Making Backgrounds

General Moho topics.

Moderators: Fahim, Distinct Sun, Víctor Paredes, erey, Belgarath, slowtiger

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Making Backgrounds

Post by Thrashador » Tue May 12, 2015 11:25 pm

Hi all,
I'm looking to get back into animating again. The last thing I animated was a collaboration with my brother. He was applying for the Dean Honors Scholarship at Tulane University, and they wanted to see the student do something creative with a "box" on the prompt's page.

Long story short, our song and animation helped him win a full-tuition and fees scholarship! Check it out if you want:

Anyway, unlike in that video, most of my animations have actual backgrounds, haha.

I feel like that's one area where my stuff looks more amateurish, and I was wondering how you guys go about making quality background art (the workflow, the software, outsourcing, etc). If I were truly determined to have amazing background art, what do you think is the right way to go about it?

I'd love to hear what you guys do!

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Re: Making Backgrounds

Post by slowtiger » Wed May 13, 2015 9:41 am

Background art should fit into the overall design of your film. This doesn't mean that a BG has to share the same style with the animation! There's certain combinations already tried by filmmakers which are always acceptable:
1. Cel animation look - painted BG
This is what you see from Disney to Warner everywhere. Animation with a visible outline stands out on a painted BG without outlines very nicely.
2. Everything has outlines
That's Simpsons, Family Guy, and the like.
3. Nothing has outlines
Not that common, but used in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
4. Cutout animation - collage
Nearly everything is acceptable here, but it's hard to find a really good combination of stuff.

You see, the first decision should be whether the animation should look different from the BG, and how much.
- I recommend to go for some contrast, so if your characters have few shapes with flat colours, do backgrounds with textures, brush strokes, and some amount of detail. Lively animation should be combined with a soft and simple BG.
- Don't fall into the trap of complete world building, where everything has to be in perspective and 3D and no house on the street must be left out. Just create enough elements to indicate where we are - and then erase a bit.
- Don't fall into that other trap that all your artwork must be done in just one program, like in AS.
- Try to get more variety. There's so much more possible in design than in your average american TV animation.
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Re: Making Backgrounds

Post by Rainer » Fri May 15, 2015 12:56 am

Backgrounds take time, when you could be animating, and its possible that some people are more attracted to animating and some to creating backgrounds. So it might be time to start thinking about finding and collaborating with someone who likes to do backgrounds. If you want or have to do it all yourself, like Slowtiger says, don't get bogged in details and don't think you have to do everything in AS. I like Artrage as a very quick way to create oil or watercolor painted backgrounds - check out some examples like this one on YouTube.
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Re: Making Backgrounds

Post by SpaceBoy64 » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:58 pm

I use Lightwave 3D to make backgrounds. That way I can easily change camera angles.

I have also used actual watercolor on paper and then scanned it with manipulation in Photoshop.

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Re: Making Backgrounds

Post by dueyftw » Fri Jun 05, 2015 3:18 am

I have use the far-cry game engine for backgrounds.

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