Concept Art Revealed for Feature Film ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’ (Exclusive)

"Kensuke's Kingdom" concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

“Kensuke’s Kingdom” concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

Filmmakers Kirk Hendry and Neil Boyle have revealed pre-production concept paintings for their upcoming animated feature Kensuke’s Kingdom. The images were provided exclusively to Cartoon Brew.

Based on the bestselling novel by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo and adapted for the screen by screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce (Millions, Hilary and Jackie, 24 Hour Party People), Kensuke’s Kingdom is about a ten-year-old boy who washes up on a tropical island, where he discovers he is an intruder in the domain of a mysterious Japanese soldier named Kensuke.

The action/adventure film is being developed by producers Sarah Radclyffe and Barnaby Spurrier.

"Kensuke's Kingdom" concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

“Kensuke’s Kingdom” concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

Hendry and Boyle will use a combination of 2D and 3D animation techniques. The duo have recently participated, as art director and lead animator respectively, in major collaborations with Triplets of Belleville director Sylvain Chomet: a music video for Belgian pop star Stromae and a 2014 Simpsons opening.

"Kensuke's Kingdom" concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

“Kensuke’s Kingdom” concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

The production paintings were developed in collaboration with the visual development team at Framestore, who have previously worked on Paddington, Gravity, and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Morpugo’s War Horse. The team was headed by Kevin Jenkins, who is currently an art director on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

"Kensuke's Kingdom" concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

“Kensuke’s Kingdom” concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

“Neil and I did some simple sketches of the scenes we wanted to portray, with some basic blocking, suggestions for time of day, etc, for lighting ideas, and let Framestore’s visual development team run with it,” Hendry told Cartoon Brew via email.

“Framestore have some of the best people in the world for visual development,” said Boyle. “Although we are currently developing the final look of Kensuke’s Kingdom using a box of tricks including hand-drawn characters, miniature landscapes, matte painting, and CG environment effects to tie it all together, the concept paintings give us, the whole production team, and potential financiers a really good taste of the sense of scale, adventure, fun and drama we want to achieve bringing this much-loved book to the big screen.”

Hendry and Boyle are currently creating a fully animated test sequence, with production on the film expected to begin in early 2016.

"Kensuke's Kingdom" concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

“Kensuke’s Kingdom” concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

"Kensuke's Kingdom" concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

“Kensuke’s Kingdom” concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

"Kensuke's Kingdom" concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)

“Kensuke’s Kingdom” concept artwork. (Courtesy of the filmmakers. Click to enlarge.)


  • Ravlic

    Could we ever get a western animated feature set in a country that’s NOT Japan and only occasionally China? Maybe my memory is sketchy, but I remember there being more than two countries in existence in that part of Asia.

    • AmidAmidi

      This film isn’t set in Japan. The setting is Papua New Guinea.

      • William Bradford

        Yes looks like a war vet strayed onto the island and was raised by Orangutans. So I would’ve thought Indonesia somewhere haha

      • Ravlic

        Well, I picked a bad example to complain about that.

  • Ravlic

    Considering how rarely they even try to be historically/culturally accurate, I’d sooner say they’re just trying to pander to the sizeable young anime audience that’s so fascinated with Japan.

    • Tim Tran

      unlike America, Asia doesnt even think of historical accuracy in this time and day. Yes, they did when Mulan came out, but now, their most popular shows and films aren’t even historically accurate. as long as the film is gorgeous to look at and have 3D IMAX, Chinese will go watch. Japan is more looking at quality, but they dont really care about diversity or accuracy.

      • Ravlic

        KFP’s success was because it was a comedy based on kung fu movies, which are shared cultural aspects between China and America, something Mulan failed at. No, viewers aren’t scrutinizing movies based on historical accuracy (and neither are Americans), but you’re gonna have a hard time selling them an American movie that relies on being ‘exotically Asian’ as something that’s supposed to feel like home because you don’t have to be a history expert to tell the difference.

  • Marc Hendry

    “hand-drawn characters, miniature landscapes, matte painting, and CG environment effects to tie it all together”
    Sounds like a dream! Neil is the man!