The Art of Finding Nemo

Learn why The Art of Finding Nemo is my favourite book for studying the use of colour and light in animation.

By far, one of my favourite art books is Pixar’s The Art of Finding Nemo.

As always, the book is filled with a wealth of visual development artwork covering the designs of the characters and environments featured within the film. However, what really stood out to me when I first got the book, and what continues to inspire me, are the large number of pastel paintings created by Production Designer Ralph Eggleston.

These paintings were often very small in size but really capture the colour and light of the underwater world beautifully.

Learning about Colour and Light

When trying to learn about colour and light for animation, often the resources available are tailored towards recreating reality. Obviously, the more we understand about the way that colour and lighting works, the easier it is to achieve our intended result, but it can still be hard to know how to stylise things in a believable but appealing way.

Studying animated films can be useful but I find that turning to pre-production artwork, which is used to define the look and feel of the film through colour and light, can be even more informative.

In films, colour and light are both used as storytelling tools. They can direct the eye or influence the mood of a scene in very effective ways. This becomes extremely obvious in the art books which enable you to see the visual development art for various parts of the film side by side.

Since so much artwork is generated while developing a film, only a small percentage ever makes it to the art books. As a result, each book will often have a different focus. Some are heavy on character or environment designs but, whilst The Art of Finding Nemo certainly features a good selection of these, its focus is definitely on the artwork which helped to define the mood of the film through colour and light.

My latest YouTube video explores The Art of Finding Nemo in more depth and I would definitely recommend studying the book to help understand the decisions that were made whilst developing the film.

Whilst books like The Art of Finding Nemo may not give you easy formulas you can apply to your work, I always find them inspiring and I feel that the more you study the visual development artwork, the more you can start to apply a similar thought process to your own work.

This, in turn, can only lead to better results.


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