The Art of My Little Pony: The Movie Reveals Many Upgrades and Missing Scenes
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has always worn its anime influence on its sleeve, so it’s appropriate that the beautiful, information-packed book The Art of My Little Pony: The Movie is being released by Viz Media, whose previous Art of books have all been for manga and anime properties such as Naruto and the films of Studio Ghibli. Indeed, unless you count Magic: The Gathering –- and, really, let’s not -- My Little Pony has the honor of being the subject of Viz’s first Art of book not based on a work of Japanese origin. Well done!
More than just a book of very pretty pictures, though it is definitely that, The Art of My Little Pony: The Movie goes into deep detail about the production. The first two chapters focus on what will probably be of most interest to viewers of Friendship Is Magic: how our existing characters and locations were upgraded for the film, using Toon Boom’s Harmony software.
Though like all movies it’ll be seen for most of its lifetime on smaller screens, the animators made sure My Little Pony: The Movie’s scope was appropriate for those handful of weeks in Fall 2017 when it can be experienced on a 50’ screen rather than 50” or 5”.
Among many other tweaks, art director Rebecca Dart writes that more color was added to the ponies’ pupils and extra sparkles to the iris to give the eyes more “shimmer and intensity,” since those tiny character details become 3’ tall on one of those aforementioned 50’ screens. This is also why the ovals in their eyes were given “a slight transparency and blur with a cyan edge” to soften their look, since the “hard-edged white highlights were coming off as too harsh.”
Similarly, the ponies now have inner ear folds, allowing them to swivel and point like the real thing, and which “improved the breadth of emotions they would be able to express.” (For those into such details, the RGB values are given for all the elements of the movie characters; Rarity’s inner ear fold is 223-215-224, for example, and Princess Twilight’s is 197-130-199.) And if the scale of the very large as an issue, so was the scale of the very small; as designer Michaela Martin writes, “Several characters had to have legs or necks thickened so the plastic wouldn’t break if they were made into toys.”
The majority of the book is necessarily about the new settings and characters, though no less interesting than what went into the film is what didn’t. We learn about some characters who didn’t survive to the final movie -- we never knew ye, Mud Trolls -- as well as many ideas that were considered but dropped because they didn’t click with the story, would be impractical to animate, or were too similar to things that had already been done on Friendship Is Magic. (Or in the case of a giant dragon skeleton, something that would be too dark for the series or the movie.) The book even hangs a lampshade on the fact that so much of the art in The Art of My Little Pony: The Movie is not in My Little Pony: The Movie, as designer Michaela Martin describes how the existence of this very book helped them cope with the heartbreak of designs which took days or weeks to create being scrapped because of changes in the story.
The spoiler-averse may want to avoid opening that book until after they’ve seen the movie, but The Art of My Little Pony: The Movie is also a fascinating read beforehand to see how the sparkly sausage is made, and that just might make the final product even tastier.
Images: MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE © 2017 My Little Pony Productions, LLC. Licensed by Hasbro.