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All artwork and text is copyrighted by Frederick Gardner, unless otherwise attributed to the respective copyright owner, it is illegal to publish or print any such artwork or text without written permission by the artist or copyright owners.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Contour Continuation

Early in school at CalArts, I learned to watch for tangents in my designs. My instructors, Bob Winquist and Mike Giamo, would train us to recognize these design errors and avoid them at all costs.
As I studied animation throughout the years, I noticed some artists would intentionally create tangents to make a design statement. The result is, in my opinion, visually striking. I started using this "Contour Continuation" technique as a background designer at Warner Bros Classics. Contour Continuation is the lining up of shapes to continue a contour (or directional element) across the composition. Sometimes this technique is extremely successful and beautiful, other times, it is subtle and almost invisible.

This background design was for a theatrical short, "Nina the Hyena", directed by Disney animator, Dave Kuhn. The look was graphic and stylized. The environment was the African savanna during severe drought. My challenge was to create something visually unique that did NOT resemble "The Lion King".

I have used "Contour Continuation" to create a flowing rhythm to the composition. As the camera pans through the scene, the landscape "flows" by the camera like water so lacking in the environment. The final effect resembles a heat wave. Pay particular attention to the dead tree branches hugging the contour of the hills behind them.

Production Design: Frederick Gardner