style development

4 03 2012

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




9 responses

5 03 2012
Marty Murphy

thank you for you continuing to share your insight in this public forum, you are inspiration to many. something I would find useful to my understanding of your research process is how this stylistic choice is in support of the concept. beyond denotation of place, how does the shape design

5 03 2012

This is terrific. It’s a great learning experience to have this ‘behind the scenes’ look at how you created the style for a particular project. Hope you do more of these.

5 03 2012
Ignacio Ochoa

In this days I’m try to find any style to illustrate a tale. This post is absolutely inspiring.

5 03 2012
Nancy Beiman

We are doing a similar project here at Sheridan, and I will show my students this page! Thank you Hans and I hope the school year has been going well for you!

6 10 2016

which film was that Nancy?

6 03 2012

Great post, really instructive! Thank you so much for sharing, as always.

I didn’t know the filippino artist Mauro ‘Malang’ Santos and I love these paintings you used as reference.

May I ask if you know about any resource about him. I read something on Wikipedia, but I would like to investigate/know further on his artwork.


from hans –
you can find a longer post on my blog about him. there are a few books
published about his work but hard to find. they were published in the
philippines in small numbers and are out of print. I only have one.

7 03 2012
Bot Jocano

Very enlightening post Mr. Bacher. I and my countrymen/women would appreciate it, however, if you would use the correct spelling of Filipino. Upper case F and only one p. You wouldn’t want us to refer to you as a jherman would you?

from hans –
if I knew your countrymen and women had any idea about the JHERMAN culture or even were familiar with one of our artists I wouldn’t mind if they spelled GERMAN the wrong way…

14 03 2012

thanks for sharing this (and other posts). it’s so cool to see great artworks that i may not come across on my own. very inspiring.

17 03 2012
Serge Young

Thank you for sharing I found the images simplistic and masterful.

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