Open Season 2‘s Coloring Page Clumsiness

I’ve discovered over the years that studying a studio’s movie advertising and film promotion collateral is often a good way of gauging the studio’s overall health. For example, compare this coloring page that Sony Pictures Animation created for the first Open Season:

Open Season coloring page

to what arrived in our email yesterday from a PR company promoting Open Season 2:

Open Season coloring page

This is a fairly significant lapse in quality control. How hard is it to have an artist spend a couple hours whipping up a proper illustration of the studio’s franchise characters? Instead they created the line art by tracing the contours from a CG model resulting in an awkward, wonky, tangent-filled piece of crud. Infer what you want from this little promotional piece, but I don’t see successful studios like Pixar and DreamWorks making these type of bush-league mistakes.

For the record, the PR company also made us this offer: “We are happy to offer DVD giveaways with this coloring page as well.” I think we’ll take a raincheck on that offer.


  • some guy

    Agreed, the coloring book looks ugly, but I gotta say that the movie is actually pretty damn good. I saw a screening of it about a month ago and I gotta say I was impressed. I liked it better than the first one.

  • http://www.kevindart.com kevin

    i like the open season 2 drawing a lot better. it has a lot more character and life than the stiff, thick-outlined, floating-bear drawing used for the first open season page. and i’m not sure who’s to say which one had better quality control, as they both look fairly off-model to me. but at least the second one has a sense of movement and space.

  • Andrew

    If you’re looking for quality in a studio’s promotional material, coloring pages aren’t the way to go in general.

  • Victor

    It would be awesome to hear a John K review of these drawings.

  • Will From London

    I saw the start of Open Season 2 on the internet – the animation was pathetic! I’m not kidding you, all it was actually about was that guy losing his horns.

  • Chuck R.

    The first one looks much better to me, but I wouldn’t try to draw any conclusions about the studio’s “health” by comparing these two. Big budgets don’t guarantee good art. In fact bad art has a way of naturally occurring, unless everyone handling the project is vigilant and discriminating every step of the way. Even if it is the result of cost-cutting, I’d expect Sony to spend more money on promotion when the movie is newer and fresher. Also keep in mind that coloring pages are probably pretty far down on a studio’s list of concerns.

    I think the fact that they are doing a promotion of a 2-yr old movie at all says more about the company than the quality of the art itself.

  • Mike L

    Will…that’s the story…not the animation… you can have a terrible story that is well animated…. which from your description sounds more accurate.

    I wouldn’t think this would be a good barometer…as if I were any manager in this process…I wouldn’t stick a good artist on this. It looks like it was done in Flash very quickly. Promotions probably doesn’t have nearly the same level of quality control as the actual movie itself…especially for something as simple as an e-mailable colouring sheet.

    If this were the movie’s first run I would say that the extra effort is worth it..but honestly, my only beef with the second picture is:

    Too much detail… way too much going on…
    Same line weight… no variation to differentiate between parts. Having it all the same is bad design…having it all thin is even worse.

  • http://www.warnerart.com Eric

    First off – Kevin, you’re FIRED!

    The Open Season 2 image looks like it was created by an artist who just learned the basics of Illustrator. I’ve done the occasional piece of marketing art and generally it goes something like this….

    Marketing: Do you have time to whip up a quick flyer for me?

    Me: No, I’m very busy with my project

    Marketing: Well, we really need something.

    Me: Ok, how soon do you need the piece?

    Marketing: We need it end of day?

    Me: End of day? Are you serious?

    Marketing: Yep, we’re doing our big launch.

    Me: That’s not enough time.

    Boss to marketing: We’ll manage something

    Boss to me: Whip up a piece of crud to keep Marketing happy.

    More than likely the first Open Season image was done by a contractor who took the time necessary to create something of substance.

  • http://[email protected] Andrew Leal

    For the record, here’s the cover for the Open Season 2 DVD:
    http://www.movieposterdb.com/poster/77c8cc63

    Clearly, for the top part of the second image, someone simply traced over that with some program or other (Illustrator sounds about right, per Eric), without making any adjustments for the transition from a CG image to a linear coloring picture (as seems to have been done with the first one). Just a quickie assignment. Without color, texturing, shading, and other dimensionality, the characters, who actually look reasonably appealing on the actual cover, become creepy-looking outlines.

    The dog image was either traced from an earlier version of the cover or other promotional materials.

  • http://www.kevindart.com kevin

    the second drawing makes me laugh, especially that horrible dog. the first drawing doesn’t make me do anything except wonder whether the bear is actually standing on the grass or levitating above it. also, his body takes up like 40% of the composition – it’s just boring to look at and awkwardly framed. not sure what substance you are seeing in there.

    p.s. “weiner takes all”? CLASSIC!

