Layout Design for Animation Portfolio 2011

I’m pleased to present my Layout Design for Animation Portfolio.

This class focused on designing layouts (backgrounds) for animation and learning about the role of a layout designer within an art department.  After the script for a movie, game, or animated TV show is interpreted and translated into a visual sequence by storyboard artists, the layout designers solve the problems inherent to developing story-telling elements, composition, leaving space for characters and props to move in, developing the background prior to painting, and infusing the style of the story into the illustrations.  A layout artist must be able to research everything from period and culturally-appropriate architecture, furniture, fabrics, patterns, and other elements that will help tell the story.

The layouts below are all in 1.85 aspect ratio (standard widescreen format for the US) ranging from 8 Field to 12 Field.  Some are contour line drawings, some are in wonky or warped styles, and others are value studies or on-location drawings.  I used colored pencil, graphite pencil, and markers to create these pieces.

Below, is my process developing a layout designs for an oil portrait painter’s studio set in modern day in the spring.  I began with a series of thumbnails drawn with a Tombow ink marker on tracing paper and worked through problems of composition and focal point on the easel and model’s chair as well as developed the story-telling elements – such as the makeup area.  The makeup area indicates that this the busy artist who prepares for her interviews and presentations in her studio.

The final version is cleaned up with a graphite pencil.  Notice the thicker contour lines around the main focal point and foreground elements.  I was careful to develop the relationship between the easel and model’s chair with a directional line – the model and artist can see each other.

In the version below, I used color pencil to create a wonky version of one of the earlier thumbnails.  Wonky style was developed in the 60’s and was used in TV shows like Nickelodeon’s Rocko’s Modern Life.  It makes use of a crooked architecture through a lack of parallel lines.  This approach gives the layout a fun and playful style..

Last in this series is my value study of the oil painter’s studio.  Adding value places the layout in a specific time of day and much attention is paid to where the light is coming from.  I used lighter tones and clear shadows to suggest a late afternoon setting and kept the foreground elements dark so that they wouldn’t challenge the focal points for attention.

Below are my first and second live location drawings.  These were opportunities to work with markers and capture story-telling elements and values in a limited amount of time.  It was fun to work on location directly from life and rearrange objects to create better compositions right then and there.  For example, I moved the tree in the Japanese restaurant drawing and drew the shadow as a directional line towards the restaurant, drawing attention back to it.

A formal french restaurant set in the turn of the 19th-to-20th century in Christmas time drawn with graphite pencil.  The elements that suggest the era are the flame-lit chandelier, wall sconces, and gramophone.  This was a great opportunity to combine both wonky and warped style together.  An illustration in warped style is like looking through a fisheye lens.  The lines converge at different points along the horizon line in convex and concave curves.  The interesting thing about the warped style is that it stretches out architecture making it look longer and wider.  So by combining the two styles here, it’s like looking at a wonky style through a fisheye lens.

Two of my earlier marker value studies of a cable car flower shop set in a San Francisco alleyway near Valintine’s Day.   I didn’t change the organic shapes much, but the architecture and background props were wonkified to be playful and keep the charming elements of the cable car.  I used light values in the first study to place the layout in day and darker values in the second layout to indicate night.  In the nighttime value study I left the windows and light shining on the ground white to draw the eye back to the cable car store.