This part included everything from establishing a visual language and designing characters to creating a color scape.
Not to make excuses (warning: this is how all excuses start), but if I could do the project again, I would spend significantly more time on this visual development of the process. By the time I was done with the storyboard animatic, I had 5 weeks and a half to draw and animate the full music video. I ended up resorting to a character design that didn’t look too different from what I had made in the past, since I knew they worked and that I would be able to draw them quickly. 
Just like a rich repository of references during my content development provided a robust roadmap for the narrative, I needed one for the developing the visual language of the animation. Upon looking back at my video collections in Vimeo as well as my "Saved" tab on Instagram to revisit works that struck me in the past, I was able to quickly gather a number of works that well exemplified the kind of a visual treatment I aspired for. I screen-capped key moments from these works and printed them out to create a physical mood board right by my work station. I wanted my every encounter with these images - both conscious and subconscious - to be an opportunity to internalize their visual language.
(TOP) Igor + Valentine: Buster Williams with Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt (CLICK IMAGE FOR LINK)
(SECOND) Sophie Lim for Zing Audio: In search of Zing (CLICK IMAGE FOR LINK)

(THIRD) Sitji Chou for Giant Ant Animation Studio (CLICK IMAGE FOR LINK)
(BOTTOM) Sitji Chou for Lululemon (CLICK HERE FOR LINK)
Deciding the color palette was a task I was intimidated by even before I decided on the subject matter of my project. I’ve always had this complicated relationship with color where I’m haunted by the “what-if” that there might be a better color palette out there than the one I decide on. Of course, over the years I’ve learned to coax the anxiety by  learning to articulate the rationale for my choice in color palettes and seeing the value of these creative decisions. For this project, it was helpful to have an already existing color palette to reference, which I gathered based on the cover art of the musical soundtrack, the color scheme of the 1986 film, and other promotional arts of “Little Shop.” Solving the color palette was more so a series of rationales made in order to achieve clarity in storytelling and reinforcing the emotionality of the narrative. 
Once I assigned dark olive green to Seymour, the color palette for Audrey and the rest of the Skidrow environment came together pretty quickly. A saturated pink for Audrey was meant to contrast Seymour’s green, while the desaturated purple tones of the Skidrow seats were to both make Seymour stand out and reinforce the vibe of a depressing street. Because the arc of the song follows a transition from working during the day for the rich folks of Uptown to going back home in Skidrow, I wanted this shift to manifest visually as well. A color palette of saturated yellow and blue that carries the sophisticated and edgy vibe of a modern city seemed to well contrast, but also echo its dull counterpart, the diluted cream and dirty purple of Skidrow. Based on the general idea of colors I wanted to use, I was finally ready to put together a color-scape. 
(TOP) Color tests for Seymour & Audrey using colored pencils
(BOTTOM) Early color tests 
Creating a color-scape was something I did for the first time in this project, and also a critical component that was missing in my past, though not many, animated projects. Looking back, my uncertainty in own my color choices made the entire color treatment a stressful process because half way through the production process, I would find another color palette that better served the look and feel of the animation. To prevent such aberrations, creating a visual blueprint that shows at one glance how colors would work not just within each keyframe but also across the frames was so, so imperative to both my sanity and the actual picking of colors. 
First, I laid out all the screenshots of the major keyframes from the storyboard animatic. I printed the layout and ran it through the copier several times to water down the ink. I then went over the prints with colored pencils and started filling them out rather intuitively. 
Colorscape Round 01 using colored pencils
Once I reached a point I felt I got a general sense of what colors I wanted to use where, I repeated the process digitally, though this time in a much more guided manner after having explored my intuitive inclination. After many trials, I locked down on how I was going to assign the colors to each keyframe. Then,  I grouped the keyframes based on how I was going to actually draw and animate them, and numbered the groups sequentially. For each group was a dedicated Photoshop document, labeled with the number of the group. In each document, I drew all the elements that were to be composited in AfterEffects, and labeled them as subsets of the main group title. This way, not only was it easy to composite them in AfterEffects, but also made a consequential difference to revising and live-updating the drawn elements. 
Colorscape Round 02 using Photoshop
This systemizing of my process was honestly SO critical to how I was able to work at the speed I did, especially in the limited time I had. I know there are artist memes about how those who name their layers deserve the highest of praise, but it really is true that having an organized, streamlined process is really one of the biggest makers of professionalism. 
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