Steven Universe Background Art

The background art in “Steven Universe” is an enthralling aspect of the show, inviting viewers into a vibrant, imaginative world. Its captivating visuals set a tone and atmosphere that greatly contributes to the series’ storytelling and character development. Let’s explore the universe behind the artistry of these stunning backgrounds.

How was the background art created in Steven Universe?

Steven Universe’s background art is a combination of traditional illustration and digital painting. Artists start with hand-drawn sketches before refining them with digital tools to achieve the desired level of detail and vibrancy.

  1. Concept and Storyboards: Every episode starts with a storyboard. The storyboard provides a rough idea of the narrative and the necessary backgrounds. It’s during this stage that the general look and mood of the scenes are established.
  2. Design and Layout: Once the storyboards are approved, they move on to the design and layout phase. Background artists sketch detailed designs for each background, incorporating the director’s and storyboard artist’s vision. These designs serve as the blueprint for the final background paintings.
  3. Color Scripts: Color plays a crucial role in “Steven Universe.” Before diving into the final painting, background artists or color stylists decide on a color script for the episode. This script ensures that the backgrounds have a consistent and harmonious color palette that matches the mood and narrative of the story.

What is the significance of background art in animated series like Steven Universe?

Background art sets the stage for the story. It provides context and builds the world where characters live, helping to convey emotions, themes, and narratives without the need for dialogue or direct exposition.

  1. Atmosphere and Mood: Backgrounds set the tone for each scene. Whether it’s the tranquil and homey feeling of Beach City or the mysterious, otherworldly aura of Gem locations, the background art helps convey the intended mood.
  2. Storytelling: Backgrounds can provide context and further the narrative. They can hint at past events, suggest the passage of time, or even foreshadow upcoming events. In “Steven Universe,” the remnants of past Gem battles and the architecture of the Gem Homeworld subtly inform viewers about the show’s lore.
  3. Character Context: The environment in which a character exists or is placed can say a lot about their personality, history, or current emotional state. For instance, Steven’s house, a mix of the mundane and magical, reflects his dual identity as both a human and a Gem.

Are there any tutorials on creating Steven Universe-style background art?

Numerous online tutorials and workshops delve into the Steven Universe art style. Many fans and professional artists alike have created guides on achieving similar aesthetics.

  1. YouTube: This is one of the best platforms for art tutorials. Simply search for “Steven Universe background art tutorial” or a similar phrase.
  2. Art Websites: Websites like DeviantArt or ArtStation often have tutorials created by fans or professionals.
  3. Blogs: Some artists might post tutorials or walkthroughs on their personal blogs or websites.

How do the background designs change when characters fuse in Steven Universe?

When characters fuse, the world often shifts to reflect their combined personalities and powers. The backgrounds become more dynamic, adopting color palettes and themes that mirror the fusion’s essence.

  1. Abstract Imagery: Fusion sequences often make use of abstract visuals. The distinct personalities and energies of the characters involved are visualized through dynamic patterns, shapes, and colors.
  2. Enhanced Color Palette: Fusion scenes are usually accompanied by vibrant and saturated colors. The colors chosen often represent the emotions and energies of the fusion. For example, a harmonious fusion may showcase serene and fluid colors, while a more turbulent fusion could be presented with sharp contrasts.
  3. Dynamic Motion: Backgrounds often have elements that move, swirl, or pulse during the fusion, symbolizing the characters’ energies intertwining and becoming one. This motion is synchronized with the music and the characters’ dance, creating a multi-sensory spectacle.
  4. Symbolism: The background art during fusion sequences is rich in symbolism. Elements like stars, spirals, or waves might be incorporated, each carrying its own meaning about the nature and power of the fusion.

What tools and software were used to create the background art in Steven Universe?

While traditional tools like pencils and inks were part of the initial process, digital software like Adobe Photoshop and Toon Boom played a pivotal role in refining and finalizing the art.

  1. Adobe Photoshop: Photoshop is one of the most popular software programs for digital painting and illustration. Many background artists prefer it due to its versatility and comprehensive brush options. The show’s backgrounds often possess a painted quality, which can be effectively achieved with Photoshop’s wide range of tools.
  2. Adobe Flash (now known as Adobe Animate): Flash/Animate is used for various aspects of animation production, including some elements of background design, especially when interactive or moving components are required.
  3. Toon Boom Harmony: Another popular software in the animation industry, Toon Boom offers a range of tools that are great for both character animation and background creation.
  4. Corel Painter: This software is known for its natural media emulation, allowing artists to create digital art that closely resembles traditional media, such as watercolor, oils, and pastels.
  5. Autodesk SketchBook: This is another digital drawing tool that some artists use for its natural drawing feel and brush options.

