Friday, October 10, 2014

Armand Baltazar's Illustrated Trilogy "Timeless"

Armand Baltazar, an artist and senior designer at Pixar, just inked a deal with HarperCollins for a three book illustrated series called "Timeless."

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the trilogy is "in the vein of Avatar and Harry Potter. The story centers on a boy — joined by a motley gang of friends — who is seeking to rescue his father from a Roman general after a 'time collision' has thrown together the past, present and future."

I asked Armand to share some insights into the inspiration, tools, and process behind his illustrations.

He says: "I would describe the look and feel of Timeless as an homage to my heroes from the golden age of illustration: NC Wyeth, Dean Cornwell, Norman Rockwell, Joseph Clement Coll to name a few, with classic influences that range from Ilya Repin, Anders Zorn, to Mariano Fortuny."

"I started out wanting to paint everything in oil-paint, but having to hold down a demanding full-time studio job made painting late nights and weekends too demanding and impractical. So now the majority of the work for the book is a blend of traditional and digital media."

"I begin with thumbnails. sometimes working all the way through to refined drawings or value comps. But often I'll resolve lighting design in my color keys. I will either scan the thumbnails and drawings into the computer or rough in a watercolor and gouache pass across the top and then scan that in."

I paint the paintings digitally using Photoshop and Painter. But I use these digital tools in a way that emulates watercolor, oil painting and traditional animation background painting. Using my drawing, and color-key as a guide, I paint from background to foreground."

"I often start blocking in the big graphic shapes of my composition, then my light and dark patterns leaving the shadows as thin simple statements and work towards opacity in the lights. The Flying car painting was painted more like a traditional watercolor saving my lights and working towards darker saturated values and color."

"I work on the painting in the computer using 2-3 simple ugly brushes that give me the tactile quality I'm looking for. I keep the painting flattened and overpaint and cut back over the shapes as I would in oil leaving the history of the brush decisions when possible."

"I especially love doing that when painting characters. Trying to get something that is a mix of Rockwell (painterly) and Frank Duveneck with nods towards impressionist color and light when the scene or lighting design calls for it."

Thanks for the insights, Armand, and best wishes on the project.
Before landing his job at Pixar, Armand has worked at ImageMovers Digital, Walt Disney Feature Animation, and DreamWorks SKG. He has worked on The Prince of Egypt, The Road to Eldorado, Spirit Stallion of the Cimmaron, Sinbad, Shark Tale, Flushed Away, The Bee Movie, Princess and the Frog, A Christmas Carol, and Cars 2.
Armand Baltazar's website


Paddy Schmidt said...

At first, the intended and forced switch from traditional to digital painting seemed a bit like a let down. But getting a look at the end result, I must say, it is hard to spot a difference of what I had imagined in oil. Great job for keeping the feel.

...oh, but most important: The girl on the character picture looks like a young Scarlett Johansson... :)

Tom Hart said...

Thanks for sharing this James! I'm so psyched to learn more about the project, and of course to see the final product. The influence of the giants of illustration and painting that Armand mentions is one of the big draws for me (as well as the irresistable time travel theme). I'm happy to see that those artistic influences do seem to be coming through.

David Glenn said...

Wow, this is all incredible. It's like imagination has been unleashed in this pictures.

Russell Dickerson said...

I love his work, and I was lucky enough to have a booth across from him at the first Spectrum Live show. I hope the series goes far, when he described it to me it sounded fascinating.

Gina Florio Sous said...

James, I came across Armand's booth at San Diego Comic-Con this year, and it was one of our favorite things we saw - even my non-artistic fiancé couldn't get over the beautiful paintings and the amazing ideas behind them. Armand wasn't at his booth at the time, so we left without further information on the project. What a delight to read about it here - thank you for this writeup!

Unknown said...

I am really excited to see this project finally become a reality! I met Mr. Baltazar at Spectrum Live in 2013 and got to hear a little bit about this project, it looks really, really amazing!