This image of Hellboy is probably no surprise to you. In fact, there's a good chance it's what started you on the trail to this blog in the first place. Mike Mignola wanted Hellboy to have a different style than what he does in the comics. He choose Sean "Cheeks" Galloway from a number of strong contenders. There were artists auditioning from animation, comics and random Internet galleries. Cheeks was a standout; everyone liked his artwork. But was it Hellboy?
Mike said it was. We're trying to make the character look as much like Cheeks' style as we can. It's not easy. Cheeks has always worked intuitively and never for a moving image. So we have a couple of artists working to analyze his style and create model sheets so that storyboard artists and animators will know how to draw him in any position or action. But there's one thing about Sean's piece of art that is nothing like our movie, the background.
We need backgrounds that will suck the viewer into Hellboy's world. The audience should see the slime on a crypt wall glisten and the gold in a goblin's trove shine. Fog must be wispy and transparent, and blood shiny and wet. Although we could create graphic symbols for all those things that would fit into that background style behind Hellboy, I worry that they would be appreciated for their graphic beauty instead of communicating atmosphere and mood. Here are some backgrounds we're experimenting with.
If you read BPRD from Dark Horse Comics (and you should) you know the organization moved from its cozy headquarters in Connecticut to an abandoned military installation in the Rockies. That's where our BPRD lives. It's a huge installation built for "Area 51" type research. Most of the computers and equipment are too big to move so our guys just plug in their PCs and Macs and work around them.
But there's no denying the graphic elements of Mike's world. So here's our rule so far. Wherever the action happens is fully detailed. Anything beyond that plane gets simplified to two or three tones. Beyond that it's simplified to two or even just a silhouette. You can see the technique better in the painting of the alley way. It has to be touched up. The original background had more color which you can glimpse through the steps of the stairs on the left but it gives you an idea. It also shows how we may differentiate the planes with color. The action of this scene will be in the purple/violet alley. The areas in green may as well be in a different world. Mike was as excited about this style as he was when he first saw Cheeks' color Hellboy. We're still refining things as production builds up steam but I think we'll end up with a unique look. -- Tad