Thursday, May 22, 2014

Production Overview: Part 3 - Design basics and characters

Hello everybody!

How have you been? we've been working extra time to deliver this post on time!

If you've read so far, you know that we've been sharing the process of how we refined our story through storyboard. Today we want to discuss how we approached the art and design of our animation. There’s actually a lot to say about the matter, but I’ll try to keep it short.

I’ll start off by saying this has not been a linear process, the designs kept changing up until the last minute and were developed hand-in-hand with the story line.  

Establishing foundations

As a rule of thumb, art needs to support the story, so we've given it a lot of thought.
* First we defined the atmosphere of our story - it’s a sweet story aimed at families, so the environment should be fun and optimistic.
* Since the world is mostly Abe’s (the father’s) world, it should feel square and stiff, supporting Abe’s old-fashioned ways and ideals.
* To contrast that and to support Ben’s character we agreed Ben should be round and soft, to emphasize his playfulness.
* We've had a few basic concepts when we realized we need to elaborate on the world, location and time. To keep some of the “magical feel” we initially aimed for, we decided to set our story in medieval times, somewhere in Europe.

Deciding on these elements helped us design the outfits, the location and the props inhabiting the world.


A lot of thought and love was put into designing the characters. The characters are the essence of the story, they appear in every second of the film and they require special attention.

After agreeing on the basics, we had to refine the characters, giving them unique characteristics and working on their appeal. In order to do so we further developed their background stories. We had to understand WHO these characters were in order to understand what they should look like. We had several drafts, but when the design of Abe’s beard and mustache came to be we knew it was spot-on. Throughout time we refined the proportions and details, to strengthen features such as his hair, shirt and shoes and his general silhouette. 


Ben was a little trickier than Abe. We had a lot (A LOT) of discussions regarding his age. He started 13 years old and gradually regressed to 6. We needed him to be old enough to somewhat understand responsibility, but young enough to be playful and for the audience to understand that his father may be expecting too much from him. Deciding his age defined Ben’s proportions but there was the matter of silhouette. Ben needed to feel wild, and we tried real hard not to fall to cliches and to create something truly original, in which his hair plays a big role. There were also discussions about details. Ben’s wild nature needed to be clear at first sight, so we added belts, made sure his clothes are always dirty and asymmetrical and stripped him off his shoes to present him as the little animal he is.

In the next entry we’ll share more info about our design process, and discuss the world and environment, secondary characters, props design and more.

Thanks for reading so far. If you enjoyed reading, please feel free to leave a comment below, share on Facebook and basically spread the word.


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