Inspiring animation portfolio attracts all the right attention

DreamWorks’ Shelley Page discovered animation concept artist Alejandro Diaz recently and says he’s one to watch...

Alejandro’s designs for his graduation film Home Sweet Home caught Shelley’s expert eye

I love discovering great new artist portfolios and websites – particularly student work, which is often so inspiring! A question I frequently get asked is: "What exactly do you look for in a concept art portfolio?"

One outstanding recent discovery is concept artist and matte painter Alejandro (Alex) Diaz. His designs for his delightful graduation film Home Sweet Home are lively and appealing and his excellent portfolio instantly attracted my attention at his graduation show last summer.

The story of this charming and unusual film – where two small buildings escape from their suburban foundations and set off on an epic journey across the USA – provided great design opportunities for exploring many different locations, times of day, changing seasons and interior and exterior environments.

The great success of Alex's artwork is that he imbues the story with a range of emotional highlights through his subtle colour palettes and lighting choices, which gave his team an amazing canvas to build on.
This variety of designs is key to a really successful concept art portfolio for feature animation.

I mainly look for artists who can tell many different stories using a range of techniques

Some concept artists feel most confident working in a particular style (whether fantasy, graphic or photoreal), however, I mainly look for artists who can tell many different stories using a range of colour and lighting techniques, and design styles.

Alex's portfolio presentation includes some great examples of early designs

Alex's portfolio presentation includes some great examples of early designs for both the main characters (the buildings) and the key locations. It is always helpful to see early concepts, work-in-progress and finished designs through to final film images – especially when looking at designs for CG animation projects. I particularly love the variety of skies in this film – the weather is almost another character in the story!

One of my favourite moments in Home Sweet Home is the magical ice-skating sequence – who knew that houses can skate!

This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 181.