The following images are development work for a short film I was producing called 'The Last Bird', an eco-fable set in an alternate future where the natural world as we know it today has disintegrated due to the exploding population of the human race and the cities and technology that houses them. The film was originally intended to be about the search for nature in our lives, and how we cannot truly disconnect from it.
Due to the complexity of the piece the full version wasn't made, but I did complete the keyframes for the 'dream sequence' in which the main character (a young girl) encounters 'The Phoenix'.
Above, thumbnail drawings for the phoenix character.
There is an obvious difference between the well-known phoenix myth of fire, destruction and renewal and the version I ended up producing. To achieve the loose dream-like state that the character had entered into I wanted to give the creature a 'divine' presence but still retain a surface of tangible textures (feathers as opposed to fire) so that interaction between the main character and the phoenix would work easily and logically for animation and story purposes. Therefore, the 'fire' idea was quickly abandoned to make the character more approachable and appealing to the main character and to make the interaction easier to understand and relate to from an audience perspective.
Above, one of the many versions for this creature design!
The final creature more closely resembles a Japanese or Chinese mythical bird, which has similar powers of rejuvenation to the western 'Phoenix' myth. The reason there is this union of eastern and western ideas was to allow the character to fit in with style of the film which combines iconic shapes of these two "styles".
Below is the final version of the creature design. It mixes a few different bird shapes and Eastern references.