Lighting and Color in Animation Films

By: Animation Mentor

Pixar Incredibles ColorScript Lighting and Color in Animation Films

Lighting and color can enhance a scene or a film through various color palettes, tones, contrast, and hues. Is it a horror film? Is it a comedy? Is it dramatic? What kind of colors match these genres? What colors are audiences attracted to? Does the color and light detract or enhance the plot? These are questions to think about when lighting a scene or a film. This technique is called color scripting, the color schema varies to coincide with emotional beats and story arcs in a film.

Check out the beautiful color script in Pixar’s Finding Nemo and notice how the colors become muted coinciding with the darker emotional beats of the story and becomes brighter with the happier moments.

This is an excellent example of Sony Animation’s A Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs color script. The color schema changes throughout the story arcs of the film.

Pixar Ratatouille ColorScript Lighting and Color in Animation Films

An example of Pixar’s Ratatouille color script. Notice the pastel, sepia tones, and natural lighting reminiscent of Degas, Monet and the impressionist movement that really defines Paris at that time.

Pixar Up ColorScript Lighting and Color in Animation Films

Pixar’s Up color script conveys the usage of time elapsing and how the color changes between the “Real World” and Paradise Falls.

See more beautiful and inspirational color scripts in Pixar’s book, The Art of Pixar: 25th Anniv.: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation.

Want to learn more about color theory, color scripting, and lighting? Start now by taking the 6-week Lighting Your Shot Workshop, to tell your story through lighting and color.

  • Anders Sundstedt

    Thank you for this blog post on lighting and color in animation. Very good examples. It’s interesting how much the color changes between the scenes in the Up script. Need to watch Up, it’s one of those films on my list yet to watch. I used black and white in the start of one of my short animated films and then color for the rest, because it was to show it was in the past, 100 years in marketing.