Continuing with the last post's theme of using reference material to create a suburban background, I made some obvious choices and came up with this:
A studio would have an art director overseeing background work so as to maintain the look and feel of the project. I doubt if the uninspiring background I drew would pass muster. In fact, I doubt if it would be approved beyond the blue pencil stage.
You'd probably want more dramatic angles; maybe a height perspective. Whenever you have the opportunity watch Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated. Buildings are always featured from a bird's eye view or a worm's eye view. In either case, the effect is melodramatic. This is the very obvious way we create interest in our sets and then draw attention to our characters and the action of the cartoon. Makes sense, doesn't it?
Maybe we ought to try drawing a couple of established background shots before continuing. Here's a couple that I like:
Note the background: enough info to convey hilly San Francisco but otherwise extremely simple. A squiggly line, one side painted green, with some translucent rectangles to represent buildings.
This set would be an excellent drawing exercise because there it satisfies 2 competing priorities: an impulse to "overdraw" and make things look almost photo-realistic (shading, perspective, color) but also the necessity to keep the composition very simple. Melodramatic, but simple.
Here's Huckleberry Hound's Foreign Legion fortress:
An art director would keep the background artist's impulses in check. By all means incorporate realism, but keep the composition so simple we remain focused on the characters and the action. We don't need distractions, we need simple and declarative paintings against which our action takes place. We want consistency in color, in tone, in the look and feel...
Well, never too late to learn. Let's treat the police station painting as an exercise and see what it reveals. Onward, then!