Printed art-of books can be beautiful objects to own, but they are an inefficient format for collecting the massive amounts of artwork generated for most animation projects. A new Danish company, Craft, aims to solve that problem by making all the artwork from animated projects available on the subscription site ItsOnCraft.com, an “ever-evolving interactive art-of book” as the company puts it.
Craft, which launched on May 1, gives users unprecedented access to art and conceptual materials from animated features, series, and games. Among the items included (or to be included) is concept art, storyboards, scripts, character designs, animatics, animation pencil tests, background paintings, and more. The initial content on the platform includes material from Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells, as well as the TV series Ernest & Celestine: The Collection and the online series The Reward: Tales of Alethrion.
The digital archive seems best suited to professional artists and animation students who can use it to study and compare different versions of scenes, look at source files to deconstruct scenes, and find reference for their own projects.
“We know how long it takes to get an idea from script to screen—think of all of the amazing and inspiring work that goes into the making of a film that never makes it into the final product,” says Craft CEO and co-founder Frederik Villumsen. “It’s all part of the process, but why should that material sit on a shelf or languish on a hard drive somewhere?” (Villumsen is also the CEO of the Danish animation studio Nørlum, which co-produced Song of the Sea and Long Way North.)
Craft also aims to build a community around creating animation, and encourages users to ask questions and engage directly with the creators. The companies that use the service can add notes to the artwork and answer users’ questions about the material they’ve made available. An accompanying Craft Store will allow people to purchase merchandise, prints, and other items, like 3D printed character figures.
While the offerings available on Craft are relatively thin at the moment, the idea has real potential to evolve into something great. What’s nice about Craft is that provides a benefit to everyone in our community: students and pros can use it as an education and professional development tool, fans have a new way to support and enjoy access to projects they like, and content creators gain a new revenue stream since 50% of Craft’s revenue is redistributed among filmmakers who provide content for the service.
“Early-bird” subscribers can join Craft for $6 per month, while group discounts are available to schools and organizations.