christie tseng


BK: Villains are always fun to create and write for, so Book Three was a blast in this regard. Mike, Tim, Josh and I got to dream up a team of baddies who represented each of the four elements, but with rare and deadly skills. The designers and I hastily cranked out concept designs so the storyboard artists would have at least rough materials to work with at the start of the new season.

Designs by Bryan Konietzko, Christie Tseng, Angela Song Mueller, and Ki-Hyun Ryu. Color by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf.



MD: The wealth disparity between the rich and the poor in Ba Sing Se has become much worse since Aang first visited the city. Episodes like this one are very taxing for the entire design team, as there are many different locations and so many background characters that need to be fleshed out to make Ba Sing Se feel like a real, lived-in city. 

BK: Seeing all of these Lower Ring character designs imbued with so much personality makes me wish that every one of them somehow could have a spotlight moment on-screen. You can tell by these designs the middle Ring denizens are privileged to have more fortunate, less back-breaking lives than those in the severely oppressed Lower Ring. Finally, we have the elite Upper Ring citizens, people descended from families that have been wealthy for so long very few of them know what it means to actually do a day’s worth of honest work. 

Lower Ring residents by Christie Tseng. Middle and Upper Ring residents by Angela Song Mueller. Cleanup by Evon Freeman. Color by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf.


Female soldiers very nearly included in Kuvira’s army in the Legend of Korra finale.

Bryan Konietzko: I made a point of having several female officers of all different ranks designed for Kuvira’s military. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they were largely left out of the final animation. I didn’t supervise the background character assigning, but as the art director I ultimately have to take the blame.

So, I’m sorry! We made them, but you just don’t see them enough. Sigh …

Mecha pilot and corporal designs by Christie Tseng. Metalbender designs by Bryan Konietzko. Private and sergeant designs by Angela Song Mueller. Cleanup by Steve Hirt. Color by Silvia Filcak-Blackwolf.

Well, looks like I know my next cosplay!

BK: Now that we have photography in the Avatar world, it is really fun to make these family photos. Bumi looks like he was in that “awkward phase,” while young Kya was ridiculously adorable. Meanwhile, Baby Tenzin was just chilling. Character art by Christie Tseng. Character tones by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf. Painting by Emily Tetri.


The Krew’s Earth Kingdom wanted posters, from p. 114 of the Book 3 art book. 

Caption: “Team Avatar wanted posters. Translation: ‘By Royal Decree of the Earth Queen: Wanted by Her Majesty, the Earth Queen, for crimes against the Kingdom. You will be rewarded handsomely for information leading to this criminal’s capture.’ Designs by Christie Tseng and Christine Bian. Cleanup by Steve Hirt. Translation and calligraphy by S.L. Lee, PhD. Color by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf." 

…Except that can’t be all of the translation, because the left-hand column of characters is slightly different on each poster. The differences would include each person’s name, of course… but for some reason the top three characters of the left column are the same for Mako, Bolin, and Asami (only the last two to four represent actual names–I can recognize the characters "ma” [horse] for Mako and “lin” [forest] for Bolin).

I’d really like to know what those top three characters mean. :-/

Also, for some reason Korra’s left-hand column uses only the final two of the four characters that spell “Avatar,” followed by the two characters for her name. 


MD: Another location we revisit from the original series is the Southern Air Temple and its statue room. Both were significantly updated to reflect the style of Korra.

BK: I always like the idea of statues in the show, but the execution of them is another matter. It is hard to keep them drawn on model and painted well from various angles. To make matters worse, the spiral orientation of the Southern Air Temple statue room presents a tough challenge when trying to keep their placements consistent from shot to shot. I begged Mike to never write another scene in this location ever again!

Avatar statue designs by Christie Tseng. Paintings by Emily Tetri and Frederic Stewart. Wan and Raava and statue design by Bryan Konietzko. Aang statue design by Christie Tseng. Paintings by Emily Tetri.


MD: Twins seems to be an ongoing theme for us in the Avatar world. We had the elderly Lo and Li in the original series, fraternal twins Eska and Desna in Book 2, and now we have identical twins Wing and Wei, the jocks of the Beifong family. Here we see them as they were in Book 3 and three years later in Book 4. Designs and expressions by Christie Tseng. Color by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf. [x]
Exclusive Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 2 Trailer, Poster, And NYCC Panel Details
DreamWorks Animation and Netflix are bringing Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 2 to New York [...]

