‘There’s a Big Bad Wolf’ was based on the wonderful poem by Blue Peter Amazing Authors competition winner Phoebe.
The Amazing Authors competition is a collaboration between BBC Studios Kids & Family, BBC Arts and The Reading Agency, which gives young writers a fantastic opportunity to have their stories brought to life as a book and a short animated film.
I was genuinely so impressed by 10-year-old Phoebe’s poem. It was funny, intriguing, and hit the right balance between being slightly spooky, adventurous and sweet. It was a cohesive tale, with a clear beginning, middle and end. Exactly what you need to create a successful story or film. There was even a little surprise, a cliff-hanger at the end, which made it even more endearing.
Seeing as the winning story was going to be made into a book as well as a film, I felt that it would be great if the visuals had the tone and visual language of a children’s picture book. My thoughts and inspiration shifted to the wonderful art by the late Ronald Searle and Quentin Blake, and how their distinctive ink line feels expressive and alive.
It was that expressiveness that I wanted to capture, as well as creating a language that was both charming and a little rough around the edges. A look that would mix a hand drawn line and loose, digitally painted backgrounds with textures to give it depth and interest.
With these thoughts in mind, we set out to create a rich two-dimensional world using a hand drawn look with layered textures and brush lines, creating something hand-crafted and magical. We put emphasis on the humour and performance of the characters, creating a nice balance between the subtle darkness and the comedy of the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed establishing this style that started from the world of picture books, but developed into perhaps something richer, detailed and more suitable for animation yet still holding onto the language of the picture book world.
Once we started production the lovely Designer Anh Cao joined me creating the backgrounds, bringing her charm and colour skills to the table.
The wolf was so much fun to design. I wanted to give him a lot of character and edge. I deliberately wanted to keep the design loose, highlighting his scruffy, slightly spooky nature. All the while giving him humour and a goofy side to his performance and facial expressions.
The girl has an edge to her persona and quirkiness to her design. I saw the girl as being a tough cookie, with simple design features, yet full of charm and expression. Visually I wanted her character to have the same looseness of a sketch, including a boiling line, textures and highlights that weren’t perfectly filled in.
Storyboard and animatic
Together with the brilliant Storyboard Artist Althea Aseoche, I loved figuring out how we could enhance the sense of adventure and make the environments feel exciting and visually interesting, as most of the scenes took place in the girl’s bedroom and in the garden shed.
This part I thoroughly find delight in, to map out the story on a timeline, but also to create the undertones of the story, to add details that are not in the script but enhance the story and give it depth. This was then brilliantly edited together by Dan Williams and Victoria Stevens.