I was curious to know more about the working methods on Samurai Jack and how the overseas painters matched the stateside paint colors, so I asked Scott whether they emailed scans of the comps, keys and backgrounds to Korea, or if they sent over the actual paintings. He was nice enough to reply and drop even more knowledge about the process.
"...on Sam Jack when you sent the keys to Rough Draft, were you sending the real keys, or scans of them?"
We sent the original paintings and scans. I scanned all the keys myself and color corrected them so they were accurate. At the time I think most shows just made color Xeroxes of everything and then shipped the originals overseas.
Once the keys are scanned they are ready for the "Color Models" to be created. All of the character designs, props and effects (anything that will animate) are scanned into the computer and color-filled by the "Color Stylist". The color stylist can't really start until they have the scanned background to judge their work over.
Before Samurai Jack all shows had outlines on their animation and some shows like Dexter's Lab had very thick line work. The outlines are very helpful in keeping everything "reading" over the background, remove them and you've got problems. The thicker the line the more fool proof the read.
On Samurai Jack our characters had no outline whatsoever so it was critical for me to make sure that the original color relationship between the "color keys"and the "color models" would not drift apart. Now here is what I imagined could happen overseas - the overseas painter paints a final background trying to match the color key but the colors are a bit off. Then they scan their final background which will throw the color off even more.
To get back on track there needed to be a color correction step that matched the final bg scan to my scan of the color key. I actually saw this being done when I visited Korea during the second season of SJ. It was incredible, the final scan was so far off that the people doing the correction were individually selecting every color and forcing it to match the key. They were working so fast I couldn't believe my eyes!
Attached is an example of a color model over a bg key from the "Jump Good" episode.
Here's the lovely example he sent over:
If any of you want more insider info about Samurai Jack, the round table discussion with Genndy, Scott and some of the other super talented folks on the Season 4 DVD is great. You should own it.