I think one of these is Bill Wray's, but I'm not sure which...
Color style and paint technique are 2 different skills and talents. All these paintings by Scott Wills have very clever color styling and expert technique.
I've worked with a lot of talented painters. Scott stands out as someone who has a really high level of skill in technique.
What I mean by technique (as opposed to color) is the ability to handle brushes and paint tools with:
A wide variety of brush looks- drybrush, airbrush, textures etc...
Control of values and hierarchies of contrasts in the values.
Scott may possibly be the neatest painter I have every known. His work is super clean and precise.
I myself am the sloppiest painter on earth and have the highest admiration for someone who can make brushes do what they want them to do.
Here is a potentially busy BG that is rendered completely readable and fun by Scott's skill in creative decision making. It's very colorful and fun without being stock cartoon colors.
He has broken down the pan into groups of color families and separated each group from the background colors by putting black areas between the foreground groups and background colors. Black, like grays, whites and browns are neutral colors and tend to not compete with brighter more primary, secondary colors.
The background is a slightly grayed purple and olive green in a slightly darker than mid range value.
Any colors placed directly on top of the mid range colors-if they were of similar value would not separate very well. Putting black between the foreground colors an the BG colors separates them without competing with them.
In this mountain range, the values are kept close; not a lot of contrast. The contrasts are supplied by the washy greenish foliage against the pink sky.
Because the contrasts are low, characters or animation levels would read easily against this BG.
The contrasts in the above picture are higher, suggesting that we are supposed to notice the tree branches. The details behind them are much lower in value contrasts, yet have enough detail to make the image atmospheric rather than completely cold and flat.
There aren't a lot of different paint techniques employed in this particular modern cartoon style-mostly drybrush and sponge - harkening back to early Hanna Barbera BGs (and Ren and Stimpy's version of that style).
But Scott's control of these minimal techniques and the clever color choices makes the BGs feel rich and much more colorful than what we normally think of as cartoon backgrounds. In the minds of many studios, cartoon colors mean garish colors. Garish equals colorful. Garish to me means ugly and formulaic.
Painters like Scott have an extra daunting task, having to take super flat and cold layout drawings like these and somehow warm them up and wring some fun and mood out of them.
Painters like Scott are rare. This is not the only style he does, unlike many artists who copy this style.
I constantly challenged Scott (and Bill Wray and my other painters) to experiment with different techniques and moods that would help enhance the stories.
This modern background style (especially in the drawing) is to me a very restrictive set of rules, outside of which the painter can't stray without undermining the "style" of the series.
Personally, I don't want to have a house style or a set of rules for any cartoon series. Every story and gag has the potential of using different paint techniques.
Scott painted beautiful moody and deep BGs for Son of Stimpy that were in a completely different style than the more graphic paintings in say, Sven Hoek.
I'm sure I drove all my talented painters crazy by never settling on a style. I bombarded them constantly with inspiration from illustrations, old movies, kids' books, old cartoons, fashion magazines, nature photography and anything that had strikingly interesting looks that you weren't used to seeing in cartoons.
Scott and Bill in turn brought their own inspirations and ideas to the shows and that's why there are so many different approaches to both color and paint techniques in Spumco cartoons.
Hard to do, stressful but in the end everyone is proud of the experimentation.
Thanks to Pumml for collecting up all of Scott's great work.
SCOTT WILLS ARTICLES BY PUMMMMMML
Here are some other paintings that have excellent technique in different styles of technique and color.
These colors are more "cartoon standard" than the Samurai Jack BGs, but have great and varied paint technique.
http://animationbackgrounds.blogspot.com/Garish color, amazing technique.
Beautiful color, garish yet expert technique.