how it was when I was a little girl and being highly imaginative, I liked to collect things that I found while playing with my friends, or I liked just collecting things in general, i.e. cards, marbles, rocks, scarves, etc. I thought that since Pippi was an adventure with a big imagination, she would collect strange things and stick them in her pockets. I also wanted to give her a more old-fashioned looking outfit, with the large skirt and button-up shirt and big, Victorian-styled shoes. As far as I know there is no particular time period that the stories take place, but seeing as the books were published in the 40s and many of the illustrations done are very vintage-esque, I thought I would make the design more old-fashioned than modern. I also thought in giving her a bigger skirt it would create more body to her design and showcase her strong presence. Oh, and another element to her look that I added was the two little pins on the front of her jumper. They are of an anchor and a ship's wheel. I thought this would represent the idea of her father being a captain and how she had lived for most of her early life on that ship before her father bought a house and had her live there thinking that life on the sea was no place to raise a daughter. She loved that life, though, and apparently is a better sailor than most of her father's crew. Having those pins, then, represents that part of her life, which I think isn't readily known about Pippi Longstocking in general. And then, of course, I have her wearing her longstockings.
|Final Concept of her face.|
After doing the three above sketches, I went ahead and started on my first illustration. However, when I showed it to my client she thought she looked too old. She is supposed to be around 9-10ish and my concept made her look more like a teenager. I agreed with her and went back to redevelop her face. I then came up with the above sketch, which I'm very happy with. I think it expresses her mischievousness and youth. So even though I had done an entire illustration already, it ended up not turning out as well as I had hoped. I was glad, then, that I went back and redeveloped Pippi a little bit more and pushed to have more expression in her face. Looking back now on my initial sketch of Pippi's face, she doesn't have as much life or depth as I was able to achieve after my redevelopment. It has taught me that sometimes, though it may seem I have achieved what I wanted, it might take another pair of eyes or putting it away and returning back to it with fresh eyes to really observe flaws of a piece. I thought it was very helpful to me in my growth as a concept artist.
Without further ado, then, I give you two illustrations I have completed!
As you'll notice, I have drawn Pippi holding or carrying certain things. This is to make these illustrations personal to my client's daughter. They are things that I incorporated that were what her daughter did during certain sections of the photobook and of her second year. Such as, the second illustration Pippi is holding the flags of Finland and Sweden because my client went with her husband and daughter to spend several months there as a vacation, so this is something that would be meaningful to her daughter, particularly when she is older and look back on that time spent there. Other things include an Easter egg bag or water hose, which represent for that particular section of the photobook, i.e. my client's daughter's Easter as well as the fun time she spent in the hose because she really loves playing in the water. I will be doing this with the rest of the illustrations that I create. It adds that personal touch that will make this photobook special and memorable for my client's daughter.
I will be posting more illustration work as I go, so there will be more coming up! For now, I hope you enjoy these.
Coming up next: My Avenger's Project: Red in the Ledger. :-)