• Imalou's "Designing the Ponies of G5" Panel (Complete!)

    BABSCon is currently running an online convention for everyone as per the usual with covid, and with that comes online panels! G5 character designer Imalou popped on to do an interview panel for everyone, and this is the writeup on what she said about her journey in delivering us some future pony!

    Head on down below the break!  


    (Update) Panel is over! Find it all below.

    Q: When did Imalou start in the fandom?
    A: Way back when Bridle Gossip released. Her first fan art was 2011


    Q: General question on her art career history

    A: She started off wanting to be a comic artist as a kid. She wasn't sure if she could make it in animation since it's a very closed industry in france. Eventually she realized how much she loves drawing and how much she gains of out of animating which sparked her to take it on full time. Her whole family is artistic and pushed her to it. 


    She wasn't sure if she could get into an animation school in France since it's super expensive and difficult to enter. Instead she decided to go to a video game school and become a concept artist/3D artist. When she got her first job she left. 


    She moved to Ireland specifically to work at Boulder Media on G5.  She originally asked if she could do it from home, but found out it wasn't possible. The call of working on pony convinced her it was worth it! The original plan was 9 months, but it ended up as 3 years.

    Q: How did you manage to hold all of this amazing g5 information from the fandom without exploding?

    A: It was very hard for her. Everyone was tallking about the leaks at the conventions she attended and she couldn't say anything. (Note: we later found out everything about the leaks was changed, so imagine how hard that was!). 

    A lot of people asked her questions she just couldn't answer. 

    Silver Quill notes that Imalou is under an NDA and can't talk about future things, only stuff that has already been created.

    Back when the show was under wraps still, she could say she was working on a major Hasbro project, but absolutely nothing else.

    When the show was finally announced she went crazy with likes for fanart on Twitter and bought herself a plushie of Sunny Skies. She still needs an Izzy if anyone is bored!

    Q: Did the fanart she did of pony help capture Boulder Media's eye? 

    A: Yes. She was setting up her portfolio after BronyCon wondering if she should put My Little Pony stuff in it. In the end she decided it was important, and because of that it was a big reason why she got the job. Apparently a 3D animator there was using her art already for reference on some of their models, and used it as an excuse to convince the director to hire her.

    Q: What advice would she give to young artists to break into the industry? 

    A: Since she's new it's hard to give advice. A lot of it on her side was luck. She says to not be scared of what you are doing, and include things like My Little Pony into your portfolio to show your passion on certain things. Silly subjects just show passion. The industry is big enough that they need passionate artists and there is a place for most of them.

    She's an art workaholic! 

    Silver Quill pulls up her Artstation account to show off some of her awesome wolf drawings.

    She does a ton of speedpainting to practice concept art. The industry requires speed, so it's a good way to prepare. Considering how crazy fast she is, it definitely seems to have helped!

    She had over 1000 drawings created for G5 for an example on how much you will be expected to draw in the industry. 

    Q: Imalou worked on Sunny Starscout and Izzy Moonbow. What was it like when she was making the characters? Do you envision the character in your head or just sketch until something looks good?

    A: Both of these. She talked a lot with colleagues about a vague description she had to work with, collecting references on how it could look from various other things. Basically just a huge brainstorm session. Once everyone was happy with their research, she and her colleague working on Zipp started sketching their designs. 

    For Imalou, she was more comfortable with Sunny and Izzy than Zipp. They worked on their personalities and variations. She used music as inspiration, a lot of remixes of G4 music. The musician JoinedTheHerd in particular. 

    Her sketches helped her figure out the characters. 

    At first they all worked on the full team, but eventually split off and worked on specifics. The only charterer she really didn't do much for was Zipp. 

    Q: Purple eyes, great eyecolor or greatest eyecolor? 

    A: Purple is her favorite color and she loves incorporating it into her character. Izzy's purple eyes in particular. 

    Q: Pinkie Pie is your favorite pony. From what we've seen of Izzy, she seems to have similar energy. Did Pinkie carry forward into her? 

    A: Yeah, a little bit. She can't say much more than that though due to NDA. The fact that she likes Pinkie kinda figures into her characters in general, with the curly hair and happy.


    Q: Izzy and her tennis ball has become a meme! Imalou designs both props and characters. Did she create the tennisball? 

    A: The writers thought of it, so she can't take the credit of this one.

    Q: Imalou typically doesn't like doing armor, how did the armored pegasus in the screencap work? 

    A: Multiple artists worked on it, she finalized it. The concept arts are usually much different from the final piece.

    Q: We know Sunny is optimistic and a little naive. What all did you design, pointing to the buttons and emblems of the mane 6 on her saddlebag? 

    A: She did include the mane 6 stuff, and the directors made the choice to turn her into a fan. Some of the design choices to show her optimism are the orange, warm coat color. This differs from Twilight who is purple, which is more related to magic. Sunny's colors are a bit more natural. 

