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ISBN 978 1848566651

Published by
Titan Books
A division of
Titan Publishi ng Group Ltd
144 Southwark St

First edition f ebruary 20 I0

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 I

How to Train Your Dragon TM & 0 2010 Dream\Vorks Animation L.L.C.

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Manufactured in China.

(half title) Training Carving -Kirsten Kawamura- cf.gital paint. (tirkl spread) Hiccup in Cave of Dragons - Pierre.Qivier Vincent - composition - Nico Mallei- design- pencil & marl«w.
(above) Green Death- Cressida Cowell - pencil. (right) Sheep - Cressida Cowell - pencil.
frefttce by Cress ida Cowe ll ' forewor~ by Craig Ferguson '

IHtro~\ict(oH, 0He f(l~., Two Wort~f 11

Tke ~rR,oHf IS'

The Fire-Breathing Toothless: The Nigh t Fury 27 Hideou s Zipple bock 4S
Line-Up of Characters 17 Monstrous Nightmare 32 Te rrible Terror 48
The Red Death 19 Gronckle 36 The Dragons of Myth SO
De a d ly Nodder 40

Tke V(k(H'f S''

A Sturdy Cost Sno utlout 72 Old Wrinkl y & Go th i 86
of Characters 61 Fishleg s 76 Volhollorama 87
Hiccup 63 Tuffnut & Ruffnut 79 The Greater Viking
Astrid 69 Stoicl< the Vast 80 Population 89
Gabber 84

Drogonlslond 92 Dragon Cove 9 7

Tke V(k(H' Won(( ror

The Isle of Berk 103 The Village 11S Pro ps & Iconography 129
The Cove 108 Village House s 118 Vik ing Defense 133
La ndsca pes Beyond Meade Hall123 Viking Boots 134
t he Adventure 110 Blacksmith Shop 126 Viking Contraptions 136
Training Ground 127

St ory 141 Animation & Chara cter Effects 146 Ligh t ing 155
layout, Cinematog raphy & 3D 144 Effects 150 Editorial156
t I t)K(t
~ (re{{lc!« <owen

[ very year since I was four years old, my family

1.-would leave our home in London to spend the
summer on a remote, uninhabited island off the west
coast of Scotland.
The name of the island is a secret, but it was such
a small island that it hardly justified having a name
at all. It was so small that when you stood on the top
of it you could see ocean all around you. There were
no roads, houses, or electricity, just a storm-blown,
windy wilderness of sea-birds and heather.
For the first four years we visited the island, my
fami ly and I would be dropped off on the island like
castaways by a local boatman and picked up again some weeks later.
Even as a child, I felt that this was a little reckless on my parents' part,
since they had absolutely no way of contacting the outside world if anyone fell
ill or something went wrong. But nonetheless, I knew I was the luckiest child
in the world. Imagine having a whole island to yourself to explore....
By the time I was eight, my family had built a small stone house on the
island, so we no longer had to camp out in tents, which made life much drier.
And my father now had a boat, so we could catch fish, crab, lobsters, and the
like to feed the family for the whole summer.
The house was lit by candle-light, and there was no telephone or televi-
sion, so I spent the Whole summer drawing and writing stories. In the evenings
my father read us tales of the Vikings who had invaded this Archipelago
twelve hundred years before. We listened attentively to the stories of the. quar-
relsome Tribes, who fought and tricked each other, and of legendary dragons,
who were supposed to live in the caves.
It seemed perfectly believable that dragons might live in this wild, stormy
place. Once, we hauled up the tangle-nets to find giant prawn-like creatures
that had mysteriously grown to the size of small dogs. We asked a local fisher-
man what they were, and he shook his head. "I've been fishing here for forty
years," he said, "and I've never seen such a thing before .... "
This confirmed what I had always suspected, that there were things on
this earth that even the adults had not yet discovered, nor understood.
So that was how I first began to write the How to Train Your Dragon
stories, back when I was eight or nine years old. My starting point was, what
if dragons really had existed, long ago? Perhaps they once roamed the earth,
like dinosaurs, and something had caused them to retreat back into the ocean,
where they were hibernating, far from human sight.
The dragons I would write about would not be the rather generalized, big,
green things that I had read about in storybooks. What I wanted to create was
a multiplicity of different dragon species, of all shapes and sizes, adapted to
their environment and habitats in the same way as birds or other animals we
see today.
The hero of my books, Hiccup, is a Viking, living on an island called
Berk that is remarkably like the island where I grew up. In black-and-grey
pencil and ink drawings, I can only hint at the wild, glorious beauty of the
Archipelago where Hiccup lives.
And now Hiccup and the dragons are moving from the carefully con-
structed pages of my books to the big screen. I've had a chance to see the
development of the movie, and one of the great joys for me is that the genius
of the artists at DreamWorks can bring this sea-and-island landscape, and its
inhabitants, so stunningly to life.
You can see how beautifully they have done this in the pages that follow. cresslda Cowell's childhood Images from her Scottish summers.
(rA(' fer,~{OH

I used to be afraid of flying. Terrified. The slightest bump or rattle had rne
rigid with fright, my breath shal low and my heart pumping. I had to be se-
dated to sit on a 747. Given the amount of traveling that is involved in my line
with empathy. They are remarkably detailed of course, sumptuously animated
with great thought and precision. The artists I met during the making of this
movie at the studios in Glendale, California, take great pride in their work.
of work, this was a horrible inconvenience. I wasted long hours on airplanes They have a confidence that they are at work on something that is both beauti-
grinding my teeth and sweating. Eventually, at the suggestion of my wife, who ful and valuable, and that reflects an optimism that is neither didactic nor
had seen me suffer terribly on routine trips, I took flying lessons in the hope rigid. They're funny too; very few eight-year-olds watching the movie will be
that if I better understood the process, I would be less afraid of it. cognitive of the metaphor ofriding the black dragon (which used to terrorize
The first few flights in the small training Cessna were hell, but after about you). It's funny and immediate and entertaining, but if you look closely, the
fifteen hours or so of training, something strange happened. I was still ap- animation is breathtakingly skilled and far more complicated than one view-
prehensive, but I also started to enjoy myself. l began to realize that there was ing would allow your mind and eyes to absorb.
something on the other side of my fear, and it became a mission, almost an Pause then and enjoy the visual poetry in this book. And I wish you luck
obsession, to find out what that was. I flew and flew and flew, and eventually rendering your own black dragons toothless.
got my pilot's license and bought a small airplane. Now l fly for fun.
I cou ld never really express what had happened, why J fell in love with
what I had previously feared, but when I saw the first cut of How to Train Your
Dragon, I saw it explained to me. There is a scene in the movie where Astrid
and Hiccup fly on Toothless's back toward the island ofBerk. The animation
is intensely real, from the waves on the sea to wisps of wind blowing in the
characters' hair. The feeling I get watching that scene is why I fly- just for
that feeling.
And that is why I believe the Dream\.Vorks Animation movies are so
successful. It's because of how they make you feel- great stories pictured

{left) Gobber Final - Nico Ma~et- pencil & malker. (above} Craig Ferguson - voice ol Gabber. (right) Gobber - Cressida Cowell - penci.
I n traditional folklore, Vikings and Dragons have lived in two distinct and
diametrically opposed worlds. But what if it didn't have to be that way?
That's the question asked by Hiccup, the main character in the DreamWorks
Animation feature film How to Train Your Dragon, and it's the central
story that the writing and directing duo of Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
has ex plored in a movie whose visual magnificence is matched only by its
powerful combination of heart and humor.
Launched from the original book by Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your
Dragon has become a feature-length action film, full of fantastical creatures,
spectacular special effects, character-based humor, and heartfelt drama. While
many of the landmark locations and names have translated from the pages to
screen, "it was our goal to take the original concept of the story and
bring it to the level of some of our favorite fantasy
adventure films, with real world stakes,
exciting action sequences, and
more mature character in-
teractions and themes,"
explains DeBlois.
The film is almost
a prequel to the
book, since
Dragons and
Vikings do
not coexist
but merely
terrorize and
each other in this
story-that is, until
Hiccup and a legendary dragon encounter one another and introduce a more
peaceful existence for the Viking/Dragon relationship.
The Vikings live on the island of Berk where Hiccup is the son ofStoick

(16ft) Hiccup - Nico Marlet - pencil & marker.

the Vast, the tmposing chief of the tribe. Being slight and smart
compared to his generally brawny and bramless peers, Hiccup has not
matured into the true Viking he wants to be-and the powerful, brutish \
Viking that his father had in mind. The two associate in a mutually \
frustrating, non-communicative manner, and when Hiccup secretly
befriends a dragon he names Toothless, this alliance with the mortal ~
enemy of the Vikings further widens the gap between father and son. '\
As the story progresses, Hiccup's friendship with the injured dragon
enables him to better understand these fearsome creatures and the motivation
to change the way Vikings perceive them. This proximity also sparks a very
unViking-like compassion for the creature and inspires Hiccup to construct
a prosthetic tail system that reestablishes the dragon's ability to fly as Hiccup
steers the attached support system. It was this concept that truly energized
the story development: "The symbiotic relationsh ip between the dragon that
couldn't fly without the boy, and the boy who couldn't be himself without the
dragon; they both completed one another," recalls Sanders.
The look of How to Train Your Dragon is that of a stylized realism in
both character and environment design. "We've applied rea listic textures in a
shape language that is pushed to the point of caricature but is still believable,"
notes Production Designer Kathy Altieri. The exaggerated use of scale is
especially relevant to this story, considering that the modern-day perception
of the Viking people is that they were "larger than life": holding true to that,
Stoick stands seven feet two inches tall, while some of the cl ragon species
reach more than 5,000 pounds in weight. "For locations, we had to keep
in mind that the real element of fantasy in the story is the dragons, so we
established a believable, naturalistic environment to set them off," adds Art

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Director Pierre-Olivier Vincent. While developing lands that range from lush
greenery to rocky terrain, the production boldly amped up the sca le of various
details, constructing sixty-foot-tall doors on Meade Hall, the gathering place
in the village, and a mountain peak that would dwarfMt. Everest.
Another key element that adds to the sense of drama and beJievabil ity in
How to Train Your Dragon is the theatrical style of lighting. Cinematographer
Roger Deakins was brought in as a Visual Consultant, and his influence
makes this film stand out. "The atmosphere and mood of the frame are as
important if not more important than specific details within the frame,"
says Deakins, so this film does not hesitate to let its characters' faces fall in
shadow or background details fade out into total blackness in order to play to
the tension of a scene. The color palette complements Deakins' sensibility by
incorporating less saturation and higher contrast. This choice in art direction
further supports the tone and sophistication of the story.
The collection of art within this .book pays tribute to the flames of
creativity fanned by the fi lmmakers of How to Train Your Dragon, and
it also provides an in-depth look at the process involved with bringing
b?th the_Dragon world and the Viking world to life with present-day~
cmema!ic energy.
{. ....


