Animation &Independent Animation &Layout & Design 23 Oct 2009 07:47 am

Pups of Liberty – Production Art

- Yesterday, I posted the first part of a look at a short film, Pups of Liberty. It included an interview with Bert & Jennifer Klein the Producer/Directors (and so much more).

Along with the interview response, they sent me a wealth of gorgeous artwork from various phases of the production, and I’ll try to get most of it in today. The text descriptions, below, are written by their Production Designer, James Lopez.

You can view a trailer from their film here.

All images copyright © 2009 Picnic Productions


Pups of Liberty Color Script by James Lopez

For the colors, warm colors were chosen to represent the dogs’
surroundings and, in contrast, cool colors to represent the cats.

To start the film, the colors were to portray a pretty town but not
a vibrant one. Only as hope comes alive and tensions run high (The
Boston Tea Party & The Riot) are the more vibrant colors introduced.

Color influences came from some classic Disney films and a desire to
use natural lighting (direct & indirect) as opposed to “staged” lighting.

The story of the movie is left somewhat unconcluded so at the finale,
rather than going full-blown with color, there is a hint at what would be
to come (as the story’s narration suggests).


Pups of Liberty - Drawing Trees


Pups of Liberty - In the style of Anton Pieck

Initally, the backgrounds were going to be influenced by the stylings
of Dutch artist Anton Pieck. Studies were made to see what the style
would look like with a Colonial theme.

A composite was made with the paint study and the character over
a parchment texture. We we were happy with the result of how the
drawn character married into the drawn environment.

It was a nice style but it involved a unique application that was a labor
to produce and proved to be impoprobable so we explored other, more
traditional styles.

We later settled for a pen and ink application on vellum paper in the
rough drawing style of the late Ken Anderson. It allowed us to stay
loose and if there were any mistakes or changes to be made, they
could still be done on paper.


The top two illustrations are visual development for the color and
lighting treatment on the houses. The desired effect was trying to
capture the drama of the shadows cast from the trees by the sun
set low on the horizon.

The middle illustration is a clean-up layout by James Lopez

The bottom illustration is a Production Background painted by James Lopez


Pups of Liberty - Water Effects

Illustration (upper left) Clean-Up Layout by James Lopez
(upper right) Production Background by Barry Atkinson

(below left) water studies by James Lopez
(below right) Production still


The above images represent a page from the Director’s workbook
for Sc. 17. Storyboard drawings are by Jennifer Klein.


This is the Layout for Scene 17
done by James Lopez.

The QT movies below are Pencil Tests of scenes by
Mark Henn.

Click left side of the black bar to play.
Right side to watch single frame.


8 Responses to “Pups of Liberty – Production Art”

  1. on 23 Oct 2009 at 12:12 pm 1.Michael Barrier said …

    A couple of things…

    The colonists are depicted as dogs and the British as cats, and that’s simply lazy: the colonists of the early 1770s most often thought of themselves as Englishmen suffering abuse at the hands of other Englishmen, and not as the subjects of a foreign power. If depicting the characters as animals was to make any sense, the British should have been depicted as one breed of dog–English bulldogs, perhaps–and the Americans as another. The character designs could have been as simple as they are now.

    It’s astonishing to me that anyone would undertake a political/historical film with animal characters without having read Art Spiegelman’s Maus (Bert) or even being aware of its existence (Jennifer). Maus is not an obscure title, but rather one of the most famous and widely respected books of recent decades, the book that validated the graphic novel as a literary form. If the Kleins had bothered to read it, they might have made a film that–on the evidence of its trailer–did not bear so strong and unfortunate a resemblance to weak Disney films like the 1973 Robin Hood.

    Pups of Liberty is the kind of film that everyone (me included) wants to like, and I’ll certainly seize any opportunity to see it that comes along. But its Disney associations make me apprehensive. Superficiality runs very deep at today’s Disney, so deep that a lot of the people working there seem to have no conception of just how shallow their work is.

  2. on 23 Oct 2009 at 2:12 pm 2.Doug said …

    Wow…that last comment was truly biting and is trying hard to cleverly say what Mr. Barrier seem to be unwilling to say, that this film is superficial. And also calling them on the carpet for not having read a book that you have read…for shame, for shame. Tsk Tsk.

    I think attempting to make both the Brits and the colonists the same breed would potentially cause confusion and that the choice of using cats was a good one.

    I also feel that the audience whom this film is intended (based on what was said in the interview) is just having their eyes opened to American history and would use this film merely as an entertaining entry into all that history. I don’t base my world view on what I saw in cartoons as a kid and I don’t believe many people do.

    Thanks to Michael for covering it in all this detail.

  3. on 23 Oct 2009 at 4:07 pm 3.Jonah Sidhom said …

    I really wish they had the time and resources to do the backgrounds in the style of Anton Pieck. I’m saving that picture to my computer because I like it so much.

  4. on 23 Oct 2009 at 5:01 pm 4.David Nethery said …

    You can write off the film as superficial if you want and opine that the character designs should have been handled differently , but really what does the graphic novel “Maus” have to do with this animated film ? The whole “Maus” thing started from one stray comment on the CartoonBrew thread, but I guess the rest of us didn’t get the memo declaring that no one can do a funny animal cartoon on a historical theme now without first referencing “Maus”.

  5. on 27 Oct 2009 at 11:48 am 5.R.Dress said …

    Great pencil tests! The film looks great.

  6. on 09 May 2010 at 6:04 pm 6.Olin Strnad said …

    She is not just a good actress,singer-dancer

  7. on 19 May 2011 at 2:31 pm 7.Richard Gaines said …

    This film is done very nicely! I was just wondering where you did the actual animation production.

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