It’s official. This is the trailer we showed at Comic con now available for everyone to see. As well as a glimpse at our exclusive lithograph that we’ll be signing at NYCC this friday. It’s got just about every character from season 1 somewhere in it and maybe just a few from season 2. It’s based of that amazing Capcom parade piece by Kinu Nishimura. Composed by Christie Tseng and drawn by pretty much everyone on the crew.


BK: This wonderfully crafted family photo conveys so much about the individual characters. Wing and Wei as their own unit; Opal looking eager to please; Su radiating confidence and a hint of mischief; Baatar Sr. leaning on the strength of his wife; Huan enveloped in ennui and Baatar Jr. standing in the shadow of his father. 

MD: One of the best parts about creating Book Three was developing Su Beifong and her family. In the early development of Korra, Bryan and I had the idea of an elite Metal Clan, which evolved into Su’s family. We wanted Su to be very different from her half-sister, Lin, so we gave her a more outgoing personality and five children. In order to tie the Beifongs to the main story line of rebuilding the Air Nation, we decided that Su’s daughter, Opal, should be one of the new Airbenders. Twins seems to be an ongoing theme in the Avatar world. We had the elderly Lo and Li in the original series, fraternal twins Eska and Desna in Book Two, and now we have identical twins Wing and Wei, the jocks of the Beifong family. 

Original storyboard sketch by William Ruzicka. Finished design by Angela Song Mueller. Character tones by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf. Background painting by Emily Tetri. Su concepts by Bryan Konietzko. Su designs by Bryan Konietzko and Christie Tseng. Beifong family designs and expressions by Bryan Konietzko, Angela Song Mueller and Christie Tseng. Cleanup by Evon Freeman. Color by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf. 


A few preemptive words about Episode 408, “Remembrances”…

In a couple hours the eighth chapter of Korra Book 4 will be released online, and I suppose, if you are none the wiser, a few minutes into it you will feel duped and yell at your screen, “Hey! This is a crummy clips episode!” And that is (almost) exactly what it is––except we all worked really hard to make sure at the very least it isn’t crummy. I’m here to explain why we ended up having to do one. Sometime around a year and a half ago we were similarly duped on a large scale. We got the news from the higher-ups that our Book 4 budget was getting slashed, almost to the tune of an entire episode’s budget. We had two options: 1) let go a significant number of crew members several weeks early, or 2) make a clips episode. We never considered the first option. We weren’t going to do that to our crew, and even if we were callous enough to do so, we never would have been able to finish the season without them. But having grown up on TV in the ‘80s and '90s, we all dread clips episodes, where characters sit around saying, “Remember that time when…” and leftover footage is reheated for no one’s enjoyment. Anyone who suffered through TNG’s “Shades of Gray” knows what I’m talking about.

Anime fans know this is a common occurrence in Japanese series as well. In fact, as Mike hung his head in disappointment at our fate, I remembered how one of my favorite anime series, Samurai Champloo, made what I thought was a really awesome and clever clips episode. They mixed about 5 minutes of new footage in with the old, and set up a context where the characters would be reflecting on past events while narrating over them, offering new insights or at least providing some humor. I pitched this angle to Mike and he agreed this was the best way to turn this big old lemon into some lemonade.

Back on Avatar, we had something that functioned as a sort of clips episode, though it was all new animation and really hard to make, Episode 317, “The Ember Island Players.” Our heroes went to a play where they saw themselves and their tales performed by actors on stage. It was simultaneously a reckoning for the characters before they headed into the denouement, and a lighthearted romp where we got to poke fun at our own show before things got really serious in the remaining episodes. Korra’s “Remembrances” ended up serving the same function, albeit with old footage instead of a newly animated play. There is about 5 minutes of new footage, wonderfully animated by Studio Mir, and a bunch of funny and touching narration from the characters. There are also some fun chibi heads and other treats in there to spice up the old footage.

What started out as a reluctant chore ended up being a really fun episode to make, and in the end I truly love it. Mike did an awesome job directing it and storyboarding all the chibi hilarity, as well as overseeing the wonderful script by Josh Hamilton, Katie Mattila, and Tim Hedrick. Joaquim Dos Santos, Ryu Ki Hyun, and Lauren Montgomery drew fantastic storyboards for the new footage (particularly Lauren’s insane Varrick posing). Lots of other folks worked their tails off on this one, namely Amaris Calvin, our animatics editor; Christie Tseng, our character designer who drew and colored all of the final chibi art; Matt Gadbois, our After Effects artist; and Chris Hink, our final picture editor. Last but not least, Aran Tanchum and Vinny Guisetti on foley, Benjamin Wynn on sound design, and a stellar new score with all your favorite hits by Jeremy Zuckerman. And plenty of other fine folks I’m forgetting!