{/ell) Forbidden Friendship- Chris Sanders - pencil.

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- ~--7·~·)·~-- · -- -=~~ A'the Vikings discover : ce the~
...........__._.-- , '- _.. ,.....
that if that thing was no longer, then
__. " / . .-· · · -:::< land upon Dragon Is\and, the they'd be free."
~--,... ,./ .-- entire society of dragons functions In its earliest development, this
to serve a larger and more hideous dragon was portrayed as a beast
creature than they ever could have of the sea, for which Character
. imagined- the Red Death. This Designer Nicolas Marlet drafted
massive dragon is, in fact, a common a wondrous creature replete with
enemy to both the Vikings and the a jelly fishlike bioluminescence; a
Dragons. It is quickly apparent that coral-shaped mane with stylized
all of the other dragon species are tendrils that float like sea plants;
engaged as "workers in service, and detailed, barnacle-inspired scale
forced to bring food to their leader designs. "But this was too elegant
in order to sustain their own of a dragon, which made it too hard
existence on the island," explains to want to see it killed," recalls
Director Dean DeBlois. "By using Production Designer Kathy Altieri.
the beehive concept of workers The Red Death dwarfs all of the
serving one master as the paradigm other dragons, measuring a length of
. .__ --..- for the dragon's world, we knew our 400 feet with a wingspan of 550 feet,
-. - dragons wouldn't need to portray sporting 94 teeth and almost 900
anthropomorphic behavior in order spikes. Plus, thanks to the wonders of
to make their society understandable. CG animation, "we are able to scale
Plus, this relationship is a way to the Red Death as needed to make it
build some sympathy toward the work in some scenes where it might
dragons, seeing that they are in just be too big," notes Visual Effects
service to something, and also to hint Supervisor Craig Ring.

(left) Red Death 016 - Ricardo Delgado- character deslgn - pencil.

(above) Red Death Head- Nico Martel- character design- Zhaoping Wei- digital palllt. (right) Red Death - ilfco Marlet- penc:i & mall<er.
, Red Death Final - s·'rron Otto- ~•
,below left) Red Death - Ricardo De ,...._ & marl<er.
{below) Red Death H d lga<lo- pencil
ea s - Ricardo Delgado - penci.
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(above) Red Dealh Monsler Rise - Jell Snow - story sketch- Pierre·Ofivier Vincenl- digilal paint
(right) Red Dealh Eyes Three and Teelh- Jeremy Engelman - stxfacing
THE RED DEATH emits fire in a jet of.flame that can project half a mile, and
it's accompanied by dirty smoke that creates a sense of something ancient
and dusty. The effects team "created fire strands that animated on a group of
curves to create a huge, smoky, fiery element that looks like it is lit.from the
core, fading to the outside o.fthe smoke," explains Head of Effects Matt Baer.
The effects team also built several varieties of.fluid simulations to use within
these shots, as if 2,600 feet of shooting flame isn't impressive enough.

(above) Red Death Baltte- Jeff Snow - story sketch - Pierre-Oiivier Vincent - digital paint.
(right) Red Death Texture - Dominique Louis - d1gital paillt.
(above) Toothless linal - Takao Noguchi - CG model - Dominique l ouis - digital paint.
(right) Toothless 1 - Simon Olio - pencil & marker.
(lxl/ow) Toothless Actions - Simon Olio-pencil.
The main dragon character in the sive blow which can set things on panther screensaver on one of our
I film is the Night Fury, a species fi re and explode them in a blue-and- story artist's monitors. That image
regarded by the Vikings as the most white flash of light," explains Visual was striking and electrifying, with
dangerous due to its reclusive nature Effects Supervisor Craig Ring. This those eyes staring out from the
and surprising, powerful fire skills. makes Hiccup's relationship with the darkest black face," explains Director
While Toothless may be form idable by dragon all the more forbidden. Chris Sanders. This desire to give
virtue of his species, he proves to be an Toothless is designed to be a the Night Fury a pure black skin
intelligent, emotional creature that just cleaner, sleeker, stealthier dragon presented unique challenges for the
happens to have agile artillery. than the others in the film. "We artistic team due to the difficulty in
"His firepower consists of had previously thought of him as portraying pure black color under a
plasma bolts of explosives that are wolflike, but then we discovered variety of lighting conditions. "We
fired with great accuracy- you hear another big cat worked even better," tested specularity and reflectivity
it coming and then see a blue bolt recalls Director Dean DeBlois. to show detail that wou tel read well
and shockwave ring. lt is a percus- "His color was inspired by a black in everything from crisp moonlight

(left and above) Toothless- SimM ()to- pencil & marker.

' .

to foggy or smoky scenes. We tried to make sure his intelligence and

applying a velvet] ike texture and emotional personality came through
iridescence, and we were finally without anthropomorphizing him,"
satisfied with a skin that is more says Executive Producer Kristine
like that of a shark or stingray than Belson. To faci litate his connection
reptilian," recalls Head of Surfacing to the audience, Toothless exhibits
Sabrina Riegel. behaviors that a dog, cat, or horse
The audience's acceptance might use when interacting with
of Toothless as a main character humans, with the hopes that the
requires a vast shift of perception: viewers will "be touched by their
He must go from being regarded as recognition of this bond," according
an unknown, dangerous threat to a to Head of Character Animation
magical, charming creature in order Simon Otto.
for the story to work. "We wanted

(above) Toothless - Tal<ao Noguchi - CG models. (fell} Toothless Heads - Gabe Hordos- pencil.
(above right) Hiccup & Toothless in Clouds - Tron Mai - d9tal paint.
(below right) Toothless in Clouds- Zhaoplng Wei - digital paint
(above right} Toothless- Takao Noguchi - CG models. (abovelelt) Toothless - Nico Marlel - pencil & marker.
(left and right) Toothless - Nico Marlet - pencil & marker.
(above left and cenkif) Toothless - Jean Franc:ois·Rey - pencil & matker. {le/1) Toothless - Shane Prigmore- <fogital paint.
{tig/11) Toothless - Nioo Mallet- pencil & marker. {below) Toothless Heads-Nioo Mallet- pencil & marker.
r erhaps the most "classic" take on a
dragon design feah1red in the film,
the Monstrous Nightmare is also
within its deadly jaws. Standing
sixty-nine feet tall and unveiling
a wingspan of sixty-two feet, this
considered the most violent, stubborn imposing dragon is intentionally
and tenacious. Tn battle, it's the first featured prominently in the open-
to arrive and the last to leave.
To create this fierce creature,
ing of the film to quickly orient the
audience into the fearsome existence
Character Designer Nicolas Marlet of dragons.
crafted an intimidating flame motif Each dragon has a unique mode
into .its shape patterns and was quite of firepower, and the Monstrous
generous in his assignment of teeth, Nightmare releases a kerosene gel-
as this dragon wields ninety-seven like substance in a shot that mimics a
ftameth rower. "Its fire hits the target
and then pours downward like liquid
instead of rising as one expects flame
to do, and it was quite a challenge to
make it look like fire and not lava,"
notes Head of Effects Matt Baer.
(above left) Monstrous Head - Nice Marie! - pencil & marker.
(felt) Monstrous - Nice Marlet - pencil & marker.

(right) Monstrous Final - N:oo Marlet- character design - Zhaoping W$i- cigijaJ ~nL
EARLY DESIGNS of the Monstrous Nightmare featured
a single set ofwings, but a second set was later added
to f urther distance if from the "classic" dragon look.
Modeling these wings required the consultation ofan
omithologist fo discuss bird anatomy, and the look of
these wings became a great.focus for the show. "The
designers wanted to add translucency to them to give a
whole other level of detail when backlit," recalls Head
of Swj'acing Sabrina Riegel.

(top to bottom) Looking Down Dragon - Nico Martel -pencil & marker; Curled Dragon - Nioo Marlel - pencil
& marker: Looking Back Dragon - Nico Marie! - pencil & marker, Fireworm Dragon - Dan Krall - marker.
(right) Dragon ol Spring - Pierre·Oii•1ier Vincent - dig:tal paint.

T he Gronckle resembles a stack
of boulders, wielding a tail that
can punch like a battering ram and a
mouth that can launch an explosive
ball of lava. But this stubborn dragon
likes its rest, which makes it the
dragon most likely to be described
as "sleeping like a rock."
The most atypical-looking
dragon in the line-up, the fourteen-
foot-long, craggy Gronckle "flies
like a cross between a bumblebee
and a helicopter, fueled by the roar
of a motorcycle," explains Head of
Character Animation Simon Otto.
The animation team studied the way
walruses and rhinoceroses move for
inspiration, and then imagi ned what
that creature would do if it had the
size and speed of a hummingbird's
(fell and1ight) Gronckle- Nico Marie! - pencil &: marker.
(below) Gronckle Wings- Nico Marfet- pencil & marker.
. .

• :· t . ' •.

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. .
J ' ~

Wf!JLE THE GRONCKLE BOASTS the most skillful

maneuverabilily o.lalt the dmgon species, its hefl
(an average o./5, 724 pounds) makes it one ofthe
slowest flyers. flaving extremely weak vision doesn 't
help it much either. ..
(above and tight} Gronckle Thumbnail Sketches - Morgan Kelly - pencil.
(tar right) Gronckle Final - Nlco Maaet- design- Zhaoping Wei - digital pa'nl.

