February 18, 2016

Ember Process 3

This post and the next will feature the trees and background elements that I painted for Ember.  I was super excited to start designing and painting the trees, and had to keep myself from going overboard on the storyboards.  I did the design-and-line work for all of the backgrounds between October and December 2014.  I spent that following Christmas break doing a large part of the painting.

 The first tree is the main tree that the salamander starts on.  This was actually one of the last trees I painted, which is what I planned on doing.  I did the other backgrounds as "warm-up", as I wanted this particular tree to stand out quite a bit, along with the originally called "TwistyTree" which is in the background for the majority of the rest of the film (that particular tree has since then been renamed, however, but more on that later).

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.

I later separated all those blades of grass, plants, and cattails so that I could use them as fore- and background elements in other places.  I created a little library of them all.  This is said library:

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

That's all for now.  Part two should be up not too long from now.

Previous Ember posts can be found here:
Ember Process 2
Ember Process 1

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