My Trolls demo reel is up! So proud that something so unconventional ended up on the big screen.
Concept art Fabrication Photography Editing Compositing: Priscilla Wong
Aftereffects animation 3d transitions 3d effects post production: Erik Tillmans
Also, my interview from the Trolls Art of Book.
Tell me how the concept of the scrapbook evolved. When were you brought into the process?
I was brought in fairly early on the scrapbook concept. It represents Poppy’s hand in narration, so we knew finding the right look would be crucial. It was challenging to tell the simplified version of our story in the scrapbook medium that is inherently busy. It ultimately came down to balancing specific textures within graphic shapes. I edited until it was right.
The first phase of excitement led to inventions that were purely unedited. I only had scraps of materials I brought from home and items I scavenged from around the studio. For example, tin foil was borrowed from the PDI kitchen and used for metallics. When I needed a textural framing element, I found peppermint and crushed it to form a heart shape. I cut up sponges to create a Bergen’s eyebrows. Kendal had requested a rainbow to be made out of hair. I wandered around feeling perplexed until I stumbled upon a rainbow afro wig, a souvenir from Madagascar 3. I flattened and seperated the strands with a hair iron, then built an arc. It felt a bit like the “Unconventional Materials Challenge” in Project Runway. We were thrilled! But when we presented to the Mike and Walt, everything was so articulated that it departed from the film. The tone felt too mature. It needed to look like a scrapbook, not a stop motion film. Fortunately, the sponge brows and rainbow hair stuck around.
The second phase was focused more on looking more like a scrapbook. I used a lot of store bought materials as a way to show this is an accessible medium. Stickers and border accessories were heavily relied on as scrapbook symbols. Since the color palette was so primary, it felt too young. Mike and Walt wanted it to be specific to the Trolls world, which has a foundation of Scandinavian design. I ended up removing all elements that distracted from the story. After manipulating the colors digitally and adding elements that indicate a Scandinavian hand made nature, we finally found a look that everyone was happy with.
Have you always worked with felt, fabrics? Were there any specific challenges or direction you received from Mike and Walt?
Since my teens I developed a deep love for fashion and design. I would make all my clothes and learn by reverse engineering runway pieces. I also embroidered shoes and made jewelry. I was fascinated by how silhouettes and lush materials could transform a person into any character in another world. I stopped when I got serious about being an artist in animation. I never expected to be able to marry the two art forms. It was coincidental that as I began to work on Trolls, knit wear and 70s fashion was making a huge comeback. Suddenly inspiration was everywhere. I felt as though the whole film resonated with a chic aesthetic that is relevant.
Mike and Walt were very specific about tone, humor and sound effects. One of the greater challenges was to reflect the irreverent humor of the film in the scrapbook style. Since my nature is to execute things impeccably, the main criticism of the early scrapbook pages is that they looked too perfect. A way to incorporate humor into such a simple style was to make things look imperfect. Mike wanted to see the hand of the artist. It needed to look handmade and effortless. This meant working cruder, with more feeling and less precision. After establishing the look of the scrapbook, their direction forced me to think more like a film maker than an illustrator. I now take consideration for camera moves, staging, transitions, animation and effects. The work demanded me to setup a mini pipeline for myself. Currently, I deliver animated gifs as proof of concept. Then, I craft the physical pages and do photo shoots. I am pretty elated to be able to do this for a living.
How many pages did you create? Any favorite?
15 pages. My favorite page is the Foot Print wide shot at the beginning of Poppy’s journey. Its the perfect mix of colors and textures that represent the Trolls world intruded by Bergens.
How many difference colors of felts do you think you used?
This is an estimate:
98 colors of felt. 220 colors of paper.
I’m sure it might be hard to guess, but any idea how many total pieces of felt you cut /created?
I counted. 1,751 pieces.
How long did each page take to create?
2-3 weeks depending on complexity.
Finally - what is your title / credit on the film?
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NYX Color Mascara is on my brows and let me tell you that this stuff is hard to get off! You have to use an oil based makeup remover or you’ll be stuck with it forever!
NYX colored mascara in Perfect Pear
NYX jumbo pencil in Milk
Coastal Scents Hot Pots in Neon Bright Pink, Vibrant Lime Green, Tangelo Tint, and Deep Grape
Blue eyeliner pencil from beauty supply
Take Me To Brazil Palette for lower lash line
Elf Lock & Seal
NYX Glitter Mania in Disco Ball