-fhe most colorf11l and vibrant
I dragon species, this dragon also
projects some of the hottest firepower,
"a sparkler type of fire like Asian
fireworks, fueled by a magnesium
powder that flashes in a white-hot
blur with explosive sparks and blow-
torch like flames," explains Visual
Effects Supervisor Craig Ring. This
ski lled flier has an explosive temper
that makes it a daunting airborne op-
ponent but if you stand right in front
of its nose you' ll be in its blind spot
and it won't be able to see you.
Character Designer Nicolas
Marlet imagined that this dragon
was an ancestor of a bird. This idea
inspired the animation of the Deadly
Nadder, which "moves like a parrot,
with a bit of an emu's walk and the
posture of a tyrannosaurus rex tossed
into our blend of behaviors," says
Head of Character Animation Simon

(aboW!} Nadder - Nico Marlel - characler design- Kalhy Allieri - dig:tal paint
(above center and above right) Nadder- Nico Marlet- pencil & marker.
(far right) Nadder - Tony Siruno - pend & marker.
THE DEADLY NADDER has a spike motifin its design detail, cmd
this calls allention to a unique talent the dragon has: the ability
to flm up the eighty-two spikes that cover its bof~l' as a defense
mechanism. These spikes can also be"om the dragon in
a whiplike molion to impale his opponents.

(loll) Nadder - Nlco Mar/et - pencil & marker.

(oboWJ right) Nadder Final - Nioo Marlet- character design - Zhaoplng Wol - dlgllol paint.
(belowright) Nadder Details- Nico Martel - character design - Zhaoplng Wol - digital pnilll.
THIS DRAGON does not breathe fire, tech-
nically. Instead, one head emits a.flammable
gas while the other strikes a spark to ignite
it into aflame. Perhaps a more appropriate
name would have been the Zippo-back?
l•fhile the Hideous Zippleback has on the build of this dragon: imagine
W the best vision and ground-attack what they thought when they were
ability amongst the dragon species, it told this design "would have two
has the least favorable flight propor- heads and two long necks that should
tions, measuring ninety-one feet in be able to zip together. And they'll
length but only seventy-five feet in need to wind around each other as
wingspan. It also has the disadvan- well," recalls Head of Rigging Jeff
tage of two brains that think indepen- Light. This technically complicated
dently, lending some vulnerability to dragon contains 4,769 keyable ani-
this evasive, devious dragon. mation controls, as contrasted to the
The modeling and rigging teams average human character, which con-
had more than twice the fun working tains approximately 1,100 controls.

(above left and right) Two Headed- N'ICO Mallet - penci & malkef.
{below) 2headed Final - Nico Martel- charaeler desi~- Zhaopng Wei- di!jtal paint
(above and abo~~e right) Two Headed - Nico Marie!- pencil & marker. (below lig/rl) 2headed Keys - Nico Marlet- charac!et design - Zhaoping Wei - digital pain!.

Terrl~\e Terror
Lfcasuring a modest six feet in prances to keep its feet cool on the
1-1 length with a six-foot wingspan, hot sand;' notes Head of Character
the Terrible Terror is the smallest Animation Simon Otto.
species but the largest in terms of Tn an earlier phase of the film's
dragon population. Its firepower development, the Terrible Terror was
is comparable to a propane torch actually designed to play the role Ultimately, however, it seemed that
that launches a sticky rather than ofToothless as created by Cressida the dragon Hiccup would befriend
flowing flame, and its skin features Cowell in the original book. After had to be a force to be reckoned with,
fine spot details over an organic two and a half years of design, instead of simply having the smallest
pattern of scales. Often compared modeling. and rigging, "it was the Viking team up with the smallest
to a seagull in its somewhat nasty first dragon to be brought to life, and dragon. "Setting Toothless up as a
attitude, the Terrible Terror moves in it practically brought tears to our threatening presence gave us that
ways inspired by "Aying squirrels, eyes when Animator Gabe Hordos vital sense of tension for Hiccup's
salamanders, and one particular made it blink and lick its eye," story," explains Director Chris
behavior of a desert gecko that recalls Head of Rigging Jeff Light. Sanders.

(above and above light) Terror - Nico Marlel - pencil & marker. (below) Terror Evolurlon- Nico Marler- pencil & market.
(righi) Terror Final - Nico Mallei - chatacter design - Zhaoping Wei- diglal painL
...~; ..._ _____ .
:;.,.; ..............

Tke ~r«,oH{
of M\jtk
I t is not surprising that when designing a world
of dragons, an abundance of amazing con-
cepts sprang forth from the pencils and digital
paint systems of the creative team. Here's a look
at some of the many creatures that exist as little
more than figments of the imagination since
they do not appear in the final film.

~ -
(far left and above) Dragon Concepts- N'co Marlet- pencil & marker.
(loll) Dragon Eggs - Nico Marlet- peocil & marke(.
(above) Dragon Concepl - Andy Bia'k - dig'lal painl.
(above leff) Mulli·Eye Dragon - N'co Marlel- pencil & marker.
(below left) Viking on Dragon - Nco Marlet- pencil & marker.
(below) Dragon Concept- Darren Webb- digillll paint.
(aboVII) Dragon Concepts- Andy Bia'k- dig:tal paint.
(below) Dragon Exploration - J.J. Villard - digital paint.

(/811) Dragons Staring - Jean ffancois·Rey- acrylic. (above) Dragon Nursery- Em~ Mitev - digital pa'nt. (below) Dragon Heads - Nico Marlet- pencil & marker.
(left) Cave Creatures - Nico Marlel - pencil & marker. (above) Dragon Concept -Jean Francois·Rey - acrylic. (below) Dragon Lineup - Nico Marlet- pencil & marker.

' :, ··
~·· . . ·~.
' . ~ "~ •' :; ,. . '
T he Viking people possess their own energy and style, an intrigui ng mix of
barbarianism, brute force and bu llheaded loyalty to one another. It was im-
portant to the artistic crew of this film to channel that unique spirit into their
cast. Character Designer Nicolas Marlet developed a shape language that con-
veyed a sense of physical strength using solid bases of squares and rectangles
and then created a very diverse Iineup of characters from there.
Models for the human characters were built with great enough detail to
appear naked, all the way down to each of their toes. "We do that just in case
they end up losing their shirts or other accessories somewhere in the story,
plus it helps make clothing contact more realistic," explains Modeling Super-
visor Matt Pau lson. Speaking of wardrobe issues, the Viking costumes present
a number of rigging and animation challenges due to their richly fu rred and/or
chain-laden features. While the production did not want to make the cast look
underdressed to account for technical concerns, "fur vests were used sparingly
due to hair interactions and fur-topped boots were a problem because they
kept penetrating the characters' legs when animated. So we simply rational-
ized that shorter, matted fur made sense on these items for both story and
practical reasons," recalls Visual Effects Supervisor Craig Ring. While all
costumes were rigged to move with the skin underneath them, some required
special attention in order to portray a realistic motion, and the character ef-
fects department was quick to smooth out such issues.

(previous pages) Viking Charge - Pierre·O:ivier Vincent - digital paint.

(left and above) Sturdy Vikings - Nioo Martel - pencil & marker.
~eveloping Hiccup was a balancing Hiccup grew up a lot over the "lt was important to make Hiccup a
V act. He had to be appealing, but he course of this production, both in normal kid who would not stand out
also had to be enough of an individual social maturity and physical design. in our modern world-he's a smart,
to frustrate his father at the same In the earliest days of development, charming, and mild-mannered guy.
time," explains Director Chris Sand- his character was much younger, It's when he's placed in the Viking
ers. As a teenager Hiccup still wants pegged in the range of six or seven world occupied by outrageous
to be a true Viking but he has come to years of age and more aligned with characters that he doesn't quite fit in,
realize his intellect and physical stat- the character in the original book. and the audience can empathize ·with
ure are not typical Viking material. His final build and look is not as this awkwardness," explains Head of
As such, "he feels he hasn't gotten his stylized as the other young characters Character Animation Simon Otto.
father's approval and respect,'' notes in the film, which was a means to
Director Dean DeBlois. help the audience connect with hi m.

0\ir ~~~~tft ckA.HtH~t WA.f tA.ktH~ tke \jO\iH~ Hlcc\iy tkA.t (nHit!A. <owen kA.t!
tHv(f(oHtt! A.Ht! t\irHIH~ k(~ (Hto A. teeHA.~tr. Tk~tt ke Wo\i\t! ~A.IHtA.tH tkt A.ff&A.t
A.Ht! ckA.r~ (owttt k~tt! ~lveH k(~ W~tf l~yortA.Ht to tkt ftonj.
-6oHHie Arnot'*., tro'*\o1cer

(above) Hiccup- Nico Marlet - pencil & marker. (above /ell) Hiccup Determined - Cressida Cowell - pencil.
(aboVIIfrom left) Hlcwp 1 and Hiccup 2- flico Marlet - pencil & marker; Hiccup 3- Callos Gtangel- pencil & f'llal1(er; Hiccup 4- Sinon 011o - pencil; Hiccup Final - Takao Noguchi- CG rough model.
Tk(f c\~ff(c ~rcket\jf~\ rrot~"oHI{t te.t"-f
to "o eltker tke Rrro"~..Ht w~~, ''Yo\1
Rre ~\\ wroH" RH"- ~o\1 \\ {eeJ or tke
{e\f-"-errec~t(H" OHet r,, ~~ '~~eJ I wi'{k
I co\1\"- ~e H~e ~\\ of ~o\1."' We WeHt wltk
tke \~tter1 we W~Hte"- ~ ~ore e~r~tketlc
ck~r~cterJ ~ k\1~~\e frOt~"OHt{t tk~t
\e~rH{ tke v~\\ie of k(~felf ~H"- (f
~ccerte"- for Wko ke (f.
- AieH«I11(ro (Arlol11~ Hed of 5to"j

(far left and abo1-e} Hiccup - Nico Martel - pencil & marke.-. (left} Hiccup - David Soren - pencil. (sbovs} Hiccup- Nico Martel- pencil & mar1<er. {above right} Hiccup- Shane Prigmore - digital paint.
(above) Hiccup Poses - Simon 0 Ito -pencil
(center) Hiccup Express Ions - S•110n
. Otto - •penc 1
(/ell) Hiccup Expressions - s·1mon 01to - penc 1.
HICCUP OFFERS a clear example ofhow skin textures further support the
look ofa stylized reality, .featuring a thoughtful balance o.freal skin qualities
with subtle stylizations in blush and freckle usage. "it was such a liberating
state ofmind.for stt~facing to be told to make everyone look dirty and grilfy,"
says Head ofStt~facing Sabrina Riegel.

