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  1. #1
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    Advice for Background Artists

    Hey everyone,

    I've decided earlier this year that I want to get into background illustration for animation. I wanted to know, from anyone with similar goals and other artists in general, what would be a good way to start learning? So far I've been doing some random studies in my own time. What helps you when you sit down to start a piece?

    Thanks!


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  3. #2
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    Foundations and painting from life, do this as targeted studies for weak points or something you struggle with to piece you are planning/currently working on, it could range from subject wise to foundations

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  5. #3
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    What is it that you mean by 'background illustration'? Are we talking 2D or 3D?
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  6. #4
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    I'm talking 2D illustration, I'm pretty sure 3D would refer to modeling? An example would be anything from visual development / concept art for backgrounds in animation, or drawing the backgrounds themselves to use as stills in final scenes.

  7. #5
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    In 2D animation, backgrounds are designed by the layout artist, who is responsible for the composition of animation in environment, including camerawork. The background painter gets to paint the background based on linear art from the layout artist, and colour keys from a colour artist.
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  8. #6
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    That's good to know. It's not what I asked, but still!

  9. #7
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    Yeah if you're aiming to be a background painter in animation you need to have a good understanding of perspective, environmental forms, both organic and constructed and lighting. Do a lot of observational drawing of environments, buildings, and so on. I've been keeping observational sketch books of places for many years.

    Another key thing to understand is that animation productions always have a style they are trying to hit, so you need to build your skills in taking forms you see and extracting their essence and turning it into she style you need. So you have to look at lots of animation backgrounds to understand what that essence is.

    Some shows with interesting background styles include:

    Ben 10
    Tangled the Series
    Pickle and Peanut
    Justice League (the new one i guess)
    Star vs the Forces of Evil
    Paprika
    Scooby Doo Mystery Inc
    Steven Universe
    and so many more


    What helps me to get started when sitting down to do a layout? The one that counts the most in animation: QUOTA!!!

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  11. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Checkerknight View Post
    Yeah if you're aiming to be a background painter in animation you need to have a good understanding of perspective, environmental forms, both organic and constructed and lighting.
    I don't agree with the understanding of perspective. A background painter in animation gets the background as line art, and a color key, i.e. the colors to be used. All that needs to be done is fill in the line art. For this, you need a solid understanding of color and lighting, that's it..
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  12. #9
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    Random recommendations:

    - Get The Noble Approach, a book made up of advice from the late Maurice Noble, one of the background artists who worked on Warner Brothers cartoons during the golden age of animation. It's solid.
    - There are a couple of classes on Schoolism that are relevant: the three digital classes by Nathan Fowkes, a background artist / concept artist for feature-length animation (his classes are okay, kinda over-long, and maybe redundant if you already know a lot about painting); Tonko House's class on color and light (also kinda okayish--Schoolism in general isn't mind-blowing, but maybe if you pay for instructor feedback it's better?)
    - A lot of getting better at art is finding heroes to look up to. Some of my favorite bg artists: Kevin Dart, Scott Wills, Walter Peregoy, Eyvind Earle. Favorite shows' bg art: Gravity Falls, Foster's Home, Dexter's Lab, Steven Universe, Mr. Peabody and Sherman (the new Netflix one). But this is all up to your taste--maybe you like more realistic stuff like anime backgrounds, not so much the zany / cartoony style in my examples. My fav anime backgrounds for the record: stuff in Makoto Shinkai's movies, Ghibli, Tekkon Kinkreet.

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