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The Art of

The Brief
A new CG animated adaptation of Italo Calvinos Invisible Cities is in pre-production. In
response to the source material allocated to you at the briefing, you have been commissioned
to produce 3 fully-resolved concept paintings of one of Calvinos fantastical cities.

The role of a concept artist is to produce the illustrations that help production designers envision the world/
characters of films, television and games. The illustrations must be striking (they are often quite theatrical), yet
accurate and clear. Concept artists work on films where special effects are required to create invented elements,
as their role is to think up what these elements would look like. Concept artists are brought in by production
designers in the early stages of pre-production and together they visualise the environment and/or characters of
the film, tv show or game. Concept artists usually work on a freelance basis, and big studios normally employ a
number of concept artists to each work on a specific element. If the project is an adaptation then it is the
concept artists job to analyse the original source material and gather all of the descriptive information. Once the
artwork is approved by the production designer it is presented to the producer, director and visual effects
coordinator for further development. The concept artist may also be required to adapt their work throughout
the shoot as filming progresses.
Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino; an Italian journalist, short-story writer and novelist
was one of the most important Italian fiction writers of the 20th
century. He is responsible for writing the original source material
that this project is based on: Invisible Cities.

Invisible Cities
Invisible Cities or Le Citt Invisibili in Italian; written by Calvino in
1972, explores an invented world through the descriptions of cities
by the explorer Marco Polo. The book is centred around a
conversation between emperor Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, in
which Polo is describing all these cities to him, but in fact they are
all based on the same city- Venice. The descriptions of the cities
are descriptive poems written in prose.
AFTER A SEVEN days march through the woodland, the traveller directed toward Baucis cannot
see the city and yet he had arrived. The slender stilts that rise from the ground at a great distance
from one another and are lost above the clouds support the city. You climb them with ladders. On
the ground the inhabitants rarely show themselves: having already everything they need up there,
they prefer not to come down. Nothing of the city touches the earth except those long flamingo
legs on which it rests and, when the days are sunny, a pierced, angular shadow that falls on the
There are three hypotheses about the inhabitants of Baucis: that they hate the earth; that they
respect it so much they avoid all contact; that they love it as it was before they existed and with
spyglasses and telescopes aimed downwards they never tire of examining it, leaf by leaf, stone by
stone, ant by ant, contemplating with fascination their own absence.
Originally my influences included images such as these as I
was thinking about what a city what look like amongst the

then as I started to develop the city more I thought

about the buildings,

the food,

the stilts, the power sources and how Baucis revolves around the idea of looking down at the
Designing the buildings
I started off by drawing quite stereotypical but then after collecting more reference
city buildings such as skyscrapers images I created page of different building

and these were my final

chosen designs for the
buildings of Baucis
The details of Baucis
To begin with I didnt really think about the stilts
I also thought about how food is grown in Baucis. Due to the
that hold Baucis up but once I did I realised that
lack of earth under the city, as Baucis is found amongst the
they would need to be very strong and be able to
clouds, I researched how food can grow without earth and I
hold the vast weight of the entire city
found out about hydroponics which is defined as the process
of growing plants in sand, gravel or liquid, with added
nutrients without soil.

I also thought about how the

Baucis inhabitants power their city
up in the sky, and I decided that
the most logic way was by using
wind turbines as there would be a
lot of wind through the city as it is
so high up in the sky.
Baucis Observatories
I started by drawing my ideas of Baucis
observatories as quite empty rooms
with multiple telescopes in them that
point down out of the windows
then these are my final observatory
drawings of the exterior and interior.
then after researching
into observatories more I
decided that Baucis should
have actual observatories
in its city as a major part of
their culture is the looking
down at the earth below
them. So after collecting
some reference images I
designed some observatory
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Close Ups
Low Angle
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Close Ups
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Close Ups