it is difficult enough to come up with your own character-design, but then on top of that this character needs to live in an environment that is stylistically in the same world. from my own work I am aware of that problem, and I am facing it constantly when my students develop their animated shorts. most of them don’t work systematically researching the art world and collect as much reference as possible. before you start searching for the right images you should know roughly how your film might look like, realistic or more abstract, a phantasy world, for children or adults.
I want to show you how I work with some reference and BG-artwork from my latest project that I produce with my filippino masterclass student KENNY TAI. the story is about a little filippino boy and his caribou friend, and it takes place somewhere in the countryside. after some initial idea sketches I decided to develop a style-mixture of STUART DAVIS and filippino artist MAURO ‘MALANG’ SANTOS. photo reference of poorer settlements in the philippines was no problem since I have several thousand photos shot myself. with STUART DAVIS work I am familiar since my production design work on disney’s shelved WILD LIFE production in 1998. DAVIS, 1892 – 1964, became early a committed ‘modern’ artist and a major exponent of cubism and modernism in the US. I learned about MALANG’S work since I live in the philippines, his beautiful paintings capture the traditional life, the colors and environment in a very unique style.
in the final look I came up with there is probably some more influence, from chinese art ( since MULAN some of my major interests ), MARY BLAIR and GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM. following are some of the reference compiled images and a few steps of the first design I did.
© stuart davis, malang, kenny tai, bilderfabrik