|Detail from Frank Frazetta's poster art for Fire and Ice, from Frazetta.net|
Director Robert Rodriguez announced a few days ago that he has completed a deal with Sony to produce a live action version of the 1983 Ralph Bakshi animated film Fire and Ice, based on the artwork of Frank Frazetta.
I was one of two background painters on the film. The other was my friend Tom Kinkade, who later on became the "Painter of Light." Each of us had to produce about 600 paintings at a rate of about 11 per week, while working on our instructional book "The Artist's Guide to Sketching" on the weekends.
The layouts were drawn by Tim Callahan on illustration board. He started with photos of the actors, who blocked out each scene on a soundstage. Animators used the rotoscoped live action as a starting point, but then used their imaginations to create the action. The soundstages had ramps and scaffolding, which we had to turn into jungles and volcanos and ice caverns.
We painted the foreground elements on acetate overlays. Each sequence was held within a specific color gamut, usually with the color of the sky keying the mood of everything else.
Here's one of the paintings I did of a spooky forest. We were looking at Frazetta's paintings for inspiration, but also at N.C. Wyeth, Arthur Rackham, Frederic Church, and a lot of other artists. Frazetta and Bakshi often visited the background room to hang out with us and talk about art. We had a lot of good laughs together.
Here's another establishing shot that I did, influenced not just by Frazetta, but also by Roy Krenkel and the Orientalists. It will be fun to see what Rodriguez does with filmmaking tools that are very different from what we had in the early 1980s.
Here's the trailer for the original film (YouTube link)