(above) Hiccup Expressions - Gabe Hocdos - peOOI. (right) CG Still.

on far more hairstyles than her male
T he ideal trainee, Astrid embodies
the ultimate combination of focus,
energy, competitiveness, and ski ll.
counterpart ever did. "When we
gave her two braids, one on each side
the single one she now sports seems
a distraction from her tme, athletic,
focused self
She also happens to have a highly of her head, it was fun in design but "Astrid represents motivation:
attuned sense of pride in her own not for animation, especially as she Hiccup wants to become a true
work, and is quick to attack anyone turned to look another way and hit Viking to impress this girl as well
not pulling their own weight. other characters," recalls Character as (more subconsciously) his father,
Like Hiccup, Astrid has done a Designer Nicolas Marlet. Indeed, and she herself is the most motivated
lot of growing up during the develop- she's had a varied number of braids V~king trainee of the group," notes
ment of this film, but she has tried on her head, but anything more than Head of Story Alessandro Carloni.
{left, above, and below) Astrid Concepts- Nico Martel -pencil & marker.
We \ove tkRt {ke ({ \t10r& of R \eRHJ Rtk\etlc ~eRck vo\\e\jPR\\ f\R\jer
R{ OffO{ed. to tke P~\k\jJ {kot-r~tti~H' t\jf" of V(k(.,., WO\t1RH.
-sr~oK Otto, HeA~ CTj (MrArter AKI~AtloK

(top left) Astrid Expression- Simon Otto - pencil. (lop righl} Astrid Story Sketch-Tron Mai - dig:tal paint (aboW) Astrid- Nico Marlet - pencil & marker.

(top Jeh and boi/Om) Astrid - Nico Ma~el - penal & marker. (top right) Astrid Final - Nico Marlet - character design - Zhaopng Wei - diglal pant.

/""r, SHoflo~t
~ \ \ A nother of the Viking trainees,
\ \ Snotlout is "all about having
good test for the rigging team in their
efforts to constrain a Viking helmet
. \\ \ambition without the skills to back it to its character's head and to control
\.1 ltp,"
says Head of Story Alessandro eyebrows from not interpenetrating
Carloni. Snotlout was one of the the helmet on certain expressions.
'first models built, and he served as a

(top left) Snollout - Nico Martel - pencil & markat. (above) Snolloul Expressions - Simon Olio- pencil. (right) Snollout Final - Nioo Martel - character design - Zhaoping Wei - digllal paint.
(above) Snotlout - Lorna Cook- marker. (below) Snotlout Expressions - N'co Marlet - pencil & marker.
AT ONE POINT in character devel-
opment, there was a consideration
o.fmaking Snotlout a female, and a
tough one at that. But it 's probably
not wise to mock this kid.for wearing
a dress now.

(above} Snollout Girl - Nioo Ma<lel- peiiCil & marker.

{below) Snotloul - Nioo Marlel- perd & malker.

. ..

• •

A s a counterbalance to
Snotlout, "Fishlegs
is the underappreciated
dragon enthusiast of the
group, constantly spouting
facts and stats on each of
the species," explains Director Dean
-" DeBlois. His square, solid build
suggests the ideal Viking body type,
but his obsession with dragon trivia
gets him into trouble when pitted
against them in the ring. At one point
in the development process, Fishlegs
was thinner, wore glasses, and acted
as a sidekick for Hiccup, more like
the character in the book. Ultimately
it was determ ined that Hiccup's
situation was more powerful if he
had to stand alone.
(far lefl) Flshlegs - Nico Marlet- pencil & marker. (above, left to right) Fish legs 1- David Soren - marker; Flshlegs 2- Dan Krall - marker;
Flshlegs 3, 4, 5- Nico Marlet - pencil & marker.(below) Flshlegs Expressions - Simon Olio- pencil & marker. (bottom) Flshlegs Expressions -
Nico Marlel - pencil & marker.(right} Fish legs Final - Nico Marlet - character Design- Zhaoping Wei - dlgital paint.

FISHLEGS IS AN EXCELLENT EXAi\lfPLE oftalented character modeling.

"This model shows a true understanding ofanatomy that is necessary when
you're building offofa design that's as graphic as Nico's," says Production
Designer Kathy Altieri. Without such structural knowledge, the flat shapes q(
the cll'awings could translate into an under-shaped mass qf skin, but here the
believable way the chin. sets into the jaw and the cheekbones lay on the .face
provides an authentic interpretation ofMarlet's strength of style.
(top right) TlJffnut Sketch - Nico Martel -pencil & marker.
(top left} Tuflnut Sketch - Simon Olto - pencil.
(above) Tuflnutand Ruflnut Flying- Nico Marlet- perd & marker.
uffnut and Ruffnut are "adrena-
T line junkies who are extremely
competitive and always policing each
other for signs of weakness," says
Director Dean DeBlois. Their long
and wiry designs perfectly comple-
ment their springloaded personali-
ties, always poised to jump into the
next fracas.
Although at first glance it may
be difficult to tell the twins apart,
Tuffnut is the boy and Ruffnut is the
girl. "That was actually part of the
fun in designing them, because it
made for both an efficient modeling
effort and a joke among the crew to
try to keep them straight," recalls
Producer Bonnie Arnold.

Stolck tke V«{t
f or all the confide nce that Stoick
the Vast projects when leading the
Vikings, he exhibits the total absence
establishing Stoick's very foundation
as a large, hulking square shape. His
cape further accentuates this statu re,
who is frustrated with his son and
the son being resigned to this fact.
The two are intellectual and physical
of such assurance when parenting his and even his beard helps portray his opposites, a tenet highlighted by their
son, Hiccup. While his heart is in the true personality because it limits his contrasting character designs. While
right place performing both roles, his movement, suggesting a steadfast, th is dynamic seems very dramatic,
emotional capacity is not nearly as unwavering fortitude. it actually provides humor in mo-
strong as his brawny muscles. r11 terms of character develop- ments when the commu11ication is
As the chief of his Viking tribe, ment, "we wanted the father-and-son unbelievably awkward between these
Stoick must stand tall and carry an relationship to be fi rst and foremost two. Stoick is a father who genuinely
air of strength and authority above in our story, so that's what we used cares about his son and actually fea rs
and beyond all other human charac- as the bui lding block of the fi lm," for his safety more than anything. He
ters in the fi lm. Character Designer recalls Director Dean DeBlois. In its is very hard on Hiccup in tl1e open-
Nicolas Marlet conveys this by essence, it is a story about a father ing of the film, which is the ideal

(above left) Stolck Pose - Nico Marlet- pencil & marl<ar. (above) Stolck on Dragon - Nico Marlet- pencA & marker. (1811) Stolck Pose- Carlos Grange!- penal & marker.
starting place for his character arc: would provide animation controls
if Stoick seems really irrational in and simulation parameters; and then
the beginning, then when he finally animation would run motion tests.
opens up and shows some vulner- Meanwhile, surfacing would add
ability in the end, it is a much more color, texture, and small-scale varia-
satisfying progression. tion and finally, lighting would pull
Stoick's design demonstrates it all together to render test images,"
one of the most ambitious undertak- explains Visual Effects Supervisor
ings on this cast of characters with Craig Ring. What made this effort
his abundance offacial hair, most even more involved was the fina l
notably his beard. Once an initial goal of3D stereoscopic film delivery,
design was established, beard groom- "which meant that even the inside
ing became a lengthy cross-depart- layers of the beard would be visible,
mental challenge, "where modeling so it had to move correctly all the
would produce span lines; rigging way through, not just on the surface."

(above leN) Hiccup & Stoick - Nlco Marie! - pencil & marker. (llboWI) Stolck Expressions- Nlco Marlet - pencil & ma!ller.
(left) Slolck Final - Nico Marie! - character design- Zhaoping Wei - d:gltat paint.
{above) Sloick the Vast- Cressida Cowell - pencil. (right) Sloick 2 - Pierre·Oiivier Vincent- digital paint
(below} Stolck Fire - Dominique louis-!igilal paint.

-----------~----------~-----~ ·-
.. ... ..,

/!early the most battle-worn of counselor by nature of his relation-

'-anthe characters in the lineup, ship with them- as tJ1e best friend
Gobber has the physical markings to of one and mentor to the other- and
show that he has gathered years of he serves that role even if he's not
firsthand experience with dragons equipped to do so," say Director Dean
and is the ideal candidate to serve as DeBlois. With a colorful personality
the trainer of the recruits. He is also and a humorously varied selection of
the blacksmith for the village, but prosthetic appendages, Gobber is the
more importantly, Gobber is the nec- most incomplete character physically,
essary intermediary between Hiccup but he is emotionally more complete.
and Stoick. "He's like a fami ly

(alx>ve) Gobber Final - Nlco Marlat - character design - Zhaoping Wei - digital paint. (top rlglll and center) Gobber- Nico Marie!- penc1l & marker.
6-o~~tr ({ tkt ~t{t frltH~ of Sto(cf.:, tkt OHl~ rer{OH lH tkt won~ wko f.:HOW{ tkAt Sto(cf.: Al~o{t cr(t~ OHCt.
- (krif 5~t~t*trf, ~(nctor

(lop lefl) Gabber- Dan Kral - mart<er. (lop righl) Gabber- Geelvtoo Boodoe- pastel. (Above) Gabber Expressions - Simon Otto- penci.
~rR,oK l{lRK~ I{ th.e *O{t twl{te~., off-kilter.,
R~{trRct_, \4\KWe\co*tK,., fOtKt\j RK~ VO\CRKtC eKVtfoK~eKt
(*"''""~\e. It"{ Ko WoK~er th.e V(k(K'{ lo{t "" th.efr
{Mf{ wh.eKever th.e\j WeKt to took for (t.
- 1\\j Alt(en~ tro~\irtlott ~e{l"tter

(left) Dragon Cliff - Pierre-QI,vfer Vincenl - digital paint.

