Animation Production Diary – Of magic dust and doors

Having reached apotheosis through a conquering of the dark the Melancholic Wife is ready to return to the ‘unromantic walls of her real life’. But first she’ll need a doorway and one dutifully manifests from the dissipating energies of her embracing and dancing with the light. The main task of these two scenes was an exercise in special effects animation. The light effects that create the door and the few small sparkles that enter through it in the following scene were all animated directly in Photoshop, no pencilling involved this time. The animation of the door itself appearing will be done using masks in After Effects as will the animation of the door opening, using the corner pin tool.

Scene Twenty-Three digital inks.
Scene Twenty-Four digital inks and pencil shaded background.
The rendering of the background of Scene Twenty-Four was created by Sadhbh Lawlor over an A3 printed copy of the original inks. Sadhbh has a very strong ability in achieving tonal depth with pencilling and I wanted to pursue this style to create a strong contrast with the simple backgrounds of the dream space. The shading also mirrors the shading of the claws which grab the Melancholic Wife, indicating that though they are imagined, they draw their strength from real experiences.

Background inspiration

One of my favourite production design styles was employed on the Disney feature 101 Dalmatians. I really admire the sketchy line work that they used and the blocks of colour overlapping the outlines of objects. For me it contributed hugely to the sense of energy in the film and I hope that my backgrounds can be as effective in communicating, in this instance, a sense of otherworldliness to high energy to calm.


My film will be employing a black and white aesthetic in keeping with the comic art from the original story. In producing the backgrounds I also wanted to hold to the rendering style of the comic books. To that end I drew the backgrounds in pencil and inked them using the same techniques and tools as I used on the comic book. I see this as the base layer which may or may not require further working up. This depends on how the background will play with the animation. I’m conscious that the style was used for static images and may very well require more when interacting with motion.

Opening Scene

 Floorboards exposed

Floorboards painted

Between Floors

Dark Stage

Gallery Room first view

 Gallery Room Front View

Gallery Room Pan

Gallery Room Overhead

Backgrounds Work in Progress

Opening scene background concepts with minimal noise and halftone patterns over scanned note paper.

Climactic scene background explorations using different blending effects with a fabric texture overlay.

Same scene, this time using a granite pattern overlay. This has created a kind of star-field effect which is interesting. I also added a slight blur to the house spot for the last rough, which I think would add to any of the concepts.

Background Colour Tests

With most of the film happening in a dream space, which exists in black and white, I am curious about the idea of bringing colour into the film when the Melancholic Wife returns to the ‘unromantic walls of her real life’. I created a few colour tone tests to acclimatize to the possibility.
 Blue tones

 Yellow tones

Green tones