You’ve made your directorial decisions with your Storyboards and you’ve got you’re timing down with the Boardmatic. The problem is that everything is still looking a bit rubbish. Scribbley storyboards drawn on the back of napkins just aren’t going to cut it anymore. You keep telling everyone to trust you. You can see clear as day that it’s going to look amazing, but not everyone has your vision. It’s time for some Concept Art.
The idea of Concept Art is to take key frames from your film and work on them till they, near enough, are looking how the final film will look. Of course there is some flexibility in this and trying to get a single short ‘perfect’ might not really be practical timing wise. But it’s a great time to experiment with techniques and developing the mood of the animation. You can think about style, look, feel, palette and how each of these things can compliment the message of the animation.
For the foxes film, I very much wanted to build on the technique I was using in the Art Against Knives films of incorporating 2D animation into 3D environments. So the first thing I needed to do was build the 3D set. Once I had that I could think about the texturing. Even though it was a CGI set I wanted it feel tactile and not too computer generated. The technique I came up with was to create a flat mask for each element of the scene which I could then use to cut out a flat piece of textured artwork. I then layered up these flat pieces and placed a shadow pass over the top of it all. Here are the results and a gif of how i got there.
Even though these pieces of concept art capture the mood I was aiming for, there is still something missing – Dirt. The characters in the film are dirty, disgusting, rude, violent and disorganised. I want the environment that they live in to reflect this. To achieve this I want to fill the set with dirt and junk. Tin cans, dustbins, plants, crisp packets, etc. However, a lot of this can be done on a shot by shot basis and is called dressing the set. To do this we need to know where are camera is going for each shot, and for that we need an Animatic.