(above) Dragon Cliff lava - Pierre·Oiivier Vincent- dig!tal paint.
(right) Dragon Island Final - Plerre·Oiivier Vincent- d!gilal paint.
tlased on the grandfather character duties over the course of her time
Vin the original book, the now in the film . Her role varied from
out-of-picture Old Wrinkly once shaman of the village when a mythic
served the Viking community as its element had to be explained to an
"wise old man." His character was empathetic confidant for Hiccup
a predecessor to Gothi, a soothsayer when he needed to talk to her
who fulfilled a number of different current role as village elder.

(below center) Gothi 1 - Darren Webb- pencil & marker. (leff) Got hi 2- David So ran- pencil &marker.
(below righl) Gothi 3- Nice Marlet-pencil & marker.

ALTHOUGH THEY UVE mainly in the shadows ofthe

more fantastical creatures ofthe film, there are a number of
well-designed and more realistic animals that inhabitant the
Viking world. Jt~s a shame that sheep as adomble as these
really only serve as fly-by appetizers/or the dragons.

(left) Sheep - Nice Marlet - pencil & marker.

existence diluted the principal rela-
I n the book as well as early versions
of the film, Hiccup had a mother
named Valhallarama. "But due to
tionship of the fi lm- that of father
and son- she had to go," explains
Gothi was a challenge because she
was the oldest character to swface, time constraints and the fact that her Producer Bonnie Arnold.
and her skin qualities were quite
different/rom the other Vikings. "We (abo'le left) Gothi- Sinon Otto - pena l.

gave her more dull and desaturated (above altd below) Valhallarama - Nco Mallet- penci & marlw.
skin, and even an old lady beard,"
recalls Head ofSwfacing Sabrina
Riegel. Gothi makes a briefcameo
appecmmce along with the young
Hiccup and young Astrid models
when the Vikings set sail in search
of Dragon lslcmd.
Tke V(k(H~ eHer~~ (f R lilt ~oof.JJ R{ tkelr io~IHRHCe
co~e{ fro~ llrnte force) Hot {trRte~~ ·
- flem-OI(v(er V(HceHt, Art ~lre<tor

W hile Character Designer Ni-

colas Mar!et crafted a varied
but complementary cast of Viking
American football players, "the
models had to be built with regular
neck proportions and correct spine
villagers, one particular trait is quite lengths so their rigs would work well,
uniform throughout the lineup- and then they were posed to look like
their apparent lack of necks. In order less neck is actually there," explains
to achieve this race of caricatured Production Designer Kathy Altieri.

(lelt and atxFte) General Vikings- Nico Mallet- perd & marker.
{bekYN) Vikings - Tony Sil.llo- pencil & market.
H ome base for the dragons is a
location undiscovered by the
Vikings. Around the island, "there
jagged, black, lava-formed structures
that blend into its dark skies to create
an eerily imposing and mysterious
is heavy fog which blocks out the environment. Its volcanic presence
view of the stars and other cues of has an infernal atmosphere "due to
navigation, the sky is choked with the common association between
dragons, and the coastal landscape dragons and demons," explains Art
is populated with creepy towers of Director Pierre-Oiivier Vincent.
rock that are disorienting. Thus, Earlier designs featured rock
the Viking ships would generally structures that suggested dragon
get lost, get devoured by dragons, shapes, but the production went away
or crash into these rocks," explains from these less realistic images in
Director Chris Sanders. favor of a more intimidating and
Dragon Island is composed of dramatic set for the dragons' lair.

IN EA RLIER DEVELOPMENT concepts, there was one shared island, with

dragons living on one side and Vikings on the other. "That's what inspired the
Fire ctnd Ice image," explains Art Director Pierre-Oliver Vincent, who took
the traditional associations ofan icy arctic Viking environment and a.fie1y
dragon den and blended them into one intriguing land mass.

(previous pages) Dragon Island Beach - Plerre·Oiivier Vincent - digital paint. (top /ell} Dragon Island Concepts - Pierre·Oiivier Vincent- digital paint. (above lelt) Dragon Island Concept- Geelwee Boedoe- digital paint.
T he interior of the island is es-
sentially a caldera- a cavernous
basin created in the collapsed center
fondly called the "Swiss Cheese set"
by the modeling department. "It's our
term of endearment for the space in
of a volcano. It is rife with stalactites which we were asked to build many
and stalagmites, for wh ich the mod- holes, a task which is as difficu lt
eling department sculpted a series of to model in CG as it is in physical
columns to convey the desired shape sculpting," notes Modeling Supervi-
language, and then placed and scaled sor Matt Paulson. This set was origi-
them throughout the cavern to create nally intended to serve as the dragon
a sense of chaotic, maze-1 ike depth. rookery, a protected colony where
The inner sanctum of the caves countless baby dragons awa ited their
houses the nest of the Red Death, moments to fly in an earlier version
and the entrance to this location was of the story.

(left) Nursery - Paul Shardlow - digital paint (above) Dragon Cave Sketch - Emil Mtev- peool.
T o come upon the Isle of Berk is
like discovering a mountainous
forest in the middle of the ocean.
scale is not pushed to quite that level
in the final version, the island still
makes an impressive statement. "It
The crescent-shaped tip of the
island is actually the only portion of
Berk that has been fully modeled.
Huge rocky peaks jut out from the features landscapes that are made of "Every time you see Berk outside
sea and reach into the rich blue of the stylized shapes to bring whimsy to of the village, it's done by matte
sky, with a lush, green oasis nestled the environment, but are treated with painting. They've created trees,
between the precipices. At its con- realistic lighting and surfacing to rocks, distant snow, grass, and other
ception, Art Director Pierre-Olivier give a sense of tangible space. We all amazing touches that do a great job
Vincent envisioned a mou ntain felt that Berk should be a place you giving scale and detail to the island,"
so high as to triple the height of would want to visit," says Production notes Visual Effects Supervisor
Hawaii's Mauna Kea, and although Designer Kathy Altieri. Craig Ring.

(priiVious pages) Vlllajje Sea Statues - Plerre-Oivier Vincent - digital paint. (left) Berl< Final - Plerre-Or!Vier Vincent - digital paint. (above) Berk Color - Zhaoping Wai - digital paint.
(above right) Berk Coast Beach- Pierre-OiiYier Vinceot- digital paint
lt.,f « l1«l«HCtH~ «Ct to Crt«t&
«H &Hv(roH~&Ht tk«t tf «f
11\e«k «H~ tot.1~k «f OHl~
VlkiH~f l1r«ve_, ~et
l1eHev«l1\e «H~ «ppe«HH~
&HOt.i~k to ~«ke (t « p\«ce
~0\.1 W«Ht to v(f(t.
- 6o1111lt Antoltt, fro~~ctr

The ocean is also an integral

part of the island of Berk. To bring
energy and life to this vast body
of water, the effects and lighting
departments "used depth, texture,
and cloud patch reflections to create
visual interest," says Visual Effects
Supervisor Craig Ring. In general,
the ocean has an all-encompassing
displacement effect that incorpo-
rates well-choreographed foam and
splash effects. "One of our effects
team members wrote a tool to figure
out where the ocean touches rocks,
then used a paint package to apply
foam into a 2D image, which he then
projected back into the set. Another
member of the team developed a
system that automatically snaps
curves around rocks that trigger a
variety of pre-simulated splashes,"
explains Head of Effects Matt Baer.

Tk(f wort~ k«f tke wd~kt of

rt«Ht1j. . oH\~ (t .,f ft.iper-f(t.e~.
- (kr(f S«H~tf1', ~(rutor
Tke (ove
T he cove is a prominent location
in the fi lm, as it is the hidden
sanctuary in which Hiccup and
ing Supervisor Matt Paulson, whose
department also had the task of
set-dressing the massive stone walls
the cove is locked offfor a majority
of the time. The stiII camera draws
more attention to re·flections on the
Of ~n tke {et{ IH tke jit~.~ we
cke~te(i. tke H~ktiH~ t ke ~o{t IH
Toothless establish their relationship. with foliage and tree roots in order to water, which are difficult to resolve tke cove. HoHe{tt~.~ (t.,{ re~U~j\1$t"
To give the cove a sense of being a provide a more pleasant backdrop. in a 30 stereoscopic film. "When ko\e IH tke ~ro\iH({.~ ve~ (i.tfjie\1\t
safe-haven for these characters, art Although a calm body of water we tried faster environment map to ~et \(~kt IHto-{o we ji\tere"-
direction called for "softer colors, the
application of moss along trees, and
seems like it would be easier to
produce than a stormy ocean, the
reflections- which is how the cliff
walls were initially projected onto
H~kt tkro\i~k tke tree{.~ ~o\iHce"- It
calm water on the lake," recalls Head lake in the cove presented its own the water-weird depth problems off tke w~n{., p'i{ke({ It ~""- p'i\\t"-
of Surfacing Sabrina Riegel. "Even set of technical challenges. Whereas would occur, making the lake hard to lt \iHt(\ o\ir {kot{ to\({ tke {tof'\j
the rocks are softer in style, modeled the cameras over the ocean shots look at in 30, so we ended up using we were \oo~("~ for.
with softer edges and more rounded were generally moving, and often ray tracing instead," explains Head
shapes like sandstone," adds Model- at a high speed, the camera work in of Effects Matt Baer. - f(Rtk\j Altieri, fro.t'1ctlo11 ~ef(,.,er

(,1bove) Lake Cove - Pierre·Oiivier Vincent- digital paint. (above right) Cove Overview- Nathan Fowkes- digital paint.
THERE TS ALSO a lovely wate,fall in
the cove, which was built for another
use in and then installed in
this location. It uses fullfluid simula-
tion fo make waterflow across rocks
and down, and it calls for particle-
rendering tools that allow it to break
in the mist. "Once you get a waterfall
going and stay a safe distance from
it, it adds a nice complexity in the
background," notes Visual E.!Jects
Supervisor Craig Ring.