So now you know what it is and why it happened. I hope you do end up enjoying it after all, especially as a last lighthearted, nostalgic romp before POOP. GETS. REAL. And then the series is done.

Love, Bryan

P.S. I forgot to mention our cast’s amazing performances, especially John Michael Higgins’ million words a minute as Varrick in act three!


Joaquim Dos Santos: This production has more costume changes than any other show I’ve ever worked on! But how fun is it to see the characters we all know and love in their party duds? 

Michael Dante DiMartino: When I was writing this episode, I knew I wanted the score to feature some of composer Jeremy Zuckerman’s jazzy tunes, so I asked him what instruments made up his ensemble and called them out in the script. And rather than have band members be generic musicians, we thought this was a funny way to bring back some of our old characters. It’s probably not the most epic return for Tahno, but it turns out he’s one heck of a trombonist! 

Character designs from “The Last Stand” by Angela Song Mueller, Bryan Konietzko, Christie Tseng; instrument designs by Joseph Aguilar (The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series, Book 4: Balance, pp. 162-163).


MD: I always enjoy it when TV shows jump ahead between seasons. It makes me feel like the characters and the world have a life of their own while I’m not watching. So with Book Two, we jumped ahead six months. Mako is now a cop, Asami runs Future Industries, Bolin’s trying to keep the Pro-bending dream alive, and Korra’s growing more frustrated with Tenzin’s airbending training. And with a new season come new outfits!

BK: Once the looks of the main characters are well established, I like to vary them with costume and hair changes where it makes sense. These variations often end up being production headaches, as we try to keep track of which outfit is supposed to be worn in each sequence. I am quite pleased with how Korra’s long-sleeved outfit turned out; it was meant to be a colder-weather outfit for her time back in the Southern Water Tribe. In hindsight, I wish we had just used it for all of Book two, but that was my bad call not to do so.  Korra outfit design and color by Bryan Konietzko. Below: Korra expressions by Ki-Hyun Ryu. Cleanup by Studio Pierrot. Color by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf.

JDS: Mako’s police uniform went through a couple rounds of concepts before we settled on this final design, above. Oddly enough, all the concepts had him wearing his red scarf neatly tucked into his jacket. For the record, I was all for it, but Bryan made a last-minute decision to remove it from his final design. Looking back, I suppose it would be strange if a police officer showed up at a crime scene wearing a ratty red scarf. Mako winter coat design by Bryan Konietzko. Mako police uniform design by Christie Tseng. Color by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf.

Gif-Club Sketchbook 2014!

It’s that time of the year again! Anime Expo is coming up and we’ll be selling another sketchbook. We added more artist to this year’s roster, so more content and more drawings! See you there!

Anime Expo 2014

Artist Alley: B29/30

Artist: Brianne Drouhard, Tanner Johnson, Christie Tseng, Will Feng, Michael Chang, Fill Marc Sagadraca, Eugene Lee, Jeff Lai, Grant Alexander and William Niu.

Price: $20


BK: To this day i get asked if I based Aang’s design on Mike and his perfectly round, wonderfully smooth bald head. So when it came time to design the first Avatar, the joke was that I was going to base him on me: scrawny, lanky, with a narrow, triangular head. I never had hair as cool as Wan’s, but hey, it’s a fantasy. Wan concept by Bryan Konietzko. Designs by Bryan Konietzko and Christie Tseng. Cleanup by Jin-Sun Kim. Color by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf.



MD: The Airbenders are back! When Bryan, the writers, and I began discussing Book Three, one of the first ideas was to give Jinora her airbending tattoos. It’s the perfect symbol for the return of the Airbenders, and she had shown a lot of airbending and spiritual prowess. But we wanted to wait until the end of the season to do it, so we let her be the one who rallies the Airbenders to help save Korra, proving to her father that she has become a true master and leader. 
Designs by Angela Song Mueller and Christie Tseng. Cleanup by Steve Hirt. Color by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf.