the problem was the color in BALTO. about 80% of the movie took place in the snow. if you are not careful you end up with a lot of white and some dull blueish colors, the atmosphere becomes cold and the audience starts freezing. that’s what steven spielberg was afraid of – the audience would not be able to develop warm feelings towards the characters.
I had painted my designs like usual in those days with feltpen and a bit of gouache, in a small size, 21 x 11 cm. the final backgrounds were usually painted in gouache. but with the soft blends in the snow areas that seemed to be impossible. so we decided – let’s try to paint it in oil. they had done it in BAMBI, why not try it as well. COLIN STIMPSON, the art director, was a brilliant oil painter, so were a few others in the background team. it took some weeks to train everybody. lots of test paintings were done, some of them little masterpieces.
for the final backgrounds nearly all of the snow scenes were painted in oil, as well as some of the interiors with soft blends. all other less problematic interiors were painted traditionally in gouache. in some of the next posts I will show some of the final backgrounds.
© UNIVERSAL PICTURES, AMBLIN