(above right) Cove Roots - Nathan Fow'~es- digital paint. (above) The Cove - Jason Turner &Luis Labrador - CG model.
L«tttA{c«fe{ 6e\jotttA
tke ActveHt\ire
A great deal of visual development artwork was created for other locations
on the island ofBerk. While these scenic spots did not make it to the ftnal
fi lm, they are nonetheless spectacular.

Tke Tre~
adventure, all capturing the energy
I n an earlier version of the story,
the young Vikings had to trek to
fi nd a dragon rookery. Here arc a few
and scale of Art Director Pierrc-
Olivier Vincent's vision for a lush,
of the breathtaking locations they sweepingly whimsical, and natural
would have passed through on this wonderland.

(left, above and right) The Trek- Pierre·Oiivler Vincent- digital paint.
A t one time, the design team
envisioned Berk as a more
arctic isle, dressed in snow-capped
mountains, icy arches, and glaciers.
Although the white of the snow
provided interesting visual contrast
within the images, the production
felt that the island should be a more
warm and welcoming place.

(lop) Berk Color - Zhaoping Wei- digital paint. (above) Berk Snow - Zhaoping Wei - digital paint.
(right) Village Ice Arches - Pierre-Oiivier Vincent - digital paint.
A !though it is picturesque, the
village is also a challenging
place to occupy, given its slope and
proximity to dangerous surf. "It's
as if the Vikings thought 'flat fields
are stupid, and we are big and strong
and don't need that,"' explains Art
Director Pierre-Olivier Vincent. The
essence of Vincent's vision captured
in his original black-and-white
concept painting remains intact in
the fi nal renders some four years

(/ell) VIllage VIew - Pierre·Oiivier Vincent- digital paint.

THE VILLAGE was more storybook-like in an earlier version ofthe story
when the main characters of the film were younger. As appealing and fun cts
these quaint hamlets were, they could never stand up to the.firepower ofthe
film's deadly dragons.

(above) Docks Concept - Mike Yamada - digital paint. (below) Village Model- Cundo Rabaudi - mixed media.
(right) VIllage from Sea - Pali Shard!ow- d'gital paint.
struggles and victories," according to
T he houses in the village offer a fun
dose of color and caricature that
one might not expect from a society
Production Designer Kathy Altieri.
The look of the houses is brought
as gruff as this. "Our Vikings have back into a more realistic realm
unlimited passion and energy for the "by surfacing with heavily textured
battles between themselves and the details such as moss-covered wood,
dragons. They carved dragon heads a natural occurrence in the humid
on their houses and placed scream- Nordic summers," adds Art Director
ing Viking stone statues throughout Pierre-Otivier Vincent.
the village as monuments to their

Tke trR~OH ~otlf OH R ko"fe ref1ectf WkRt t\jft of

trR~OH tke tefeRtet tH tke fR{tJ RHt
tke{e Rrt e~~le~f of WkRt tke~ kRve coH""eret.
- t(em- OIMer Vi.,ce.,t, Art ~lnrtor

{lop) House Concept - Pierre·Olivier Vincent - dig~al paint. (above leff) VIllage Color key - Zhaop:ng Wei - d gital paint. (above
right) Viking Winter Houses- Pierre.Oivier Vincent- dig'lal paint. (left) VIking Chief House- Pierre·OUvier Vincem- dgr:al
pam. {belolv} Viking Grass House - Pierre<lli'liet Vincent- dgftal paint.
(right} Got hi House - Pierre-Ohier V&neent - dgaal paint.
(prtwious pages) Houses Main - Pierre·Oiivier Vincent- digital paint (top /ell) VIllage Gale - Mike Yamada- penci. (lop right) Meade Hall Concept- Em~ Mitev- pencil & matker.
(above left) House Concept - PietTe-Olivier Vinoent - (igi\al paint (above right) Old Wrnkly's House - Paul Shardlow- digital paint (right) House Concepts - Pierre·Oiivier Vincent - matker.
-fbe Meade Hall, where a number of
I important Viking societal events
take place, is the most impressive,
solid structure on the island. The
approach to the hall involves 125
very steep stairs, and the main doors
stand approximately sixty-eight feet
tall, flanked by two imposing Viking
sculptures. The sense of grandeur
and intimidation continues once the
doors open, wherein huge statues of
Viking ancestors line the halls, and Matt Paulson. Even larger-than-life
tapestries depicting historical battles Stoick looks quite diminutive in this
and achievements adorn the walls. environment. Bu ilt upon huge square DESPJTE commonly held stereo-
"When we built this set, it was meant stones, this structure enforces the types, /likings did not regularly wear
to be an impressive, big hall, but it's concept that Viking traditions are helmels with horns. But who today
not until we load a character into it founded on strong, long-standing, would recognize a /liking if he didn't
that you realize it's a REALLY big and intimidating standards that will have such armor on his head? Thus,
hall," explains Modeling Supervisor not sway. such icons are in the movie.

(left) Hall Front Doors- Kirsten Kawamura- digilal paint. (above) Statues- Kirsten Kawamura - cirg~al paint (below Jell) Meade Hall Viev1 - Pierre-OiMer Vincent - dgi!al paW.
(below right) Meade Hall Beat - Jeff Snow- story sketch- Pierre·Oiivier Vincent - digital paint.
Tapestries- Kirsten Kawamura- digital paint.
I..Jeat detail has gone into the
\Tblacksmith shop set as it show-
cases a number of important scenes
in the film. "We've painted the steps
to show they are well-worn, as if
grime is deeply ingrained from years
of muddy boots walking on them,"
notes Head of Surfacing Sabrina
Riegel. The stairs literally sag dtle to
thoughtful modeling efforts, and the
modelers also "paid careful atten-
tion to edges of tables and corners of
structures because that tells so much
about how old something is, or what
materia l it is made from ," adds Mod-
eling Supervisor Matt Paulson.

(top) Blacksmith Shop Interior - Mel Zwyer - d.gital paint.

(/efQ Blacksmith Shop Concept - Kirslen Kawamura- digtta! paint.
(abolleJ Anvil and Bellows - Travis Kolte<- d;gital pant.
~e training grounds are one of
I the more substantial structures
built by the Vikings, featuring large
statues of ancestors hewn from stone
to signify the strength of their tribe
and the long-standing traditions of
their culture. This location is the
arena in which the audience learns
what the Vikings think they know
about dragons. "The Viking knowl-
edge of dragons comes exclusively
from brief, violent encounters in
battle situations. They have practi-
cal information such as how much
fire they can breathe and what their
weaknesses are, as opposed to what
Hiccup learns in the extended time
he spends with Toothless," explains
Director Chris Sanders.

(top) Training Ground Concept- Mike Yamada - digital paint (above left) Training Ground Carvings- K~sten Kawamura- tigital pain1. (abolle right} Training Ground Concept- Plerre-Oiivier Vmoent- d1gilal paint.
Wkett o~r V(k(tt~~ ~~e ~ k~~~erJ lt.,f
Hot j~ft ~ ~lttk-~lttk-~lttk k~~~er.
1er Hke ~ k~~e ke~v~ {totte. 1.,~ ttever
(above) Hammer Carvings and Hammer - Kirsten Kawamura- dig!tal paint.
evett ~e ~~\e to Hft otte of tkofe tkltt~f.
(above right) Keg - Iuri lioi - design- Margaret Woller- color. -1\~tth.\j Altier(, fro~~ctfo11 ~er(.,Her
(right) Shark Rug - Pierre.Qiivier Vincent- peocil.
(be!ow left) Mangler Sketch- Mel Z1vyer- pencil.
(belorw right) Mini Manglers - Met Zwyer -<fogital paint
W eapons comprise a good percent-
age of the prop builds in the film,
since Vikings are all about battling
up with items which were a little
unusual but recognizable enough to
work in whatever capacity they were
and architecture that reflected
the intellectual simplicity of
dragons. This activity requires a intended. A perfect example of this the culture through broad,
whole armory of shields, maces, is the shark rug in Stoick's house, simple shapes that are sturdy,
axes, and other accoutrements. an idea that came to Art Director caricatured, and whimsical,"
"These Vikings are not fussy crafts- Pierre-Oiivier Vincent over four says Production Designer
men, but they are certainly enthusias- years earlier in the fi lm's develop- Kathy Altieri. Color choices
tic weapons-makers. Their weapons ment. "It's a twist on the traditional were also a bit more bold
are primitive and chunky, kind of bearskin rug that hunters would than what traditional Viking
like their brains," notes Production have, but it expresses the overzeal- iconography suggests, but
Designer Kathy Altieri. All props in ous aggression of the Vikings with a Art Director Pierre-Oiivier
the film appear "scuffed and stained, little bit of humor," explains Vincent. Vincent was inspired
and nothing is new and clean," says Indeed, "only a Viking would go out by the fact that "scientific
Head of Surfacing Sabrina Riegel. and pound a shark on the head just to studies reveal that there are
"Water buckets have been sitting make a rug out of it," adds Produc- pigments found on many of
around getting rusty, and axes are tion Designer Kathy Altieri. the great monuments of the
meant to be handed do\vn from gen- There are also many detailed world such as the Parthenon,
eration to generation, so the handles carvings and artifacts to be found proving that such structures
are darker where hand oils and sweat in the village. While research were much more colorful at one
have stained them over time." shows that Viking constructs were time than they are known to be in
With all of the props in the film, rudimentary and medieval, the film's modern culture."
a conscious effort was made to come design theory called for "imagery

WHILE THE DAUNTING Viking sculptures and !he dramatic tapestries

illustrate the serious legacy ofthe culture, there is room for a bil ofhumor
(above) Axe Variants - Mel Zwyer- digital paint- Shields - Kirsten Kawamura- cfgital paint. in Meade Hall: At one time, just inside the main doors a dragon statue stood
(righl) Dragon Statue- Mel Zwyer- digital paint. as a "stow your weapons" station, much like an oversized pincushion.
(far left) Meade Hall Doors Statue- Ktrsten Kawamura - dig.tal paint. (abo•Jefelt) Carvings - Kirsten Kawamura- digital paint
(center felt) Harbor Poles - Kirsten Kawamura- dig tal paint. (below felt) Defense Statues - Kirsten Kawamura - digital paint.
(lop felt) Thorsday Carving - Kirsten Kawamura - digital paint. (top center) Training Carving - Kirsten Kawamura - digital paint.
(top right) Menhir Statues - Kirsten Kawamura - d:gital paint. (above) Totems - Kirsten Kawamura- digital paint.
(left) Rock Dragon - Kirsten Kawamura- digital pa·nt. (right) Hall Columns - Kirsten Kawamura- digital pa'nt.

