CS: I was wondering about the look of the movie because Ron Barrett's art from the book has a very specific look, but you guys went for something different, which I'd almost say is influenced by the Muppets. Is that possible?
Lord: For sure it's influenced by the Muppets. That was a very deliberate thing, because the Muppets are really simple characters, they're really well-designed, they work great in 3D and they're really expressive and those are all the things you want in a cartoon. I remember watching "A Bug's Life" and having it click in my head, "Oh, it's puppets. 3D cartoons, it's about puppets."
Miller: The thing about human characters is in CG, if you make them look too realistic, they get kind of creepy looking, so early on, we definitely knew that we wanted the character designs to have a more cartoony aesthetic so one of the many sources, including the book and classic '50s and '60s animation, was the Muppets, and that went across for all the characters, especially Flint and Tim with his monobrow.
The directors wanted simple, well-designed characters like those found in classic animation and in the Muppets. I think in this particular example the appeal of the characters comes from their extremely exaggerated movements and traits - leaving their designs relatively simple allows more room for the over-the-top, classic style of animation the directors were wanting.
Art by Pete Oswald