  • http://www.madmind.de/ Gunther

    To me the huge drop of quality can more be found in the fact that Open Season 2 is a direct to video sequel and that Sony Pictures most likely doesn’t want to waste much money.

    Oh, and sorry, Kevin but I have to agree with the others. The second image doesn’t have more character. It simply is bad.

  • yoob

    Eric has the right idea.

  • http://spitandspite.com A

    Actually, this looks like they posed out the characters and then clicked the ol’ vector/toonshade render in Maya… It gives you lines very similar to that and if they’re looking to save cash, considering that movie (i believe) had like 1/3 the budget of the original one, rendering out CG stills in “cell shading” mode might be a really cheap and cost effective way of creating quick and dirty promo stunts as seen above no?

    I’m curious to how you feel about Coudy With A Chance Of Meatballs Amid since a first image has already started floating around…

  • http://www.kevindart.com kevin

    they are BOTH awful hahaha… i guess is the point i was trying to make. i just thought the first image deserved as much critcism as the second. i mean, aside from the tracing i personally don’t see a huge drop in quality here. i still think the dog is hilarious though. there might be some hidden genius behind that??

  • Mudron

    How does the second image have ANY sense of movement or space? Granted, the first image isn’t a cartooning masterpiece, but there isn’t even anything that’s supposed to be moving in the first place in that second image – it’s just a pair of badly-drawn floating heads, a crappy-looking dog and some text.

  • http://www.randombrainwave.com John Surname

    I think the exec who came up with the line “Weiner Takes All” deserves a sharp pay increase, and some sort of prize ham. It’s pun-tastic!

  • Chris

    So we’re all critiquing a children’s coloring book? Really? After a layer of crayon scribbles, does it really matter about line quality or the erosion of quality from one to the other? There must be something out there in the animation ether that’s more worthy of discussion.

  • Liesje

    For someone that’s done their fair share of inking and clean-up work, the biggest problem I have with the second image is line quality or lack-there-of. The first image, while maintaining it’s own flaws, simply has more life due to the line quality. I think that’s where the lack of effort shows in the second.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    Proper illustration only takes “a couple hours”?

    That was probably the thinking that precipitated the second image.

  • christian

    Both looks terrible!!! Here a good exemple of what a good coloring image should look like. This is done on a low budget TV show and looks 10 times better.

    http://www.noggin.com/games/printables/pdf/toot_india_color_pack.pdf

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    I’ve had illustration jobs that required finished art in a couple of hours. What I’m saying is, for the money, I’ve done terrible illustrations.

    Sony’s output to date (I think it’s just Open Season and Surf’s Up!) are both pretty solid. Surf’s Up! was great, and Open Season was beautiful to look at and much better overall than I had expected. I wouldn’t be so hard on them. The sequel should have been a theatrical release with a higher budget. These films are a hell of a lot better than the Ice Ages or the Shreks that go on to undeserved billions at the BO.

  • EHH

    Bolt did a pretty good job with its coloring books.

  • Siamang

    I see Amid has graduated from reviewing movies based on trailers or leaked development art, and now he can diagnose the entire health of a studio based on a coloring-book picture!

    AMAZING!

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    You think that’s bad? I’m wondering what’s going on with this Star Wars coloring book page: http://www.boingboing.net/images/DarthAndLeiaColoring-1.jpg

  • matt

    Wow Amid, you found a NEW tail-wagging-the-dog way to criticise CG! ;P

    I think they’re BOTH done in Illustrator, and BOTH look awful, the only difference being the first image was done by someone who knows about different brush options.

    The 3/4 views in the first one look absolutely like lineart of CG models, not hand-originated. Look at the eyes. IMHO. The weight of the treeline is atrocious. The second one lacks any personality (even artificial) whatsoever!

    I’m sure every artist who ever hand-inked a pencil drawing will agree that whether you ink on one side or the other of a mouth line or eye line makes all the difference in the world, and that Illustrator’s “autotrace” function is the spawn of the devil, being what the lens flare filter is to Photoshop. Oh but (sarcasm alert) you can save it as an EPS (for those who think it’s still the dawn of the DTP age), and not have to use Pshop which no-one is really proficient in anyway…!

    Eric, wouldn’t it go more like this?:

    Me: That’s not enough time.

    Boss leaves.

    Boss to intern: Hey you! We need this yesterday!

    Intern: Sure thing sir! Can do! Yes sir!

    (Intern runs a quick autotrace/does a cut & paste of existing styleguide images, even using parts of turnarounds (true story), and then a quick clean-up)

    Shortly thereafter:

    Intern: Here you go sir!

