The SCS presents the 11th 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 the Town Square set. Here's Chris to give you the needed info on this artwork:
Hello SCS fans!
As the final WOS playset is hitting the shelves, I thought you would like to see the pre-production art of the Town Square to coincide with it's release.
Once I got the call from PM to design a playset based on the Town Square, and featuring Jebediah Springfield as the centerpiece AND figure, I started gathering reference.
This one started with a lot of scanning through various episodes for reference of the Town Square. The first thing I noticed was there didn't seem to be much going on around the statue. Every image I found showed the statue of Jebediah with nothing but grass and walking paths around him. The Springfield Town Square is a pretty open space and that presents a problem when trying to re-create that feel in a small playset. I though that ditching the standard "short wall", and only using the one "long wall" would help 'open up' the space. PM agreed, but we had a lot of back and forth about how to handle the "long wall".
My first thumbnail sketch was the only one I did before jumping into the concept drawing. (see the Rough Controls) I actually had two backgrounds to choose from for the Town Square - The Springfield Town Hall and the Courthouse. We tried both, but felt that the Courthouse was more appropriate.
At first we figured it would simply be a big "label art wall". Then we started toying (no pun intended) with the idea of creating some relief molding from the back wall. I noted to PM that it often becomes tricky to create a relief molded wall with forced perspective and make it work. Many times these "forced perspective" backgrounds only look good when you view them straight on - not to mention that all of the color would have to be paint operations. Very expensive. I suggested a "layered label" background that would still have the colorful artwork, but also have a feeling of depth that a flat label does not (see the mockup). Even though PM decided not to go this route I still talked them into letting me do some relief molding with the tree and bushes.
The Jebediah Springfield statue presented some problems since previously Fox mandated that nobody but "Fox approved artists" could create turnarounds of any Simpsons characters for the figure line. But in this case, the statue was actually part of the set - not a figure. PM decided that to keep things moving it would be o.k. for me to create the turnarounds for the statue. To make sure that Fox would approve my turnarounds I really spent a lot of time working out the statue. I actually set up the basic pose in a program called "Poser" (see the Jebediah 'Poser' art) and based it on the many images I found from the various episodes. I used the Poser images as a template to create the statue control views (see the more complete Jebediah 'Poser' art). I'm not sure if PM was already thinking of it, but I made the suggestion to have the statue's head removable and to include a backpack for Bart to carry the head in. (How cool would it have been to have a "Ninja Bart" sawing off the head of Jebediah Springfield!)
The finished controls for this set were done mostly by hand since it was so 'organic'. I did very basic views in Illustrator first, printed them out, and worked on top of them to make sure I was following the correct dimensions. The pieces (base, tree, bushes) were all done as separate elements and then put back together once everything was scanned. The bench and statue base was created in Illustrator.
Long after I had finished these controls, PM contacted me about modifying the views because the Octuplet Stroller would not fit on the base. I had no idea at the time that we would need that kind of room on this base, but I suggested we move the 'grass-line' back to make the walk-way wider. PM agreed and had already been thinking that would be the way to go. The last image (Stroller Mod) is one of the correspondence images between PM, Hong Kong, and me to convey the change to the set.
I still haven't picked up my Town Square playset so I don't know exactly how the finished piece looks. I hope it all worked out o.k.
When I designed this set, I had no idea it would be the final playset released for the line. It's kind of interesting that a 'town square', which is often a general meeting place or social gathering spot, would be the final playset for the WOS.
Hope you enjoy this look into the development stages for the Town Square, and hopefully soon I can post some more of the playset art you haven't seen yet.
Thanks to Chris and Playmates again!
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