The Year Without a Santa Claus opens with a long shot of Santa Claus’ house—the establishing shot, as they say in the movie biz. It’s early morning, dark, with light coming from one bedroom window—the only warm spot in the picture.
For Santa’s house I looked to the architecture of northern Europe and Russia, cultures close to the North Pole. I didn’t want to do a candy-cane swirly sugar plum North Pole—I wanted create a believable place where Santa lives and works. Here are some examples of buildings in Norway and Russia. There seems to be plenty of lumber there, and the builders made the most of it. (I scanned these photos from library books but neglected to copy down the sources.)
No thumbnail sketch for this image. Anahid (the AD) asked me to create an establishing shot instead of beginning the story in Santa’s bedroom. I went straight to tight sketch, as you see here. Once approved, I painted the final. I used color to help tell the story—the images start with cold grays and blues, then warm up as the story progresses.