For her role as Visual Development Artist on Wreck-It Ralph, Lorelay Bove tapped into her Spanish roots and her love of Catalan modernist architecture to help influence the style, color and character design for Sugar Rush, a candy-coated cart racing game. Inspired by this distinct artistic style that includes such masters as Antoni Gaudi, the filmmakers were able to envision Sugar Rush as a sweet landscape environment that was both credible and melt-in-your-mouth edible.
With Wreck-It Ralph about to be released for the home entertainment market, we chat to the talented artist to discover more about the hilarious, arcade-hopping animation and the amazing artistry behind it…
How did you get your big break in animation, Lorelay?
It took me many years to get into Disney. Right after high school, I applied to CalArts, which is a school that Disney founded. They have a really good animation program, but I didn’t get in, so I went to another school for two years to build a stronger portfolio. After that, I took a year off to build on my portfolio even more. I took various classes; including life drawing, animation classes and design classes – and then I got into CalArts.
How did you get into Disney?
I went to CalArts for four years and while I was there I got an internship at Disney. I was so impressed by the artistry and the hard work. It blew me away! I also had an internship at Pixar, but then I came to Walt Disney Animation as a trainee. I’ve been here for five years now.
What Disney movies have you worked on?
I worked on The Princess And The Frog, Tangled and Winnie The Pooh, as well as a few shorts like The Ballad Of Nessie and Prep & Landing.
How would you describe your involvement with Wreck-It Ralph?
I was the key designer of Sugar Rush in Wreck-It Ralph, so I was involved in designing the world of Sugar Rush. I was involved in everything from the characters to the style of the world.
What inspired you to create the crazy, candy-filled world of Sugar Rush?
When I interned at Pixar, they gave me an assignment for my portfolio: Hansel And Gretel. They are really big on research at Pixar, so they asked me to research the subject in great detail, as well as look at my past experiences and things that have happened in my life that can be incorporated into the subject. This makes the subject feel stronger and more genuine – and that’s when I thought of using a style similar to that of [Spanish architect] Antoni Gaudi for the gingerbread house.
Did you use your research for Hansel & Gretel to create the world of Sugar Rush?
Exactly. When [Wreck-It Ralph director] Rich Moore pitched the idea of having a sugarcoated, candy-land world in the movie, I already had lots of research in my portfolio. They pitched my ideas to John Lasseter and he really liked it. He said, “Yes, that feels very fresh.”
What’s it like to work with John Lasseter?
It’s great to work with John Lasseter because he’s always got lots of suggestions. Whenever we meet for approvals, all of the artists come together and they are all allowed to speak their mind. That’s when the best ideas come because someone will say something that sparks an idea in someone else.
How would you describe your research trip to Spain?
It was a very fun and informative trip. We went to Barcelona to study the modernist architecture that abounds in the city. From Barcelona we flew to Germany to attend the largest candy convention in the world.
What did you learn at the candy convention?
We took a lot of pictures of all the different candies from all over the world. And it wasn’t just candy, but chocolate and cakes as well. We learned about the different surfaces and textures of candy because we thought it would be great to cover King Candy’s castle in all different kinds of sugar.
How did you incorporate your research into the King Candy’s castle and the world of Sugar Rush?
The storyboard artists were already working on the movie; but they just worked on a skeleton for the castle, the bare bones. We then added to the design after the trip. We’d have conversations with [art director] Mike Gabriel where we’d say things like, “This gummy candy with sugar sparkles on top would be great for our race track.” Let’s use them!
How much fun did you have creating the candy-themed racers of Sugar Rush?
That was a lot of fun. Each of the racers is based on a different candy or flavor, but the cars were designed first, so I had to create each character based on their car’s design. There’s a peanut butter racer, a tiramisu racer and a candy corn racer, as well as racers inspired by cherry pie and ice cream popsicles.
Who is your favorite racer?
Taffyta is my favorite. I came up with a lot of different designs, but at the very beginning, Rich Moore explained her personality to me. He said, “Make her the girl from school that would hate Vanellope.”
How long did it take you to create Taffyta?
It didn’t take too long, but I did have a lot of fun coming up with different designs for her.
Which racer took the longest to design?
Vanellope took the longest. I didn’t work on her design by myself; it was a collaboration of lots of artists, but I started on her and then it went back and forth to different people. That was a long journey.
Why did she look so different back then?
In the beginning, Rich wanted her to look like a Dr. Seuss-inspired character mixed with Pippi Longstocking. But then John Lasseter thought that we might not connect to her as much, so we made her into a little girl. In the early design, she had a different hairstyle and a different outfit – but she gradually became the Vanellope you see in the movie. We cut her hair and we made her eyebrows thicker along the way.
And finally, what advice would you give to animators whose dream it is to work for Disney?
Draw a lot! Keep a sketchbook with you wherever you go and draw everything you see. Watch a lot of movies, and for visual development specifically, paint from film. Watch live-action films and stop on a frame – especially classic films have really nice, tasteful color – and paint that for composition and color. That really helps.
Any final advice, Lorelay?
Work hard, and keep your dreams alive. Always!