Major Project · Semester Two

The Environment Foundations

In a previous post, I spoke about the team conjoining together to address the information that was contained within the interview material, and discussed how to minimise the time-stamp on how long the animated documentary duration should be.

Now that the time is currently within the two-minute frame, there is a clear picture of where the locations of the events will take place. With some locations, such as the home and conservatory area, there is an established style and layout that I feel is important to retain in the animation. The interview is entirely directed by Attracta, and the experience is explored through her memories of Zara. That is why I feel that it is important for those significant areas that the animal occupied within the home to retain as much character as the design can permit.

With other areas, the premise was a lot less defined. The location of Jess’s grandmother’s home in Newcastle suggested that some geological elements should be featured in the environment, but that was the limit in terms of the design brief. This permitted a range of different environment opportunities.

(1.1 Shown Above – the backroad environment, explored through a range of different locations and composition approaches)

Shown in figure one is a range of rough sketches that I created for the backroad environment. I based these sketches from images I sourced from the internet, referencing their content and composition to help guide me towards a visual outcome. The lines of the sketches are more refined in some pieces rather than others, which I feel may have interfered with the comprehension of what certain elements of each of the compositions were.

I uploaded the sketches to the Pethood group to receive feedback from the other members of my team. It became apparent that the pieces to the left of the grid were more popular with everyone than the right, as it gave the impression of a country lane abode. The other two pieces were considered too country-like and did not resemble anything that alluded to a country lane – it appeared to have more association with farmland.

It was at this point that Jess was kind enough to show me the actual road that her grandparents live on in Newcastle. Oddly enough, the sketches on the left were not too far from the layout of the actual road, which gave me a direction to refocus the design.

(1.2 Shown Above – the initial sketches of the various environments that feature in the animated documentary) 

In the imagery shown in figure two, I have created some grey-scale initial sketches that encapsulate the assets and layout of how each environment appears. For the interior shots I have referenced images from the photos that Jess shared of Zara, or have taken elements that were featured in the animatic.

One disclaimer that I must admit with the concept sketches is that they are posed in a particular way, and that contradicts with the layout that we are using for the animated documentary. The format of camera movement mimicks the approach that is taken in theatre – the audience faces the stage (in the animation, the audience views the events occuring on screen through a static front-facing camera). However, rather than flowing a linear movement that is the recognised format for storytelling – that is, reading/viewing from the left to the right, the approach of the animation is that the camera is constantly moving back and forth as part of the reminiscent segments of the piece.

The primary reason for creating these initial sketches is to get a sense of the objects required in each scene of the animation so that the sketches can then be referenced to create an asset list which will help with organisation and planning.

It is my intention to create blueprints for each environment once each location has a completed initial sketch. The hope is that the blueprint will assist with the visualisation and layout design that will be comprehensive to the other members of my team. Whereas the narrative of the animation was dictated by what Attracta chose to speak of during the interview process (and later by us, when we went through the editing process), it has lead to us having more transitions between locations than what would normally occur for an animated short.

There is still a few environment sketches to complete so this blog post will continue to be updated with visual assets as progress continues to be made. Once that major task is finished, the next point of focus will be to create visually appealing, fully-coloured concepts that are representative of the camera composition. The concept pieces will be influenced heavily by the illustrative work of Walter Peregoy, who is the teams’ primary artistic reference. I am looking forward to finishing the management side of environment design and creating more visually appealing concept pieces in preparation for the next deadline, occurring on the 10th of March. It is hoped that by that stage, we will have achieved a small gallery to demonstrate our finalised visual style and if we are ahead of schedule, we may have a few three-dimensional scenes to present as well.


Nemo Photography,. Emsworth, A Quiet Country Lane. 2008. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

Tom, John. The Lane To Ings End From Lower Gate.. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

Tyler, Wesley. Country Lane. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.


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