V(~("' ~ejeH{e
Tower~ ~ (oHtr«fttoH~
t .. l hile most shires of folklore dragons by day, standing as a
Wprotected themselves by con- perfect example of stone and
structing high stone walls along their scale representing the strength and
perimeter, that defense tactic simply intimidation techniques of the Viking
does not work when the enemy is people. By night they also stand as
airborne. "To illustrate the fact that beacons along the shore by having
this village is on constant dragon firelight glowing in their mouths.
alert, every shot of the set is meant Catapults, slingshots, and
to include a defense tower or defense various examples of Middle Age
contraption,'' notes Art Director machinery inspired the designs of
Pierre-Oiivier Vincent. the defense contraptions, and these
The "screaming Viking" defense mechanisms are used to launch rocks
towers serve two practical purposes. (and even the occasional Viking) at
Their imposing presence wards off their dragon targets.

(far left) Trebuchet Tower - Mel Zvtyer - digital paint. (far /ell} Striker Tower - Mel Zwyer - d:gital paint. (above left) Braziers in Sky - Dominique Louis- digital painI. (above right) Slingshot Tower - Mel Zwyer - digital paint.

T hese vessels are bigger, more
aggressive, and more outrageous
than actual Viking ships," notes Art
Director Pierre-Oiivier Vincent. To
diversify the fleet in an efficient way,
there are three basic boat designs
and a variety of interchangeable
dragon heads, tails and prows that
can be added or removed," explains
Modeling Supervisor Matt Paulson.
Vincent's earlier boat designs were
more accurate portrayals of Viking
ships, complete with sail stands on
Tke rlcket\j ~H~ rrec~r(o~~ W~\kW~~{ tk~t te~~ to tke
each of the boats. Due to the need to
accommodate character movement ~ock{ ~re ~ ~re~t IH~tc~tloH of tke fe~r\efSHeH (~H~
on the limited boat deck, however, t~ck of co~~oH ~eH~e) tke VlkiH~f k~~-tkere ~re Ho
these sail stands were removed and l1~HI{terf ~H~ tke r~~f~ ~re cte~r\~ too {teer to 11e
replaced with the more traditionally
f~feJ P~t If{ HotktH~ tke~ c~H.,t k~H~\e!
recognized hanging sail setups.
-f(lltk\j Alt(£rij fro"-wtlo11 ~£$(1}1!£r

(above left) Kids Boat Front- Kirsten Kawamura- digital paint. (above right) Kids Boat Back - Kirsten Kawamura- digital paint. (right) Sails - Margaret Woller- digital pain!.
(below) Dragon Prows - NicolasWeis- digital paint. (far right) Ballleshlp Front- Kirsten Kawamura - dig:tal paint.
I~~~~ 1

{lOp) Dummy Flghl - Mel Zwye~ - diglal pail!. {atx:Ne left) Chariot - Paul Shardlow- digital paint. (atx:Ne righl) Dragon Malntenence - Wolbert Pifl3ar - <fJQilal paint.
· <ll~~A
~~-- {~

T he story team carries perhaps the
most daunting task of a film crew:
Jfthe storyline they craft isn't solid,
a big problem for Hiccup to fix in act
three," notes Director Dean DeBlois.
One of the most involved efforts
tainment opportunities; they actively
move the storyli ne forward while
givi ng the audience an exciting adven-
then everything else that appears of the story team is to find the proper ture along the way.
on the screen is inconsequential. In combination of drama, humor, and The sense of scale that was
How 10 Train Your Dragon, the story action. The team put great thought predominant in design theory for
begins with the Dragons and Vikings into developing the emotional sto- How to Train Your Dragon was also
as enemies. As in the original book, ryline first and tben letting comedic an important tenet for the story. "We
Hiccup and Toothless develop a pow- moments fall into place as long as knew we wanted a sense of ' David
erful, secret relationship within this they did not undercut the drama of a and Goliath' in the movie, where the
hostile atmosphere. "This dynamic scene. "Our humor comes from the smallest, least considered character
gave the story an interesting act two, heart of the characters, their unique of the story has to face something
with a double life to follow: By day personalities and characteristics, more colossal. That is how we ended up
Hiccup was becoming a true Viking than anything," says Sanders. The with a physically, and metaphorically,
and by night he was consorting with way Hiccup jokes with his detractors huge dragon at the end of the movie,"
the enemy," explains Director Chris and the way Toothless makes dragon explains Head of Story Alessandro
Sanders. "Those two worlds are going flight even more exciting for his Carloni. Plus, it is simply rewarding
to eventually collide-it's the nature human riders are perfect examples of to watch how Hiccup and Tooth-
of the structure-so it gave us a this character-based humor. Similarly, less together are much stronger than
great opportunity to have something the numerous action-packed scenes either one would have been individu-
collapse in the second act, and then of this film are not just pure enter- ally in fighting the Red Death.

(prev'o<WS pages) CG Still. (tar fell) Sequence 600 "Hiccup Finds 11\e Dragon"- story skelch - Tom Oovens -dlgilal pam.(tell} Sequence 1100 "Siolck Shows
an lnleresl" - slory skelch- Ben Ballislrerl- digilal palnl. {above) Sequence 1050 "Forbidden Friendship" - slory skelch- Tron Mai- d;gilal palnl.
{right) Sequence 1900 "Meltdown" - slory skelch -John Pugtisi-d.gllal pain!. (following pages) Sequence 2475 "Bailie In lhe Clouds" -stO<y sl<elch-Civis Sandals - pencj.
. . II" '
I-. . .
.... .
<Ill ..,
1 ~ • ~

""·... (
T he layout department sets the stage
for the film by placing characters
and props in the modeled environ-
The layout department also
greatly affected the 3D stereoscopic
experience through its set dressing
Hiccup's perspective. For instance, in
the shot where Hiccup first catches a
glimpse of the dragon, we follow him
ments, and then turns the camera on. decisions. "While assembling sets, with a Steadicam as if the audience
It is their job to use the "camera" to we made sure to establish many is walking right alongside Hiccup.
support the storytelling. levels of foliage because 3D stereo- The camera travels to the ridge over
The cinematography in How to scopic filmmaking is at its best when Hiccup's shoulder and just captures a
Train Your Dragon is more realistic a set gives us plenty of objects in any glimpse of the dragon before cutting
than one might expect in the CG composition to convey that depth," away to wait for the audience to have
world, where almost any camera adds Zimmerman. a moment to experience the elation
move is possible. "Since our fi lm is In scenes where there is little with him," explains Zimmerman.
very realistica lly designed , our cin- dialogue, such as when Hiccup
ematic design ca lls for live action- first sees the downed dragon in the
inspired camera motion to help forest, camerawork also conveys the
support the strong and often serious emotional arc visually by accentuat-
emotions in our story," explains Head ing point ofview. " In this scene, we (above) Toothless Eyes - CG still.
of Layout Gil Zimmerman. try to experience the discovery from (righl) Hiccup Hill- CG sttl.
We oH\\_1 RCCeH'OiRte tke
3~ (teno(COf(CeXferteHCe
(., or~RH(c., (tonJ-'*rlveH
~o~eHtf to '*d(ver tke
e~otloH of R fceHe., (\ick
R( wkeH HlcC\if jtr(t n Rcke(
o\it to towk Tootk\eff. We
WRHt tke R\i'*teHce to fee\
tkRt Hervo\if exclte~eHt.
- !T(I u~~tnt!Rtl, HeR~ of LR\_10\'It

(above right) Hiccup Peek - CG still.

