Color script for Santa

I’ve written before about color scripts—an idea that animators use to tell a movie’s story with color.  Here again is the color script I created for The Year Without a Santa Claus.  This is a longish book—40 pages instead of the usual 32.  The story starts out with Santa feeling low, follows him as he cancels toy production for the year, jumps to follow Ignatius Thistlewhite (the kid who saves the day), then returns to Santa.

The color script begins and ends with neutrals—black, white and grays.  The section showing the interiors of Santa’s workshop and house boasts warm colors—yellows, oranges, reds.  The section following Ignatius uses a lot of what I think of as 1950s colors—mint green, Naples yellow, dusty rose.

In all the neutrally toned scenes with Santa, he always has a small bit of warm color around him—like the bedside light when he wakes up or the blaze of light coming from his house as Santa takes off on his Christmas Eve ride.

0 replies
  1. Jeff K
    Jeff K says:

    Interesting. I didn’t realize you used a color script.
    What colors are on your palette to start? Does your palette change by the job? I know artists who always use the same limited range and others who are palette promiscuous.

    • johnmanders
      johnmanders says:

      That’s a good question. Here are the colors that are always on my palette.

      I mix neutrals (grays) myself. I also mix a range of flesh tones (depending on ethnicity of the character. then red added for nose cheeks & ears, a bit of blue added for eyes and lower face. Pure colors: on the top left are Brilliant Yellow, Yellow Deep, Cad Orange, Cad Red, Red Ochre. On the top right are Violet, Purple, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine, Turquoise. Along the bottom are Zinc White and Jet Black, and the neutrals. Brown and impure colors are Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Raw & Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and Van Dyke Brown.

      I mix colors specific to each project, bit since as soon as one project’s finished I start the next (and sometimes they overlap) I don’t wipe the palette clean in between. I’m currently painting forest scenes, so lots of cool colors—greens, blues, purples. The next job takes place in West Texas, so I’ll want to heat it up with warm colors.

      Note to the crowd: My friend Jeff is a talented fine artist. He & I used to work together in the art department of Fan-Sy Productions, practicing a weird primitive form of art known as ‘paste-up’—preparing art for the printing press—in those dark days before the Digital Age. Hey, Jeff, where can we click to see your paintings?


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