Meet Our New Protagonist: Ilona

Now that we’re finally wrapping up our eight-month-long production of The Girl and the Fox I can start leaking some more tantalizing details of just what the new film is all about. First off, I’d like you all to meet our main protagonist: Ilona [ee-loh-nah]. She is a nine-year-old girl who lives with her parents and siblings in a cold, lush forested region. Ilona takes after her mother in appearance, but after her father in fervor and tenacity. Having been brought up as the daughter of fur trappers, she is unafraid to brave the dangers of the wilderness alone. But as we’ll see, it can sometimes lead to trouble.

Here are the two main model sheets our animators and painters used during production:

Ilona’s character design was inspired by a number of sources, most notably Alysha’s concept designs for her fashion line this year, but also by the work of the Australian artist Ghost Patrol. The original idea and story was driven by this theme of children and woodland creatures in cold weather, with a flair of mystical qualities interwoven throughout. Her clothing and features had to be a perfect balance of an old-fashioned hunter/trader society while still making it apparent she was a girl, especially with that hood on for most the time. The tiny skirt helps a lot.

The design style also is an evolution of some of the elements used in Duck Heart Teslacoil, specifically the simplistic facial features, such as black dot eyes and single-line mouth. Much of this was adapted to keep the character design simple, since we needed to make it easier for a larger pool of animators to draw her. Still, Ilona can show a wide range of emotions and poses. She was certainly the most difficult character I’ve ever had to design for a film, but I’ve been happy with the results and hopefully our audiences will be, too.