The introduction scene is the most lavishly illustrated as it's the only bit that doesn't have frame-by-frame animation. I wanted to present the introduction in a motion comic-style that would set it apart from the rest of the film and help establish the style and atmosphere of the piece.
I would have really liked to have done something more involved and creative, such as having them appear as living illustrations inside a fairytale book. I may see if I can adapt them in the future to be like that.
I haven't ever really painted backgrounds/environments to the extent I have in this film so it's been a bit of a learning curve figuring out what brush styles work best. To create the soft, ethereal atmosphere inspired by the artists I've previously mentioned like Tyrus Wong, I worked mainly with the default Photoshop brush set to very low flow and opacity, slowly building it up in layers before adding definition with a higher opacity setting. I tried to only use a high opacity/flow brush sparingly to define stylistic touches like the twirls on the trees, and also to draw the eye to the focus of the scene. I then played a lot with adjustment layers to create an atmospheric sense of lighting.
As I'm not brilliant with colour yet (I tend to colour everything far too flatly and desaturated) I played a lot with the colour balance and brightness/contrast settings to really bring out the light and shadows. I then filled a layer with a pinkish, orange colour set to Overlay to pull it all together a bit more.
In this image I only really defined the chest as that is the focus of the scene. The rest gives the impression of the rest of the environment without going into too much detail as it wasn't really necessary and could be distracting for the viewer.
I do need to work on my drawing/colouring of interior environments in particular, this is far too flat and sparse (in fact I'm only realising now how this one lacks any sense of dynamic/interesting composition). This isn't satisfactory for me as the Witch's lab is meant to be full of strange little objects, experiments and gizmos to really give a sense of her reclusive, eccentric character.
(um, excuse the temporary text)
I tried to gradually transition the colour from a soft, more tonal palette to something more vivid and unnatural once she starts doing the spell, to emphasise how unnatural it is. I think I could have done this more subtly.