Here is a step by step of my process for designing La Muerte's Castle for the animated film The Book of Life.
First we had to get something quick for the Reels. I was very busy Art Directing and trying to find the time to design this. I really wanted to do this design from the beginning of production because I knew there would be a lot of opportunity for beautiful colorful design in the Land of the Remembered. I really wanted to make a strong beautiful silhouette that at first read, looks like the traditional mexican tree of life.
This was the first rough sketch for the composition that was going to be in the film. I had to design and compose to a 2.35x1 aspect ratio so it was important that the castle was much wider than it was tall so it read as a grand final place to end up at the end of the parade
I did this drawing based on the overall shape of the initial rough sketch. I wanted to flesh out more of the design ideas in the castle. I was playing with the idea of including Klimt's tree of life elements and elements of Antonio Gaudi and more specifically Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in spain. The concept of organized chaos was all over in the Land of the Remembered and this idea is very apparent in Gaudi's work as well.
this was to see how it was playing off the dark backdrop as that was the plan in the film. Jorge our director was very protective of this design and I really wanted to make sure he was included in every part of the process to give his feedback and make sure I was hitting the look he was expecting.
Next was the color rough, I tried to get the colors looking nice first before going into all the detail, much like how you would approach a plein air landscape painting traditionally. I really had fun with this one, and spent about 45 min to an hour getting it to this stage. Once I get this where I like it, I feel a sense of relief because the rest is just cleaning it up and drawing with the colors that work.
This was where I left off before using it in the film. The rest of our team took this painting and detailed much more and put it in the film. This design was one of my favorites that I was able to work on.