The Art of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

8:15 PM

Credit to Sony Pictures for these images.
(Visual and minor spoilers from the film)
By film editor, Ajay Ascano

Welcome to my first article of 2019!

To start off this new year of articles, I wanted to showcase and analyze certain pieces of design and stylistic choices from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse concept art and final film screenshots. Some pieces of art will just be there for the sake of showcasing, and some will be talked about.

This movie was visually stunning, translating multiple Spider-men into 3D-- Spider-men that have been usually only shown in the 2D comic media.

Character Design

A fundamental of character design, especially for cartoons, is to have silhouettes that are unique, as to still be able to tell the difference between characters. As you can see from the 3rd shot, which showcases all six Spider-people, they each have different characteristics that define their outer silhouette.

You can see that some characters in the shot above have a specific, defining outline. Starting from the left: Scorpion has a giant scorpion tail, Kingpin takes up nearly 30% of the shot, amplifying his largeness, and the Prowler’s overall screen width is bigger because of his cape. He also stands out due to his contrasting colors of green and purple.

Screen Filters/Art Style Choices

The Spider-gang. Left to right: 
  • Peni has a CGI Anime style: big eyes, sharp hair.
  • Gwen has a smoother and less detailed visual palette, i.e., mostly “cel-shaded.”
  • Spider-Ham has a cartoony style and has squash and stretch frames when moving.
  • Miles has a look akin to the Walking Dead franchise of games, with thick black lines defining facial features.
  • Earth-616 Peter Parker is a mix of Miles and Gwen, but mostly closer to Miles.
  • Spider-Man Noir is obviously black and white and is also animated as if he were a true comic book, having the most visible dotted gradient.

A lot of the film’s shots involve the use of Ben-Day dots, a gradient technique used to produce a comic book visual similarity. This shot is also just a blast of vibrant colors.

This is used in conjunction with a 3D Red and Blue filtered overlay, which is a unique technique that I have never seen used for a specific visual style.

Set Pieces

Finally, I would like to talk about the background design of the film. Spider-Man usually reigns free in New York… and New York's primary color for their skyscrapers is gray. So, in order to make backgrounds visually pop without distracting the viewer too much, the art team mixed a lot of warm and cool colors and had the majority of light sources come from advertisement screens or bright windows.

This particular scene was stunning to watch. Miles rises, not falls.

Thanks for reading.

I hope that if you’ve seen/will see this movie, that you will appreciate the art as much as I did. Trust me, it’s even more stunning when it’s in motion.
See you next time!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Ajay

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