Secret of Kells reference

I am posting some reference from the animated film “The Secret of Kells”

These are color timing sheets used to show the palette that will be for a specific sequence. The emotion and tone of each sequence is influenced not only by story line and action but is also set by the color and light and shadow.

The opening sequence is one of mystery and cold logic. So the color timer chose a gray blue/gray green palette with complimentary desaturated yellow and magenta for accents.

Also notice how the artist has played with light and shadow and camera angle to set the mood.

The next sheet is a happy go lucky goose chase sequence. Notice the colors are much more vibrant and saturated. The lighting is outdoors and bright.

The next sheet is in red. Whenever Vikings are a part of the story the image becomes almost monochrome red and black. This is to show the danger the vikings pose to the monks.

A color timing sheet from a scene where Brendan the hero of the story is about to face a scary mythical monster. The color palette is a washed out gray green with red as highlights to signify the danger. Notice they didn’t go with the full red of the vikings. The gray green to me signifies an older danger, not so immediate like the vikings.

Finally I am posting some color sketches. You will notice that in some cases the details, techniques, style, (cartoony not cartoony) are not as important as the feelings and mood that the image evokes.


About Aaron Schmidt

Lecturer of 3D Animation at Mahidol University International College in the Fine and Applied Arts Division
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5 Responses to Secret of Kells reference

  1. jul1anna says:

    Thanks for posting this! I can really see how they used color, angle, etc. to set the mood of the scenes. This is very helpful– I definitely have more of a direction for color schemes.
    I might have to check out the movie this weekend!

  2. dejavoovoo1 says:


    Thank you for your posting. It’s really lovely animated film, Aaron. I really appreciate it. I’ll find time to check it out. However, I’m eager to see more references from real films, or even mood & tone from real photos. This will be direction of the film how would it looks like for real. For instant, Has anybody watched “A tales of two sister”, Korean film. The tone, style, color schemes and emotion of each sequence are something different and very interesting.

    Keep in mind that a movie theme is “Zombie in Love”. I’d love to see how can we develop color, mood and tone into this story. We might comes up with new idea for feeling of the film and even creating difference.

  3. thestiltsofdeath says:

    This is so great! I love seeing color script – especially for this film because the palette changes radically throughout the movie. This is really helpful – is this something you’d like to see worked on (a similar palette-format) or not?

  4. Hi Lindsey,
    I think it should be used when creating the two worlds. The two worlds should be different inoverall color and style. If fact I feel there should be some changes of color palette when we go to the Mall of Madam Sunny also. Perhaps very purple with indigo and pink highlights to show it to be feminine but kind of old also.

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