The main tree also got a special lighting treatment that appeared after the first lantern was lit. I planned on having "special lighting treatments" all over the place when a new lantern was lit, but there simply wasn't time for that. Still, here's the main tree with its highlights:
The original stage I used for the storyboards looked like this. I had to continually alter it for the different horizon line levels I had planned for in the different scenes. And yes, the first lantern was originally going to be on a stick. Also, the salamander and dragonfly were going to be walking on rocks in the water. However, the environment was going to be based on elements from a Dutch landscape, and large rocks aren't really a part of that. Those rocks instead became lilies and tree-roots.
This is what the WIP line version of the main background looked like. The trees on the left were done for the end credits. I had very particular shapes that I wanted the the trees to create through multi-planing, so this is more or less how I went about planning that.
The grass at the beginning of the film was also tricky to put together. Not so much in creating it, but more so in properly planning and compositing it. I split them up in ten different levels. There was a lot of back and forth between After Effects and Photoshop for pretty much all the background elements, but the grass required the most tweaking. Actually, no, the TwistyTree required even more. Oh well.
And here are three background elements. I painted all those blades of grass in the film manually. I was too stubborn to turn them into brushes or copy and paste sections of them. Plus, I liked the way it looked :D
Previous Ember posts can be found here:
Ember Process 2
Ember Process 1