Importance of Dreaming

“BG Process” or “Torture by Birchbark”

My Background Process or as I like to call it “Torture by Birchbark”

I probably should have started with my BG process at the beginning of all this Background business, but such is art. For me it has no beginning, no end, only doing and not doing. So I guess this blog will be true to my artistic process in its details, as well as in its execution.

These BG’s I am working on are from a part in the story where the main characters are running away and scared. I wanted to convey a sense of fear, and danger, so I wanted to pick colors that would immediately convey that feeling. Sometimes I just like to find other art or photos that give me the feeling I want to convey, then I just steal those colors! YOINK! So I found a couple great mood reference with Reds and Turquoise:

These are some of the BG’s that were inspired by the complimentary color scheme:

Here’s a breakdown of the hollow log Background working in photoshop from a pencil sketch:

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 6.00.18 PM
Storyboard-Owl & Fox run through hollow log, I got real fancy with those Foreground trees! 

In designing the layout, I wanted to create FOCUS and FLOW. There are arrows leading the eye in the direction of the movement which will be the characters running from Left to Right. -> I tried to create focus using contrast with the large Black hole of the log, pulling the eye to the action.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 6.00.35 PM
Rough sketch of Layout

The background will be PANNING and I want to have separate elements I can move independently to create depth of field. I have foreground trees and background trees I can move on separate layers in the animation.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 6.01.59 PM
Linework, FG and BG trees

It is cool to make all elements work for you in a scene. If you don’t know why something is there, get rid of it, every piece does a job or it get’s freaking fired out on its ass! There’s no room for freeloaders in this BG! The birch bark markings sometimes form faces, and for this scene I used frowns for the fear (in other happy scenes the birch bark is smiling). And that is why this birch bark is torturing me!!! All the little marks, on every freaking tree!!! WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING??? Just when you think, I’m on the last one, you zoom out a bit to find a whole other freaking forest!!! This BG is light on the birch bark! and as You can see I couldn’t even be bothered with doing the foreground trees. That was a…style choice…yeah a choice I made, on purpose and stuff.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 6.02.30 PM
Adding Color and details

Then comes the FUN FUN FUN part! WHEEEEEEEE adding spots for texture! This freaking spot brush I’m using is like AH-MAZING!~ I’m in love with it, and I want to marry it and have its babies.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 6.02.45 PM
Adding spots for simple texture

And if that wasn’t enough spots, MORE SPOTS!!! Yes, what every great painting needs! Seriously though, texture is super cool! I recommend it all around. Can you go TOO crazy with texture? I’ll let you know after I’m done making out with this spot brush!

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 6.03.10 PM
More spots! You can’t have enough spots. And Voila! Finished BG

And with that, I think this blog has finally caught up to me in real time. I am finishing up a side project, which has been really beneficial in clearing my brain of birch bark for a bit. It have always had several projects on the go so I would be able to move from one to the other as boredom ensued, but this is the first time I have ever consciously abandoned a project for a period of time. I highly recommend it! I know it is good to step away from work, but I usually can’t leave my work alone for long, maybe a day or two, they’re my babies! They need me! Constantly picking away, turing them into fine upstanding works of art. BUT leaving my baby alone has been truly inspiring. I first stopped thinking about it all together, maybe like a parent who needs to get away from their haranguing kids for a weekend. And you are like YES FREEDOM! But then after a couple days you start to think, I wonder what my babies are doing? hmmmm wouldn’t my baby look cute in this outfit, why did I ever leave my baby ALONE I’m a bad mother, I better get back to haranguing my baby! AND THEN you end up with a whole new idea for the background and animation of a multi-seasonal scene in your animated short film! CHA-CHING! It’s probably not good that I take a break from one work with another work? I may want to seek help for that, but it’s going smooth so far, so I’m gonna let it ride!

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 7.54.27 PM

Well I guess EVERYTHING is a freaking process to YOU Schaef! UGGGGHHH you sound like every art teacher I ever had! I suppose you are right, things take time. But what about when you want things to happen FAST!!! The universe is a PROCESS? What does that even mean? It makes me think of processed fish sticks for some reason. Mmmmm delicious battered universe fish sticks with ketchup. LaLaLa La la, I’m the universe, moving along a conveyor belt, getting ready for my crispy coating. I wonder what unprocessed universe would taste like? Disorder. It’s funny to follow a process for something like art, since the best art always breaks rules. Is it better to know the rules, and then break them or just be oblivious and never learn them? Even though I preached the process, as an art teacher, students were always asking me for the “tips & tricks”. I frequently felt like a magician, because I DID know tricks, and they would often OOO and AHH, and even applaud! BUT the problem is, that without all the skill and experience to back up the tricks, you are going to need to use a lot of smoke and mirrors to pull it off. How is David Copperfield still hot, he’s almost freaking 60? Magic I guess. So hopefully I will be able to use some of my magic for good, or at the very least to LOOK good well into my 60’s god damn it! My fight with Process continues. Sometimes I feel like I want to just punch Process in the face, or gag it, throw it in the trunk and push the car off a bridge. But then when I am lost, Process is my BFF again, and we go riding off into the sunset, until I find some other shiny object to steal my interest. Ooo maybe that is my process, a never ending breakup/makeup WITH PROCESS process. IS THAT ENOUGH PROCESS FOR YOU SCHAEF??? One more just for good luck-process.


Follow my production blog for more production stuff about my animated short and my steady decline into the abyss of creativity.



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