Art of ... animated films... and trying to learn from them

  • SVS OG

    Being such a huge fan of animated films - I really enjoy looking at the Art Of books and finding concept art images from the films online. With social media, often times the creator of the art will share their work and give some little nugget of info on it etc.

    I recently came across some concept art images from the Disney film The Princess and the Frog. They all stopped me in my tracks because they were so beautifully done.

    This piece captivates me on two levels - the values/colors and lighting are, for lack of a better word, magical to me. There is so much to look at within the image but your eye always goes back to Mamma Odie in that blue moonlight beaming into the ship wreck she lives in.

    The other thing that captivates me is the sheer number of objects that are drawn into this scene. They give it personality, character and there are a ton of them. But yet they do not distract in the final piece because of how they are planned in terms of value/color/focus.


    Looking at the actual drawing and value study - I do not even know how you being to build up a drawing like this. What I mean is how do you even think up all the gadgets, trinkets and things to place in a scene like this? And then to be able to get them all to work together in harmony and in perspective - my brain explodes.

    Perhaps something like this is overkill for what would be appropriate for a children's book but boy would I sure love to be able to do work like this for my personal projects!


  • SVS OG

    A few more samples from this same film -

    This Mardi Gras scene is once again just filled with amazing details and complexity and the lighting - wow love it.



    @smceccarelli this next one might provide some inspiration for your Pirates of Oz pieces:


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    Great post! Love that movie. There is a video game that at some point i will buy just for the art in it. Ori and the Blind Forest. If you haven't seen screen shots from it, i highly recommend taking a look.

  • Incredible. I agree with you. I love these super intricate scenes. And my style tends to lend itself to this level of detail, but I've yet to do a piece of this caliber because it's so incredibly daunting to plan and execute effectively. The line between intricate/beautiful and overcrowded/muddy is so thin.

    I'd always assumed that it was a compositional problem but as you've pointed out here, the key seems to be in the lighting. You need that laser-like focus on your subject matter in order for this kind of thing to work.

  • SVS OG

    @Chip-Valecek said in Art of ... animated films... and trying to learn from them:

    Ori and the Blind Forest

    I just went and looked at screen shots from the game - and you are right the artwork is really incredible. And does have this same sense of mood with the way they use light/color/value. Wow - its stunning!

  • SVS OG

    These concept pieces from Zootopia (which are also in it's Art of book) try to go in and explain some of the logic and process behind the drawing.

    Seeing all of the directional arrows for how your eye will be lead around the scene are interesting - but again I am not sure how you even start to plan out something this detailed and chaotic as they called?




  • Very cool. I watched a lot of special features about the making of Zootopia. There are some super interesting things going on there. From a character and world-design perspective, the undertaking was enormous. So inspiring!

  • SVS OG

    These are amazing pieces @Rich-Green - thanks for sharing them! I also love animated films and art-of books...such incredible art. Love the pieces you've found here - the lighting, the details...

    There was a discussion during the Fall Critique about how to add more objects to help tell the story but still not make it cluttered...'value and detail control' was (I think) the concise answer. And grouping objects together. So you create clusters of objects and use the value and level of detail to help guide the eye around the piece in the right directions. They also mentioned the composition challenge where students have to put 50 (or 100) objects in one piece - that piece on the ship with Mamma Odie is a perfect example of how to do that effectively!

    The Zootopia piece about how to characterise/compose objects is really interesting, thanks for sharing that too!

  • SVS OG

    @Dulcie Thanks for letting me know about how this comes up in the Fall Critique - I was already anxiously awaiting the video to appear on the site anyway - now I am looking even more forward to watching it when it arrives.

    Also now that you mention a 50 object challenge - I feel like I have heard maybe Jake and/or Will mention that in one of the SVS videos I watched a long time ago - not sure which one it was.

    It is so funny as I love all the little details - and yet have never attempted anything like this in the past. Maybe out of fear that I would just get frustrated by my lack of skills required to pull even a beginner version of that off. But I will only grow if I keep pushing myself out of the comfort zone, so maybe I need to give it a try!

  • @Rich-Green Agreed. I remember them mentioning that as well. We just have to do it! You could probably start small, you know? Illustrate an image with 10 objects, then 15, then 20... work your way up.

  • Thanks for sharing Rich! I LOVE animated films too, and do a lot of research ;). I've been wanting to get more art books and this just shows how valuable they are. Finding "stuff" to fill a space is really hard when you haven't practiced much. That is one thing I've been trying to work on as well when doing perspective drawings on different items. Later I'll remember this or that to fill space. But like you said it could be a lot for a kid's book. That's why these artists are so good and get paid so much!! I may one day like to go in that direction because the results are incredible!

    I will say that your work is on it's way there though! You've done some wonderful advancing and I only see you getting better if you're using these as a study tool!

  • Pro SVS OG

    Ah, my heart soars watching these images.....animation films and art-of books are my major source of inspiration. I have a small collection in a place of honor in my library. My favorites are the Disney Archive series and the "Art of Dreamworks" anthology.
    Too much for a children´s book? Why then too much? There are lots of children books that thrive on details. There is a whole type of children books that is based on the concept of looking for hidden objects in a very complicated scene. They are very popular here and my children love them.
    I have been thinking a lot recently about style and children books. My style leans very much on 3D animation (that is what I learnt after all), while many many children´s illustrations are very graphical and design-centered. I do believe there is really a place for all styles, as long as it is a sincere expression of the artist´s interests and what he/she can do best!

  • SVS OG

    @bharris I seem to recall you posting a page of sketches of furniture and other room decor type objects on your Instagram - and I thought they were really wonderful. Makes sense to practice perspective and object design on single pieces at a time and then build up. And thank you so much for the kind words about my growth and improvements!

  • SVS OG

    @smceccarelli - you know what you are absolutely right - there is room for all styles. And your personal background and preferences also explain why I am always so drawn into your work. I truly do find it so appealing and the kind of art I enjoy the most.

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