I eventually abandoned the castle idea as I felt it was too grandiose for one eccentric experimental witch - I thought a ramshackle hut with some kind of elaborate underground laboratory seemed more fitting.
Studies from various castles/buildings
The furthest I went with designing her environment was this below piece. After being inspired by the work of classic Disney concept artists like Mary Blair, I experimented with simple, stylised clear shapes for the foliage and tried not to get caught up in detail. I lack a lot of knowledge about designing buildings and houses, and this one certainly needs a lot more to it as it does nothing to indicate Watho's personality.
The first little piece I did for designing Photogen and Nycteris was the below sketch. The idea of using colour as a strong signifier for their contrasting personalities was really important to me. The fact that Photogen embodies all that is sunny and warm, whereas Nycteris represents all that is nocturnal, offers many potential ways of exploiting imagery associated with dawn and dusk to add extra layers of narrative depth to the design of the film.
If I was to actually create this animation I think colour would definitely be one of the most powerful tools for telling a symbolic narrative.
I did draw some ideas for what they might look like, but I'm not too sure of the style I have used here, particularly for Nycteris. I feel her withdrawn but curious personality hasn't been captured in these drawings. But I like some of these directions for Photogen, of him being rather 'stocky', and seeing as how he lives to do nothing but hunt, he'd probably be a bit naive (but would try to cover it up at first by being 'macho')