HN: Ms. Ito, could you describe your job in more details? Your job title is Color designer in this work.
Miyuki Ito: I think this is a unique job role in Japanese animation. In Japan, it is rare to have concept art at the beginning of animation production. With this title, a team that handles color consists of the background art department and myself, a color designer. Shinji Kimura, the art director, worked on background color design and color scripts and I handle the color design of characters, effects and CG models. So, it might be said that my role is being a color coordinator of characters. It’s hard to explain!
HN: What was your first mission for this film project?
Miyuki Ito: The first thing I did for the film was deciding the basic colors of each character after the visual design of all the characters completed.
HN: At that time, did you already have the image boards drawn by the background art department?
Miyuki Ito: Sometime I had, sometimes I didn’t. The process of color design for background art and characters were totally separate. Mr. Kimura was only responsible for the color of background art and I decide all the colors in the film except for background art. For example, to make a color script of a scene, Mr. Kimura decides on the colors of environments with nature and architecture and I manage the colors of all moving things in the scene, such as characters.
That is to say, what I do is manage the coloring of characters to fit in with the background art, which I received from the background art department, by considering the light in the environment, light reflectivity, color brightness and so on. So, the basic process entails having the background art drawn along with the visuals of the universe of each scene and the coloring of them, which are handled by Mr. Kimura, the art director. Then I set up colors of the characters to fit them into the background art properly.
HN: Ms. Ito, could you please let us know what did you take care of and what was difficult for you through the production of this film?
Miyuki Ito: The number of colors I can use for the main characters is few because their outfits are simple overall, like a white T-shirt and a trouser or a skirt. So, basically, their skin colors are the only thing I could have variation on using colors to express them in each scene. I think that is a difficult part of the film for me.
This is the film which goes back and forth between scenes on land and scenes in the sea, so I take care in the difference of how their skins look between the air and in the sea. For example, I made their skin colors a bit bluish by putting a kind of water filter with a light color contrast. On the other hand, in the scenes on the ground, their skin colors are clear and distinguishable. I take care in the colors of their eyes in detail when they are on the ground to make sure the audience can see their eye colors well.
Another difficult thing is the color selection for the abstract scenes, in which animators create the things I haven’t seen in real life and drawn, such as the scenes of “the festival”. I struggled with that a lot.
HN: It is my personal impression, but the color scheme through the scenes on land, in the sea, and of “the festival” managed to remain consistent throughout the film. For instance, even though you use very bright colors in the scenes of “the festival”, these colors do not deviate from the color palette of any other scenes in the film. So, the feeling of immersion in the scenes of the film is not broken at those scenes. In terms of adjusting to the colors of each scene, how did you communicate and work with Mr. Kimura, the art director?
Miyuki Ito: I have long experience working with Mr. Kimura, to the point where we understand each other with what to do without exchanging any words! I’ve always selected the colors by taking care in making the illustrations of characters not float nor sink in the background art.
Ayumu Watanabe: I think, surely, Ms. Ito and Mr. Kimura tries to read each other’s minds. If we imagine we are using playing cards, it makes me wonder if each of them had several possible cards in their minds that they later make known to each other. For example, if they had cards on the answers of the question “If the background art is like this, what colors would the characters be?”, they would select and present one card to each other after saying “Ready, set, go!”
Miyuki Ito: Very much so!
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