(below righl) Hiccup Back - CG stilL

LAYOUT ADDS to the audience we come up to the top ofthe ridge, into the anxiety in Hiccup's point
experience by utilizing 3D stereo- you'llnotice how /. he two cameras are of view at seeing this dragon.for
scopic technology to create an almost aligned, and the image is now the first time. The audience has
emotional and sometimes physical essentiallyfiat and physically easier the anticipation and can feel the
effect in the filmgoer. "To build for the audience tofocus on. Then physical e.xcitement o.fthe moment.
anxiety in the audience, we create as Hiccup drops down, the cameras It~~ similar to how an artist uses color
contrast in the 3D stereoscopic separate and the image becomes in a scene or over the course ofa
depth, which generates c1 physical very dimensional, which now makes movie, with mono-saturated looks
and perceptual reaction in the the viewer's eyes refocus, causing a when it's an emotional downturn and
audience," explains Head ofLayout slight postural sway and increase in super-saturation during a big, bright,
Gil Zimmerman. "For example, as heart rate, which hopefully translates musical moment. "
A nimators provide the physical
acting for the characters, and just
like the actors providing the voices,
laying down his neck to be killed,
would be a draw for compassion
from both Hiccup and the audience,"
when final and all the elements are
placed into the scene. ln support
of the action-packed animation in
animators think about character recalls Head of Character Animation this fi lm, the character effects team
motivation in each scene before em- Simon Otto. had to contend with numerous fl ying
barki ng on their portrayal. Toothless The animation team also spent sequences, in which humans and
was the most challenging character an extraordinary amount of time and dragons are moving at rates exceeding
to animate in How to 1J·ain Your focus to get the "Forbidden Friend- one hundred miles per hour. Way
Dragon, given his importance in the ship" sequence right, because they beyond the normal scope of making
film and lack of verbal communica- knew the scene when Hiccup and clothing and hair move naturally, the
tion. For example, animators had to Toothless first get to know one an- team had to believably portray the
think through scenarios like "how other was "the heart of the movie, and effects of having a strong wind in the
would a wild animal act in captiv- that if we failed that we would lose the characters' faces, where their clothes
ity? " while working on the sequence audience at the end of the story," says flutter, the hair blows around, and
where Hiccup first approaches the Otto. The team studied storyboards props, like Hiccup's cheat sheet, flap
injured Toothless. "At this point in and set up key poses for the entire se- in the wind. "It's really challengi ng
the story, we knew we needed to quence before assigning specific shots to make these things look good.
establish Toothless as a creature, to animators, and they also tested the The character effects team has to
not a personality, so we brought in Toothless rig to see if it could handle hit just the right blend of realistic
an animal behavior consultant to certain inventive movements, such as wind, keeping the characters' hair
gain some insight. She taught us sitting upright on its tail. in a pleasing shape. When they've
that it would try to get away imme- The character effects done their job well, it makes a huge
diately, but for dramatic purposes, department is responsible for making difference in the feeling of speed in
we thought that having Toothless be sure that the animated characters the flying shots," explains Visual
more nobly resigned to his fate, just look the way they were intended Effects Supervisor Craig Ring.
IH o\1r jil~.,$ eHvlroH~eHtJ {t\jtlt.e"-
{kRfe{ Rre ~ro\1~kt IHto reR\(t~
~~ teKt\-ire RH"- H~kt to creRte R
{eH{e of ~e\levR~IHt\j. Tkl{ (f Rl{o
tr\-ie (., RHI~RtloHJ wkere {t~\lt.e"­
ckRrRcter{ Rre ~lveH HRt\-irRH{tlc
~ove~eHt{J ~e{t\-ire{J RH"- e~otloH{
to creRte tkRt {R~e \eve\ of
rercelve"- reRH$~.
- Hw.oH Otto, H ut~ of (!<Ar~tcttr AH(w.~ttloH

(far left) Animation Key Poses. (left) CG still. (above) CG still. (riglll) CG still.
T he effects team is charged with
creating all elements with motion
outside of character animation in a
tree as needed. These elements are
placed thoughtfully to show fire that
envelopes its host prop. "Seei ng the
CG fi lm. Considering the scale of fire interact and cu rl around these
action portrayed in How to Train envi ronments was really important.
Your Dragon, this responsibility Our fi re has organ ic-shaped emmis-
required ambitious, focused effort. sion patterns so it can wrap around
Beyond the obvious fire-breathi ng objects to create a more authentic
dragon complexities, the team was look, which we use on all the braziers
also responsible for producing com- in the ·fi lm as well," explains Head of
plicated fire destruction, extensive Effects Matt Baer.
rock shattering, and interactive cloud Dragon-induced rock shattering
effects. was another key effect. To portray
Fire-breathing dragons inflict the damage incu rred by the Red
massive fiery destruction upon Death smashing through a volcanic
their targets, so the effects team rock wall, the effects team built
had to come up with efficient ways "cookie cutters" into the cliff wall
to ignite props and sets. The team to break it up into fragments. "First
essentially built modular fire blocks we paint seed particles all over rock
that, li ke snap-on toy building sets, models and feed thousands of them
(top) CG still. (above) CG still. (below) CG still. (below) Hiccup Hill - CG still. can be stuck on a roof, boat, or into rigid body simulators, which can

1 ~--~-~0------------------~----------------------------------------------------------------~--------~
3~ {tereo{coy(c jil~ teckttolo"~ ~ro~"kt R~MtlottRl ckRllttt"e{ to o~r effect{ won.. We leRrtte~ tkRt tke Rtt"le of tke jire to
tke cR~erR WR{ l""yortRttt to cottf(~er, Wkett It WR{ "oltt" RcroH tke CR~trR., It looke~ ex.tre~el~ f1Rt., Hke we kR~ tex.~re
~Rfft~ R eRr~. We ttow kttow tke rl"kt ~RlRttce of tke Rtt"le Rtt~ tex.~rRl ~etRil re"~(re~ to "(ve o~r jire tke yroyer ~eytk.
-, HtP.II. of E.:f:fut$

be layered. We then assign options Within a si ngle cloud, they can range
such as variably sized shale rock from wispy to more structural, like
debris, sand, or pyroclastic dust, and the archways seen in the ·fl ight that
where each of the cracks between the Hiccup and Toothless share with
pieces propagate, we blast out huge Astrid. The amount of I ight that
emissions of these elements," ex- scatters with in them must also be
plains Baer. This effect required the dialed up or down as needed, and
development of new technology for "we achieve the desired balance of
volumetric rendering- an appropri- density and light by using volume
ately "ground-breaking" accomplish- rendering with custom shaders that
ment for this film. allow us to blend from one frequency
While clouds are generally of detai I to another," says Head of
made by water vapor in the sky, Effects Matt Baer.
here they are made by the effects, Putting multiple effects together
lighting, and matte painting teams. in shots- such as during the big
In several sequences where Hiccup battle at the end of the fi lm, when
and Toothless fly through the clouds, the Red Death finally unleashes his
simple clusters of spheres- almost powerful fire and the sky fills with
li ke a bunch of grapes-are placed big, napalmlike, churning smoke
in space and then matte painters illuminated by fire and haze in full
"project beautiful, detailed paintings frame- proved to be an enormous
onto them to make them look like challenge to render, based on huge
clouds. Since the paintings exist file sizes. "We solved this by having
in 30 space, as the camera moves two effects developers, one in the
around, they move and parallax Glendale Studio and one in the
just like real clouds do," explains Northern California POI facility,
Visual Effects Supervisor Craig work together to write a new render
Ring. The effects and lighting teams program, which we ended up using
also fi ll these clouds with a glowing in more than one-third of our effects
translucency to give a magical look shots," recalls Head of Effects Matt
to the atmosphere. Baer. Also, previous rendering
For sequences in which char- tools would call for the layering
acters actually come in contact with of atmospheric elements, but in a
clouds, the effects team created stereographic film, such a setup
cumulon imbus clouds with which would look like cards on the screen,
they can interact. These elements so this new system proved important
are more challenging to manage on several levels.
because they requ ire varying detail :

(atxlvtl tighl) CG slill. (center right) CG siUI. {tight) CG siUI.

(~} Red Death Fire - Craig Ring- dgital paint. (below} The Red Death Fire - CG Sb11.

(bortom) Rolling Brazier - CG still. (rigllt) Monstrous Nightmare - CG still.


T he lighting department must

deliver the directors' vision
for the final look of the film by
a vast knowledge of soft, cinematic
lighting, plus a strong use of contrast,
"which complements the tone of
effect to it," says Deakins, whose
goal was to take light and wrap
it across a form (without using a
what is happening within that scene.
This cognitive effort on the part of
the viewer makes him more invested
setting up proper light and shading the story and gives the film a visual traditional rim light in the back) in the overall cinematic experience
combinations on each and every handsomeness," describes Production whi le still helping to deliver clear, by having to actively think and feel
element, in each and every shot. For Designer Kathy Altieri . readable character expressions. his way through the story, subcon-
How to Train Your Dragon, Directors To give a sense ofjust how Deakins' style of lighting in- sciously giving him a deep level of
Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois dramatic the lighting can be, in volves not showing every single detail involvement with the characters. "It's
wanted to cast a Nordic light on their some scenes, the only light source is of what is in a shot and letting the the film equivalent of an impression-
sets while playing to the drama of little more than two small candles. audience create its own story about ist painting," says Altieri.
the story in a sophisticated style. This is a brave choice in the CG
Enter live-action Cinematographer world, where it's tough not to show
Roger Deakins, whose work in off every little detail that time was
particular on The Assassination of taken to design, build, and texture.
Jesse James by the Coward Rober/. "There's a balance between using
Ford and The Village inspired the naturalism and giving some creative
production. His consultation brought style to it, or adding some dramatic

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T he editorial crew has the unique

advantage of seeing the film at all
stages of production because nearly
would be feeling, and why he would
be feeling such a way in each shot.
Those character-based considerations
and Toothless battle the Red Death,
the production took the approach that
they were shooting this sequence in
to capture it cinematically. "Then
it came clown to editorial to let us
find an organic cut, which gave the
every department in the pipeline inform the decisions of whether to live-action by creating a long "master directors opportunity to find the
delivers its shots to the edit bay as it go with two-shots, profiles, or close- shot" which editorial then cut like movie instead of trying to call it
completes its work. ups in each moment. "It was all a live-action team would. "We got out shot-by-shot much earlier in the
Perspective is perhaps the about discovering the idea of what the sense of what the storyboards process, as is the norm," continues
most important through-line for the it's like to go from a very tentative were looking for, then we built basic Holmes. After the directors approved
editorial team to consider. When relationship to one that is truly joyful animation and layered temporary of the cut in editorial, the sequence
editorial cut together the sequence and fun," recalls Editor Darren effects, lighting, and clouds into went back into the production
where Hiccup and Toothless are get- Holmes. one big Maya file," explains Head pipeline at the layout department
ting acquainted in the cove, the team The editorial team also had the of Layout Gil Zimmerman. Next the and then moved forward through the
was very mindful of each character's unique opportunity to work in more "previs" put a variety of interesting subsequent departments like all other
point of view, what emotion each of a live-action style. When Hiccup camera moves into the shot to try shots in the film.

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