Tidy Town is a 2D animated graduation film made by Thirza van der Zee and me at the University of the Arts, Utrecht (HKU) – which I directed, wrote, and produced. The film is about a raccoon cub named Joy, she has a plan to get rid of the plastic trash that has overwhelmed her island.
While figuring out our style, characters, and environment, I also wrote the script. Tidy Town was going to be a fun but serious film, with a virtuous tone. Inspired by animations I loved when I was little. I wanted the visuals to be cute with a hint of realism.
CONCEPT ART – CHARACTERS
In an earlier version, the story was about three kids. They wanted to expose the damage Wolf\’s water bottle production had done to their island. They did so by making videos for their school, or the Tidy Town version of youtube: Wooftoob. This idea became too complicated for the amount of time that we had, so I rewrote the story. Eventually, we settled on one main character: Joy.
CONCEPT ART – ENVIRONMENT
While designing the environment, we had to cut more ideas to make the film less complicated. The little boat and the vending machines did not make the final cut.
CHARACTER DESIGNS – JOY AND LINNAEUS WOLF
I reviewed, gave feedback on, and adjusted the storyboard Thirza created and contributed scenes myself. Here too, a lot of our fun ideas had to be cut. Due to the delicate conflict of the story, it was the most difficult and time-consuming part of the production to get right.
I used vivid colours to accentuate Joy’s childlike innocence and contrasted those with dark clouded backdrops when the story takes on a more melancholic tone.
Backgrounds & Colour
After completing the storyboard and the layouts, I worked on the backgrounds. I also created a workflow for incorporating the use of Ebsynth in our project.
A selection of backgrounds based on layouts by Thirza van der Zee, Charlotte Lemmers, and Myself.
From keys to ebsynth
I have a preference for a painterly style in my animations. Ebsynth became a perfect solution. While the team worked in lightning speed to finish up the flat colours, I painted the keys to render in Ebsynth, and afterwards cleaning them up in Tvpaint, as sampled below.
During the animation production phase, I worked on both the visual effects and the character animation for Joy and Wolf. When all animation was completed, I adjusted some character shots for Joy, for the sake of consistency.
Selections & Awards