I was inspired by some suggestions that I should keep the backgrounds of my movie simple like the Spanish pre-school animated television series, Pocoyo. I thought it was a good idea and would help me focus on the animation more. The textures and renders are great and have a very tactile clay-ish feel to them.
However, my backgrounds couldn't be THAT simple as they had some essential elements (as seen in my animatic) like the shops, the car and the park. I wanted to keep it as minimalistic as I could. So I modelled some stuff in Maya that I thought the backgrounds should look like.
I started with the trees in the park and basically played around with simple shapes and color combinations to get a result I liked. I liked the idea of the whole world in the movie to be a bit surrealistic ‒ similar to reality but not close enough.
These are a few of the trees that I liked the most. I think my favorite is the one with the pentagonal indentations. I also modelled a few houses that I thought might appear in the background as he is walking his walks.
I think the idea was to have houses that I could use to look flat from one angle if I needed to. I could place them straight on in from of the camera so that they remain simplistic and don't distract from the shot. I wanted to try out some color options, maybe to change in the background as his mood changes from sad to happy.
The most important part of the backgrounds was the shop itself, where he would go to buy his smile.
I really wanted the shops to be inspired from circus tents, as the commodity sold in my story, smiles, wouldn't really be found at just another shop. It had to be "different". Fun. Inviting. The colors on circus tents are very bright and attractive and inspire curiosity. "Come in..see all these unreal things we have!"
So I tried my hand at creating shops which would remind you of circuses. I wanted the same things for the shops as I did for the houses, to be flat from one angle if I needed them to be. I still need to work on colors but these are some I really like.
I still need to decide on which one I'm going to use and it would still need a banner and rate posters, but I'm happy with these designs. It will be important to make sure the character fits into this world, and doesn't seem like he's out of place.
Am looking forward to doing some test renders on the backgrounds to see how they will appear with lights and occlusion. :)
Also, here's fun example of Pocoyo!