I recently worked on ten 3:30 animated episodes for
, a new show on
. There is also a new Palace Pets Website (!!!) which can be found at
The show was developed and produced at
, directed by the talented
. It was such a fun project for me personally as I served as Art Director on environments, props and color design. The show was definitely challenging as the Palace Pets have been a successful toy line for Disney for a while now and have a multicolored pastel palette. For this reason, color scripting was necessary on several of the episodes for either a full episode or portions of sequences that were particularly tricky to work out.
Below is my color script for my favorite episode, "The Knight Night Guard". (available to watch on the Disney Junior app now!) Color scripts, if you aren't familiar with them, are a way to get a big picture take on the color design for an entire episode or sequence. It is important to focus on the storytelling as scenes move from shot to shot and sequence to sequence, and make sure the planning for the lighting and effects is consistent logistically from one scene to another. They also are very helpful for animators so they can get a big picture idea of what it is we are shooting for, and also are very helpful for the compositor when piecing together all of the various elements into one shot. Additionally, I enjoy designing color scripts since they give me a chance to think globally about how I want to approach the design of specific environments and how much work I will need to do for specific areas of a sequence, and the work load we are facing in terms of environments and props for a particular episode or sequence.
Below are some stills from Episode 3. They translated pretty closely to the color script - good planning is worth it!
Below is a partial color script for Episode 4, "Throwing a Ball". I didn't have time to do a color script for the entire episode so I focused instead on a tricky sequence that takes place with a time of day change.
Below are a few shots for the final. (Additional characters were added after I did this initial color script.)
I actually did a few more of these but those episodes are not yet released.
Please check back for updates and be sure to watch Palace Pets "Tales of Whisker Haven" on Disney Junior! Next week I will post about some of the environments and props I designed. Thanks for reading!
In the late 1990's, I worked on a short independent animated film at Calabash Animation called, "Stubble Trubble", directed by Joe Merideth. At that time, the studio had a steady stream of commercials that kept almost all of us very busy throughout the year, but on occasion there would be a lull in the schedule. During that time, we always had short films to work on. "Stubble Trubble" was one of two indy films that I art directed, and what a learning experience it was!
Below are a few samples from the mountains of visual development pieces I created for "Stubble Trubble". In the end, the film toured the short film festivals all over the world and was even nominated for an Academy Award in the short animated film category in 2001. After all of that hard work, it was amazing and so satisfying to have been recognized for the effort we made in making this film.
Because Director Joe Merideth specified that he would like "Stubble Trubble" to look like animated cave paintings, I felt that a color script was necessary so that the film didn't become too monotone. The pencil tests that Joe developed at this point were full of energy and action, so I wanted to make sure that each scene was emotionally heighted by texture, lighting, and color in order to make those scenes feel dramatic. I had to balance the cave painting look with something that felt alive and kinetic. I developed a color script for the entire film, experimenting with how one scene's design would flow into the next and whether or not the lighting and color design worked scene to scene.
Once the script was approved by Joe, I was able to move forward with background texture explorations, line work development, lighting and compositing. The color script was the frame work for the entire film all the way to the final edit.
After I developed several visual development look paintings, I began working on the line work clean up look. I used one of Joe's scenes from the pencil test to develop a complete scene using this line work process to test whether it would work frame to frame. It did, so I developed a model packet and process for clean up and then trained the crew in the process. I even filmed a short clean up process video so that the animators could refer to it when needed.
Above is a still from the final composite. We tested out how this would all come together in one scene to make sure this was a producible film. Joe, my director, was happy with the look so we moved forward with the final fim production. Below are a few more still from the final film.
"Stubble Trubble", directed and written by Joe Merideth. Produced by Calabash Animation. Art Direction by Julia Lundman. Animation was entirely done by all of our amazing animation staff at Calabash.
But working from imagination alone, I believe, is not effective unless an artist works also from life. One tends to inform the other. During my years in Chicago, I regularly painted the still life, figures and portraits from life over at the Palette and Chisel, which helped me to develop a sense of how to mix paint, see color, simplify it, and apply it on canvas. I learned from Richard Schmid the principle of "cool light warm shadows, warm light cool shadows", something entirely new to me at the time. It was there that I learned how critical value relationships are to color, and how important it is to keep your color clean. Interestingly, I also learned from painting the figure and still life how it seems the majority of colors in any given subject seem to be more greyed down that I usually think at first, and how few really true high chroma colors are usually present.
Later on, when I needed to switch to painting in Photoshop at work, the Munsell Color System in the program gave me a way to visualize how connected the relationships are between hue, chroma, and value.
After having these experiences, I believe that learning about color is not simply the study of one component like a color wheel or color charts. I believe it has to be a combination of methods plus a relentless pursuit in training your mind to see and translate color accurately. I am still learning and sharpening my color and values sense, and hope that by making another concerted push now in my life I might break through a plateau I've been experiencing the past few years. By documenting my experiences and writing down what I know plus reading new research and methods while also painting from life, I hope to make some improvements.
