5 Designers Reveal Secrets Of James Cameron's Avatar

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James Cameron's Avatar required many technical miracles, including next-gen 3-D cameras and motion-capture, but it also needed years of sketching and brainstorming from a platoon of concept-artists and designers. We talked to five designers, and learned Avatar's secret design history.


We interviewed creature designers Wayne Barlowe and Neville Page, plus concept artists James Clyne, Ryan Church and Daphne Yap, about creating a whole new universe from scratch. Plus we've got some stunning concept art, from the new book The Art Of Avatar. In a year that's seen some amazing books of movie concept art, The Art Of Avatar features 106 pages of lush full-color paintings, interspersed with the industry's greatest design minds geeking out about every little aspect of Avatar's creation.

So here are a few things you didn't know about the design of James Cameron's Avatar:

Avatar Started As A Four-Month, Late-Night Jam Session At James Cameron's House

"[We'd be] working late at Jim's house, and having him come back after a three week spell of being down at the freaking Titanic, and having him tell us a story [about being on the ocean floor]." Read the rest of the story.

Pandora's creatures were partly based on cars

Early on in the process, James Cameron "mentioned the core idea" of having Pandora's creatures be "superslick and aerodynamic, and be like a race car with racing stripes," says creature designer Neville Page. Read the rest of the story.


Those crazy color schemes are from the ocean floor — and Art Nouveau

"In the real world, we didn't invent these colors. They exist on animals today. We didn't invent a whole new palette. I think the problem is — the challenge is — you don't often see large creatures with this much color on them." Read the rest of the story.


The human hardware, including those crazy battlesuits, is all based on real stuff

"One thing I worked on big interior for the mech suits, and the whole interior had to have a reason and function for why the suits were lined up the way they were, and how they could work on them like a pit-stop at an F1 race. It had to have that functionality." Read the rest of the story.


Avatar concept art from The Art Of Avatar (Abrams 2009)



5 comments in before we have our first "I hope this movie fails" comment. I honestly don't get what people have against this film. The maker of Aliens & T2 gets at least one mistake out of me before I second guess his movies, and he's yet to fail.