The SCS presents the eighth in a continuing series of looks at the pre-production art of the World of Springfield line thanks to Chris Lauria, who does most of the playset art for Playmates Toys. This time around we have images from the making of Series 12's Bart's Treehouse set. Here's Chris to give you the needed info on this artwork:
Hello Simpsons Collectors!
I have been extremely busy lately, but wanted to give everyone a look at the production art for Bart's Treehouse since it was recently released.
I was amazed at the amount of 'good buzz' around this set. When I was working on it, I thought it might be a popular set, but I had no idea how most collectors would react.
Let me start by recounting the origin of the is set again - While working on some Simpsons projects, I made a short list of some set ideas that I thought would make interesting playsets. It occurred to me that while most of the 'key' areas had been made - Bart's Treehouse seemed to have been forgotten. During one of my phone conversations with the product manager, I mentioned it to him. He seemed shocked, like "How did we overlook that one?!?". A few days later, I was told that the gang at Playmates liked the idea and it fit into the timing of the upcoming waves. It was a "go".
The little thumbnail sketch is usually all I do before starting the concept sketch. I try to get as close as possible from the start. Sometimes I hit it, sometimes I don't. With this set, I had a pretty good idea of how I was going to approach it from a layout standpoint.
Initially, I wanted to base the concept around the "Three Men and a Comic Book" episode, but after the first sketch, Playmates decided to base it on "General Bart". I think a lot of this had to do with the plans to make Herman's Military Antique Store around the same time. They also asked me to put a roof on. I was worried that the 'adult figures' would hit their heads, so we decided to make the roof pivot. This also helped make it easier for collectors to set-up their figures in the set.
Check out some of the screen reference I grabbed from the show. In this case, since this episode is on DVD, I popped it my DVD ROM drive and actually took pictures of my screen (I can't get my Mac to take a "snapshot" of the DVD Player window - what a pain!).
Fortunately, Fox actually sent some great reference for the Treehouse as well. This helped a lot. What's amazing are the subtle differences when you look at the various episode as well as the reference - the Treehouse is drawn differently! I pretty much worked from the Fox ref for the layout, and the episode for the details.
Since this set was a little different form the previous sets, I had to show how things were going to layout a little more - that's why I have a 3/4 sketch with measurements indicated.
Once I created the color presentation art, it really started to come to life.
Finally, the control art stage arrived. This one was a little more time consuming since I had to do just about everything by hand. By this point I was doing about 95% of the controls in Illustrator, but the 'organic' nature of the "Treehouse" demanded that I draw all of the main art by hand. Only some small pieces were done in Illustrator (Lamp, posters). All of the hand drawn art was then scanned and converted so I could assemble it in Illustrator.
After that was completed, I was asked to make the "Happy Birthday" label art for the water balloons. "Well, I'd prefer they say "Death from Above", but I guess we're stuck."
The Fox guys created the other labels for the set, as well as the figure designs (if you ask me, Bart looks 'high').
I was pretty happy with the set for a couple of reasons - it was a bit different in design from most of the prior sets, and I felt as though I had more input from the start. I really liked the Arcade when it came out since it was really a set just for the 'kid' figures - this set was similar in that feel. "No Grown-ups Allowed!" From what I read on the boards, it seems that many of you like the Treehouse as well - thanks!
Well, it's back-to-work for me. Enjoy!
Thanks to Chris and Playmates again!
First sketch/doodle of the set.
Rough concept art for the sets w/ measurements.
Final concept art with labels.
Multiple views and details for the set.
Final color prototype sketch.
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