Learning to Mix Color
Learning to Identify Color
Tools to Understand Color
hue: the local color of the subject
Another useful visualization of the Munsell Color System is the way that the program Adobe Photoshop represents it. Photoshop has an excellent color picker that brings up a color wheel. However, I prefer to use an enhanced extension called Magic Picker, an excellent color wheel for Photoshop used by many professional digital artists. If you have a copy of Photoshop, open up the program and experiment with painting swatches using the color wheel. Playing around with the sliders and adjusters really helped me see how color works using this system. This is the same chart depicted above, but represented differently.
Adobe published a technical guide regarding the Munsell Color System. You can find it HERE.
For further reading on the color wheel, read James Gurney's "The Color Wheel" series, Parts 1-7 on his blog, Gurneyjourney.blogspot.com. Gurney has a different but related approach culminating from his years of research on the color wheel. Excellent information, worth the read, including the comments.
Artist Graydon Parrish teaches a three week workshop in using the Munsell Color System at the Grand Central Art Academy in New York City each summer. The usefulness of learning the Munsell Color System is that it can help any artist identify any color, and use that color to depict anything he or she wishes. It is complex to understand at first, which requires some study and practice. I hope Graydon continues to teach - his classes are on the top of my list to attend!
Here is how Parrish describes the way he determines color in his paintings:
The above is just the beginning. One can analyze, then translate so many effects of nature into paint. I have a photo of a Bouguereau drawing where he had written the various colors of his model: green-grey, yellow-grey, rose-grey etc. With Munsell, the notations can be much closer. No more vague terms. (How much grey, for example, is in green-grey?) Its better to say 7.5 YR 6/3 or 7.5 R 5/4, for the average flesh and the ruddies. Then with mixing and planning, one can create an entire palette of Bouguereau flesh, for every change in value, and predict the rise and fall of chroma.
Likewise, Paris Hilton, could be studied and painted as well in all of her sun-tanned splendor. She is likely a chroma 5. When you then know where the chroma rises and where it falls, why some colors pull yellow in the lights and others don't, and how various transparent objects are more chromatic on the edges, then you have the beginning of an entire repertoire of visual phenomena from which to create." - quoted from the wetcanvas.com forums, HERE.
How Color Behaves in it's Environment
In addition to studying the Munsell system, learning how to mix and identify color, it is critical to also understand the principles of light and how color is affected by it. Matching color in any given subject is an important skill in developing the eye to see color correctly and helps to determine your palette and pigment choices. However, also understanding the reasons that make color appear a certain way in a particular situation is equally as important.
The very best books I can recommend are:
Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting
Andrew Loomis, Creative Illustration
James Gurney, Color and Light
Richard Schmid, Alla Prima
Here is a summary of some important points I learned from these books about how light and color work together:
- cool light produces warm shadows; warm light produces cool shadows. (Alla Prima)
- the most saturated color in a particular area is at the transition between the light side and the dark shadow and also at edges of objects. (Color and Light)
- Values in a landscape are often as depicted below, the source of the light, the sky, most often (even at night) being the lightest value in the landscape, the ground plane the second, slanting planes third, and upright planes usually the darkest. (Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting)
- Value is the most important factor in a painting, with hue and chroma coming next. If values are correct, hue and chroma will still be able to read. (Color and Light)
- a color will alter it's appearance depending upon the context of that color in the light or if other colors around it change. (Alla Prima, Color and Light)
- the limitations of pigments prevent us from depicting the wide range of luminosity in the world around us, so we must make adjustments in order to get across an approximation of what we see. (Alla Prima, Color and Light)
page 34, Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson
In "Creative Illustration" by Andrew Loomis, he dedicates a chapter entirely to the great Howard Pyle. Loomis included this chapter in order to pass on directly, in print, information that was taken in note form during classes taught by Pyle regarding his general theory regarding light and color.
"All objects of nature are made visible to the sight by the light and of the sun shining upon them. The result is that by means of this we see the colors and textures of the various objects of nature.
From this it may be seen that color and texture are the property of light and that they do not enter the property of the shadow. For shadow is darkness and in the darkness there is neither form nor color.
Hence form and color belong distinctly to light. Shadow - as the object illuminated by the sun is more or less opaque, so when the light of the sun in obscured by that object, the shadow which results is more or less black and opaque, being illuminated only by the light reflected into it by surrounding objects.
By virtue of shadow all objects of nature assume form or shape, for if there were no shadow all would be a flat glare of light, color and texture...But when the shadow appears, the object takes form and shape.
If the edges of an object are rounded, then the edges of the shadow become softened; if the edges of an object are sharp, then the shadows is correspondingly acure. So, by means of the softness or sharpness of the solid object, is made manifest.
Hence, it would follow that the province of shadow is to produce form and shape, and that in itself it possesses no power of conveying an impression of color or texture."