How does the background art differ between Homeworld and Earth settings in Steven Universe?

Homeworld settings are more geometric, with alien landscapes and architecture, while Earth settings like Beach City are more organic and familiar, drawing from real-world inspirations.

  1. Color Palette:
    • Homeworld: The Gem Homeworld typically uses a cooler, more otherworldly palette. It’s dominated by purples, blues, and teals, creating a feeling of being in an alien environment. These colors also sometimes reflect the sterile and rigid society of the Gems.
    • Earth (Beach City and Surroundings): Earth settings employ warmer, more natural colors. Beach City, for instance, is often bathed in soft pastels during the day and vibrant oranges and pinks during sunsets. This palette evokes a sense of familiarity, comfort, and organic beauty.
  2. Architectural Style:
    • Homeworld: Gem structures on Homeworld are vast, monolithic, and geometric. They often have a stark, intimidating appearance that showcases the Gems’ advanced technology and their emphasis on order and hierarchy.
    • Earth: Architectural designs on Earth are more varied and organic. Beach City buildings have a quaint, small-town feel, with diverse styles that show the individual personalities and histories of its residents.
  3. Nature vs. Technology:
    • Homeworld: Nature is conspicuously absent from many scenes set in the Gem Homeworld. Instead, there’s a focus on technology, machinery, and artificial constructs. This reflects the Gems’ technologically advanced but emotionally repressive society.
    • Earth: Earth settings, especially around Beach City, prominently feature nature. Whether it’s the ocean, the sandy beaches, forests, or the countryside, nature plays a vital role in grounding the story and providing a stark contrast to the Gem Homeworld.

Are there any fan-made recreations of Steven Universe background art?

Absolutely! The fan art community has passionately recreated and reimagined many iconic locations from the series, showcasing their admiration and the show’s influence on artistic endeavors.

  1. Reimagined Locations: Fans have taken familiar locations like Beach City, the Crystal Temple, or the Gem Homeworld and rendered them in different art styles, different times of day, or even different seasons.
  2. Mashups with Other Universes: It’s not uncommon to find art that combines the world of “Steven Universe” with other popular media. Imagine Beach City in the aesthetic of Studio Ghibli films, or the Gem Homeworld rendered in the style of classic anime.
  3. Original Locations: Some talented artists have taken to creating entirely new locations that might exist within the “Steven Universe” world, using the show’s signature style, color palettes, and visual motifs as a guide.
  4. Tutorials and Learning Resources: Given the popularity of the show’s aesthetic, many artists have shared tutorials on how to recreate the “Steven Universe” background art style, guiding fans step-by-step through the process of creating their own pieces.
  5. Animated Fan Works: Beyond static art, some particularly ambitious fans have tried their hand at animating their own “Steven Universe” stories or scenes. These animations often come with recreated or entirely new background art that is influenced by the show.

What role do lighting and shading play in Steven Universe’s background art?

Lighting and shading are paramount for setting the mood. They dictate the time of day, emphasize important narrative elements, and enhance depth and dimension in every scene.

  1. Setting the Mood and Tone: One of the most immediate impacts of lighting and shading is in setting the scene’s mood. Whether it’s a serene sunset over Beach City or the ominous glow from a Gem artifact, lighting directs the viewer’s emotions in line with the narrative.
  2. Depth and Dimension: Lighting and shading are instrumental in creating a sense of three-dimensionality in a two-dimensional medium. They give volume to characters, depth to scenes, and make the world feel tactile and layered.
  3. Time and Chronology: By varying the direction and intensity of light, the artists convey different times of day or night. This helps in tracking the progression of time within an episode, creating a natural rhythm to the story.

In conclusion

The background art of “Steven Universe” isn’t just a passive element; it’s an active participant in the storytelling process. Its intricate designs, innovative techniques, and vibrant color palettes play a pivotal role in bringing Rebecca Sugar’s vision to life.

Leave a Comment