Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Desperaux

In early summer 2006 The Tale of Desperaux was in pre-production in London's Soho. I had read the book & while not so taken by the plot I was fascinated by some of the characters individual stories-particularly Gregory the gaoler. I thought him & his dungeon environment very cinematic & wanted to be involved with the project in some capacity.

I contacted the production office & showed them this painting I had made of Gregory. Apparently there were no more positions in Story so they agreed to give me a try-out in the art dept. I thought I could contribute to character design but the style of the film was very realistic & my more flat style was inappropriate.

Nevertheless I did enjoy researching the Flemish masters & trying to incorporate some of their forms & style into my drawing.





The Production Design dept. was looking for layout artists to design this Brueghel-like world. I brain-stormed a bunch of sketches suggesting what common kitchen items might the mice have appropriated to build their town. However, realistic, correct-perspective drawings were sought but I really wanted to work on the characters -they were much more fun to draw!

In the end Production appreciated my efforts to help but there wasn't a position suitable for me (or vice versa). I went to France instead . . .

26 comments:

Dan said...

Nonetheless, you've produced some amazing work, and thank you for sharing. Perhaps if Desperaux didn't look so realistic (and the animation didn't look so bad) I would want to go see it.

Matt J said...

Hey Dan, there's some very nice animation in there. Many talented European animators worked on it. The film is patchy but there's plenty worth seeing in it.

SteveLambe said...

Realism....is it ultimately that important in character design?

What about the expert knowledge of appealing proportions, costume design, and fun shapes that you constantly have in your work?

Those are much more important character design qualities than if it's rendered anatomically perfect in it's orthographic turns.

If they couldn't recognize that than it's their loss, Matt.

Matt J said...

Thanks Steve! The design aesthetic of the film seems to be very much rooted in the style of the Flemish masters. I think it's a brave move to give an animated feature this look & it's achieved with some success but ultimately the film remains cold because of it. But perhaps that was the point? The middle ages were rather brutal. The characters seem to be designed by many hands. I did find much to like but was rather disappointed with Gregory.

WJC said...

It seems a pretty bold (and strange) move to make a mainstream animated feature in the style of the Flemish masters.
I think that your work here has great character which is enjoyable enough to carry this sort of story and evoke that Flemish style without actually being as gloomy and humdrum as the Flemish style was.

I haven't seen the film yet, I must admit I thought it looked a bit humdrum.

Matt J said...

Yeah, Desperaux is a modern fairytale essentially & perhaps should have been conceived visually a touch more traditionally (contrary to us animation people always moaning "try something new")? The 'look' is beautiful but has the same distancing effect as Eyvind Earle's Persian miniature influnced work on Sleeping Beauty. There ARE scenes of immense warmth, particularly Desperaux's 'birth'.

Jeroen said...

As a Flemish Master myself (erm) I'm in the right position to say....I'd rather 've seen it in your style

Elliot said...

These are great, Matt. Love the shapes in the fourth one down - very Tenniel.

Monkeyfeather said...

Too bad, they certainly could have used, and the final look of the film would have been much more appealing. Well, to me any ways.

Monkeyfeather said...

You did some cool designs.

Matt J said...

Danks Jeroen! It's not all windmills & waffles you chaps are good at!

Cheers Elliot, I didn't have Tenniel in mind but interesting comparison.

Thanks Monkeyfeather-the source material is inspiring. Could have been great as a stop-motion film.

Owen Flanagan said...

Brilliant designs Matt, it’s a pity they didn’t use your designs, Gregory looks fantastic.

St├ęphane Kardos said...

Bon alors, comment ca va? tu travailles?
Bises

Tel Coelho said...

VERY BEAUTIFUL

Alina Chau said...

WOW!! These design are wonderful!! Too bad the movie doesn't look like your design!

limbolo said...

Good to see these again Matt.

I will post some of my own work on Despereaux soon.

I've seen 'some' of the movie - it was warm and dark and I dozed off.

Kyle Marshall said...

Very cool!!!

Peter Breese said...

These are very cool images, bummer you couldn't get on board the production.

Mark McDonnell said...

Yeah, great designs. Love the bottom right version on the last page on this post.

Something about him that I can understand who he is.

Best,

MAC

Mark McDonnell said...

Thanks man, I really dig your work and the variety of designs you come up with. Impressive as always,

MAC

lorelay bove said...

Yeah pretty cool stuff, I love all these sketches of him!
very fun!

Howard Shum said...

Cool designs!

Kaffeinated said...

amazing work, definitely keeping tabs on this blog.

El polaco scalerandi said...

very good, great desings
gretting
el polaco
sorry my bad inglish

Erik D. Martin said...

simply wonderful work! man I gota get to work again - really inspiring work!

Tooninator said...

they were foolish for not bringing you onboard. Love the style. First time visitor here, but not the last time.