Visual Development for Feature Animation
DESIGNED ART Concept designer Gil Rimmer shows how to create a piece of art where every element supports the story and characters
il Rimmer’s day job involves
G developing characters and ideas for animation, which means he offers a distinctive perspective in this video. Don’t get too hung up over the term animation in the title: this project has nothing to do with timelines and splines in Maya, and everything to do with creating a strong concept and expressing it in imagery. Bread and butter for any artist, whatever field you specialise in.
Gil starts with story and staging: what the situation is and how best to represent it. He has what he calls “the Big Idea” – a simple expression of the theme, look and feel he’s after. You’ll see how he researches visual signposts for the concept to refer to throughout the project. As he blocks out his composition, he’s thinking constantly about what his decisions communicate, tinkering with silhouettes and perspective until he finds a good arrangement.
Detail starts to develop as Gil considers the lighting, establishing primary and secondary sources to keep major elements separate. He gives some great observations on how light fades over distance, which will help you develop some basic rules of thumb for your own art.
The absence of colour throughout this development work is striking, and Gil has a relatively unusual but effective technique when he finally introduces it. Working with the Curves tool and Layer Masks he’s able to rapidly introduce colour washes that work differently in highlight and shadow areas, giving a rich feel with little effort.
Gil has a lot of insightful things to say and an engaging style, so it’s a shame the audio quality is so poor. It sounds like it’s been over-processed, with mushy acoustics and distracting noise artefacts. At this price you expect better. But although the listening experience is uncomfortable, what’s being said is well worth your time.
Gil Rimmer’s story-driven approach to illustration comes from an animation and design background. Gil uses the Curves tool to build up basic colour washes, then supports the colour schemes with painted-in details. Fire and fog are among the effects Gil adds towards the end to deepen the richness of the scene.