Client : Cartoon Saloon
Director : Tomm More, Ross Stewart
Role : Concept Art, Color Script, Background Color
Worked with directors Tomm More and Ross Stewart as Scene Illustration Artist, Location Designer, Color Script Artist and Background Painter for their feature film "Wolfwalkers" from the 5 times Oscar's Academy nominated studio Cartoon Saloon.
I helped define the style, the traditional pencil and watercolor technique and to establish the look and the methodology for the Background Colour Team. Here you can see a selection of some of the Concepts I developed and Backgrounds I painted.
All artwork copyright by Cartoon Saloon & Melusine Productions.
DESIGNING THE WORLD
The style draws from mediaeval tapestry and tableaus to design a cage-like oppressive city, where we designed images constituted by blocky and abstract shapes that trap the characters: a mediaeval pattern, mainly composed of squares and triangles. On the flip side, the expressiveness of traditional watercolour and pencil communicate the freedom of nature and the Wolfwalker people.
In my concepts I helped define the final look of the style and the forest, the graphic light and Irish colors, as well as exploring the characters in action and how to strike a graphic look moving in 3d space. Balancing illustration and cinematography to tell the story we needed in each shot. I also explored the FX look and progression and lighting.
WET FEET AND WET BRUSHES
In order to get the Irish atmosphere in our concepts, Tomm and Ross asked us to imagine that our feet were wet while we were painting. It proved difficult to nail the Irish mood, but specially in the waterfall design, where watercolors are at their rawest and washes of color blend, I let the watercolor do what it wanted, blending colors and shapes in beautiful ways that I would later on use on the final image to express the most free and organic side of nature.
PAINTING THE FOREST
The way we painted the forest was many times a representation of Robyn’s feelings. Seeing it through her eyes, to transmit that feeling of wonder, we treated the forest trees many times just like blobs of watercolour, diffuse, dreamy and beautiful. The line was almost disappearing in places. As the story progresses we move from wonder to fear, to even real threat, sharpening the brushwork to dry aggressive marks.
Designing the dreamscapes of running with the wolves sequence was the peak of the forest style where we dived into the pure emotion of friendship and freedom. We pushed the limits of the otherworldly feel and magic on the backgrounds, painting with watercolours in the most loose way. We mixed the pigments and washes wildly and with a sponge subtracted the paint to create the bright silvery moonlight onto the trees, as well as diffused the edges of the frame to infuse the feeling of submerging into a reverie following the heartbeat of the drums
Craftfully art directed by Maria Pareja from beautiful colour keys from her, I worked on the key BGs that you can see here that would settle the look of this sequence.
PAINTING THE CITY
RED SUNSET AND STYLE
Sometimes in BG we were left wild and painted them as concepts, like is the case for these red sunset ones. For them I went full rage mode as Mebh went rampant and showed the darkest city, illuminated only by red stripes of fiery sunset.
The style draws from mediaeval tapestry and tableaus.
Blocky and cage-like abstract shapes that trap the characters was what constituted the city backgrounds. A mediaeval pattern, abstract and blocky, a BG mainly composed of squares and triangles! The challenge here was to, while staying flat, add depth with value, hue variation and saturation between the levels of hills and buildings.
These were more challenging as, similar to traditional Ghibli backgrounds, the change of light was done with 2 different painted bgs. Beautifully animated in compositing, with gorgeous FX, and enhanced by compositing and grading, with great teamwork.