With a clearer vision on how we would approach our animation story wise, it was time to design numerous concepts for how the overall product should look, which really was the fun part! However from what I have learned, an animation needn’t only have an appealing vision, but if the story isn’t there then it won’t carry or be accentuated by the detail. I decided to do some research on different story board artists and examples of different process’s before an animation is made, so I could figure out where to begin concepts for myself. As a team we came together and began to throw up different ideas of how the theme of the animation should look, and what influences we could use to support our concepts. If we knew eachother’s influences, we would find it easier to decide on an overall theme and our concepts would be able to reflect our combined effort.
First we discussed film’s, TV shows and video games that would reflect a naturalistic or fantasy theme whilst still maintaining an almost childlike feel, our possible target audience would be that of young children or even families.
The legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (2003)
One of the first influences that came to mind was the legend of Zelda franchise, particularly games such as “The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker” (2003). The overall theme of the video game is simplistic but very eye catching, relying heavily on a warm colour palette to reflect its calming and friendly atmosphere, some could argue that it also appears quite nostalgically childlike. This was something we wanted to reflect with our animation because not only did it fit the aesthetic of our story, but it was a design that was within our limitations and our brief knowledge of the 3D programme Maya. What I remember vividly about this video game was that it constantly felt bright, like a warm summer’s day. It can spark a warm emotion in the audience and that I would love to achieve in our own animation, hopefully we can try to emulate sunshine in our happy little short. Or even successfully portray what time of day it is in our animation by first glance, I might try to experiment with lighting in Maya to see if I could learn to achieve the same effect.
The Jungle Book (1967)
We also referenced films that we could remember from our childhood, such as the Jungle Book as Alistair had suggested, because there is a good reason as to why movies like that stick in our brains visually. Also, as a cause of the location of the bird animation being in the jungle, this classic would be a perfect reference of how to reflect the environment successfully. The backgrounds specifically in this Disney film were hand painted with exception of the waterfall which consisted of waterfall footage. On occasion scenery was used in both foreground and bottom to create a notion of depth, it was a little easier for us to create depth within in our project. Mainly because the scenes can be built and angled and we could make changes to the scenes at any time without as much hassle as developing it in a 2D space.
A TV show that immediately came to mind when thinking about this animation was the children’s TV show Pocoyo (2005), as it follows along with the themes of the strength in simplicity. Originally in Spanish, the series was translated for English audiences and aired on the popular children’s network ‘CITV’. Even when I was younger I was seriously impressed with how captivating the animation was with little to know backdrop, instead deciding to focus on specific props and interesting characters. We wanted to create adorable character designs that would stand alone visually, and not have it drowned out by an overzealous background, yet still have enough information for the audience to read. Creating specific colour palettes would really aid us in focusing on specific characters and details, much like how the characters in Pocoyo compliment eachother. We’d need to make a background that would accentuate the bird’s character and that could compliment it in a similar manner to what Pocoyo has done.
Charlie Chalk (1987)
Bradley and Allistair had suggested along the lines of children’s entertainment, a TV Show called Charlie Chalk (1987) that was a stop motion production, produced in the UK. There can be a lot of similarities drawn between stop motion and 3D animation, one of the main aspects is that the models are made up of different components in a 3D environment. With this example, more so than some of our 2D references, we could better visualise how to build and model a colourful, childlike environment. The group also noted it various use of colour to reflect to overall mood of each episode and the surreal designs for the nature in the background. For example, when I was doing some research on the show itself, I noticed how the trees and rock’s within the set have a very unique design that would be perfectly suited to our animation. We could take inspiration from these designs and their interpretation of plants and incorporate them into our short.
I also decided to do some external research on artists within the industry and how their concept art could be developed into an animated short or the final product. One of which who really piqued my interest was artist Eyvind Earle and the ambitions he had for his work despite limitations. A message that really stood out to me when researching this artist in particular, was to not be afraid of adding detail into your work, give it your all and then make restrictions after you go too far. Never restrict yourself to push your ideas rather then limit yourself to a mindset of ‘I don’t think I could do this’ or ‘It may not be possible.’ I had been kind of stuck on these ideals for a while because this is my first project and I was so weary of making mistakes, where it was from my mistakes I could learn the biggest lessons. I had came to this conclusion following an article about Earle’s work on the timeless “Sleeping Beauty” (1959).
(Image: Eyvind Earle, Concept painting, c. 1950, Sleeping Beauty)
(Image: Eyvind Earle, Concept painting, c. 1959, Sleeping Beauty, 1959 )
This film was said to be one of the first produced by Disney that had a real artistic direction and motive in comparison to the others. Fearing that his work may be simplified in the final product, Earle gave his assistants hundred of finished paintings more so than sketches. Many of which would be used as backgrounds in the final feature. Although, despite it’s beautiful visuals, the film was a financial flop, mainly because all components of the film weren’t as cohesive as it’s beautiful exterior. Once again emphasising the important lesson of balance between a film’s aesthetic, and it’s story line, one should not out balance the other.
For further inspiration, I had created a sort of mood board on Pinterest to get an overall idea of what I thought would be helpful to the animation, whether or not it was just to figure out the mood of the story, or how other artists interpret cute bird designs.
- Amidi, Amid. “Walt Peregoy, ‘101 Dalmatians’ Color Stylist, RIP”. Cartoon Brew. N.p., 2017. Web. 30 May 2017.
- Reitherman, Wolfgang. The Jungle Book. United States: Walt Disney Production, 1967. film.
- Cain, Abigail. “This Artist Made Disney’S “Sleeping Beauty” Enchanting—And Nearly Impossible To Animate”. Artsy. N.p., 2017. Web. 31 May 2017.
- Charlie Chalk. United Kingdom: Woodland Animations, 1987. Tv show.
- The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Japan: Nintendo, 2003. video game
- Pocoyo. Spain: Zinkia Entertainment, 2005. Tv Show