    Going in,  she really didn't have many details at all, so she was free to do what she wanted for the most part starting off. As they got more information, orange definitely felt right. She has a bit of purple to represent her own protagonist magic. The combination of purple and orange helps bring out her personality. The directors gave it a thumbs up. The reddish pink mane and hooves make her feel more welcoming. Her name was a big influence on the warm colors overall.

    A few people brought up that she relates to the lesbian flag colors, but Imalou had no intention for that. She just wanted the colors to be warm and welcoming.

    Q: Can you walk us through how we went from basic sketch to full 3D Model

    A: It's really complicated. More than 200 people were working on the movie. 

    Pre-production starts it off with descriptions from hasbro

    Then they design them, supervised by the art and animation directors. Making sure it's easy to interpret into 3D. They were the liasons between hasbro and designers.

    Set design is the same deal. With lots of internal debate across months to get it all settled. 

    3D artists work from the beginning just to get the art style right from the other side of the spectrum from her while the animation director supervises them in-tune. 

    On top of all of this are the production managers asking for certain things. 

    Once the character designs were approved, 3D models are finalized with feedback from directors. 

    Once that is complete, riggers come in and add the skeletons. 

    Then the Layout artists set the scenes, using stiff models to move the characters around rather than animate

    After that is completed, the animation happens. 

    Following that, the lighting artists come in, with painters helping set the scenes. 

    And finally, post production. Once everything is essentially finalized and finished, from audio mixing to composition. 

    After that, you have a movie, where the marketing department takes over!

    Q: What about the cell phone design Pipp has? How do you go about designing a hoof-held phone? 


    A: When she was given the task of the phone, she was confused at first but accepted a pony usable phone since it's a kid movie. She wanted to do something simple. More early G4 where the characters are more horsey. More down-to-earth. 

    She wanted to make a design that could actually be used by a pony. The ring hoof ring on the back was the first thing that came to mind so ponies can hold it. She did a lot of concept pages for it.

    We need to go ahead and let our imaginations figure out how a hoof smacking a screen doesn't break it. 

    Q: About the sheet leak with super early art.

    A: It was frustrating since those weren't final designs. The eyecolors for Pipp are different and it wasn't at all what they wanted to reveal. The actual movie reveal was right around the corner and would have been much better as the first look at it. 

    Q: What funny story or experience do you want to share? 

    A: In the beginning she wanted to avoid looking like a huge pony fangirl and was anxious about it. She pretty much instantly broke it, throwing loads of pony figurines up at her desk at work to the surprise of many.

    2 Weeks in they all went out to drink and all of her fellow employees wanted to hear absolutely everything about the brony fandom, completely fascinated at it all. Turns out it was a good thing to show off her pony powerlevel int he end. She pretty much became the go-to pony expert at work, and basically called "Pony Girl" by everyone up til the end. 

    The people at work were surprised at what they'd find when looking it up, particularly the SFM animations.

    Q: Do you prefer English or French version of pony dub for G4? 

    A: She started with English and it's the one she prefers because of that. She also likes the Japanese version, which isn't surprising since we all do!


    Q: Do you know if your co-workers will come to conventions? 

    A: She wants them to come since she loves them so much. A few of them are getting on the pony train, particularly cosplay.

    Q: What was it like when you first got into the fandom? 

    A: She was an eccentric kid. She didn't hide her pony power, bringing it to school and not caring at all. She begged her parents to bring her to pony meetups in Paris and do brony stuff. Everyone was much older than her but she still had tons of fun. She went to the first Galacon and loved it.


    Q: Who was the first pony artist you took note of? 

    A: CrookedTrees and Tsitra were her first favorites. Eventually Assassinmonkey.

    Q: Do you ship the pones? Would you ship the new characters?

    A: She ships Pinkie with Rainbow. It's not canon unfortunately~ As for new characters she can't talk about it due to NDA and them not revealed yet, but there is lots of shipping personally. 

    Q: Pony names and how they came to be.

    A: She had no pull on the names. They were given to her. 

    Q: Were there frustrations with the design process

    A: There weren't any big fustrations, but in her head creating characters that were iconic as the mane 6 was probably the biggest challenge for her personally as a huge pony fan. She looks way up to Lauren Faust and wasn't sure if she could create characters as likable as such an amazing creator. G4 raised the bar so much that getting there is super hard. 

    She wanted to be as good as Lauren and constantly asked herself what she would do in a particular situation.

    Q: What is your opinion on artists already making G5 style ponies? 

    A: She loves it. She can't help but tweet it. Even the critical memes. 

    Q: What alternate design would you do for a goth pony? 

    A: She'd goth up Zipp, or do an 80's aerobic style. 

    Q: Why do G5 Ponies Have More Eyebrows? 

    A: She likes eyebrows and it's easier to show expressions in 3D. Without them it's hard to avoid the uncanny valley in 3D.


    Q: How does she start a character? 

    A: Always the eyes. It's the focus of the character where the expression happens. From there, the shape and silhouette. She likes to have a good silhouette since it's super important. In G5 she wanted to make iconic and interesting manes.