    Boss: Wow! That’s fantastic – and more importantly FAST! We might get you onto some more important stuff, kid!

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Open Season is my 6th favorite animated film (Delgo is number 7).
    I think both of these illustrations are WONDERFUL, especially the second one.

  • Luke

    Amid, the first image is a cg trace too. Here is the original it has been traced from:

    http://www.parentpreviews.com/movie-reviews/images/open_season.jpg

    I agree both of these drawings are very weak, but it`s a fair jump to using coloring pages as a gauge of a studios health.

  • Jorge Garrido

    Elliot, I’d go so far as to say Delgo is the #1 greatest animated feature film of all time, with Open Season 2 as close second. I know that’s not a popular opinion.

    But then again, is that wrong, to stand up for your beliefs? I don’t think so.

  • amid

    This is not simply an issue about the line quality or prettiness of a coloring page. It’s an issue about how nobody at Sony cares enough to ensure that their studio’s biggest characters are represented accurately in a coloring book. That’s a major fail on the studio’s part.

    I have a close friend creating this exact kind of material for the online site of another major animation producer. Every piece of art is carefully scrutinized and has to achieve a certain in-house standard. It’s not great art, but at the very least the characters are of a consistent quality and represent the shows accurately. In the OS2 image, there’s an extra line going through the dog’s leg where it shouldn’t be. Elliot’s head completely closes off the lines between his ears in a way that doesn’t make anatomical sense. In the first Open Season coloring page, they took the time to interpret the CG model properly and ensure that the characters made sense as coloring models.

    Others are entitled to their own opinions. Personally, I think it’s a very telling sign when a studio doesn’t give a hoot about the way their biggest stars are presented to the public.

  • matt

    Floyd! Well, uh does it count as incest if you don’t KNOW he’s your father?! Good God!

    That one is doubly painful to me (no I’m not a victim of incest) and especially significant to the topic, as a few years back I designed a SW colouring book (I used to do a fair bit of licenced art) and tried to walk the line between more cartoony designs and simplified line drawings in the “colouring-book (non-) style” they wanted. And tried to introduce a tiny modicum of composition too!

    Long story short I’d done a whole whack of pencils and they’d been approved with only slight modifications & only inking/illustrator work left to do. Lo and behold, even at that late stage it was decided to just use existing resources and wouldn’t you know another lifeless illustrator (oh what an oxymoron) piece is added to the pile. And I had the same thing happen years earlier with apparel merch for the same licence!

    I can’t remember if that one was among them. I think I’ve blocked it.

    Finally, I’ve been on the other side too as high-profile character designs and styleguide art I’ve done have been Frankensteined to death and made me ashamed to have generated the designs in the first place. Yet marketing people still use “creative” as a derogatory term. We make things “difficult”!

  • Mike Russo

    It’s a cheap coloring book based on a CGI talking animal movie that’s going directly to DVD. I really, really don’t see what all the doom and gloom is about.

  • Brad Constantine

    Eric and Matt, you hit the nail on the head!!
    Another fine example of how the Art Schools are failing to create artists that can actually draw versus using computer programs. Even if you’re given something to trace and half a day to do it, It doesn’t take a lot of experience to know that the foreground character lines should be thicker than the BG lines(#2). and that the emphasis on the eyes is very important, especially in a 2 character shot (#1).
    Maybe all they had was an etch a sketch to do it.

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    A coloring page isn’t the be all/ end all of a movie. That being said, I like the first page better because it would be easier for a kid to know what he’s coloring.
    Also, if all you have is half a day to crank something out, then you have to do the best you can, then move on. Maybe it was too late to do any corrections once the second page was turned in, and they had to go with it.
    I’m all for doing great work, but when there’s a deadline involved, you gotta do what you gotta do in the time allowed.
    I’ve worked with prima donnas who nursed stuff like this right up to the last minute, and I had no choice but to use the crap that was produced.

  • David

    I’ve worked on stuff like this. If it’s any consolation, the artist responsible probably hates him/herself.

  • http:www.warrenleonhardt.com warren

    This one’s always a personal favourite, to follow Mr. Bishop’s lead…

    [a href="http://warrenleonhardt.com/archives/661"]Over Their Heads – from an Over The Hedge colouring book[/a]

  • Texas CG Animator

    Quick thought.

    Open Season 2 was outsourced. Not done by the same animators as the original, nor was it produced in house. So far I think it looks pretty good. http://www.reelfx.com/ A Dallas based production house whose work includes some shots on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Everyone’s Hero.

    The Coloring and PR stuff was probably outsourced to a completely different facility than either film, as I don’t remember seeing any of the animators working on it.

    -