The SCS presents the ninth in a continuing series of looks at the pre-production art of the World of Springfield line thanks to Chris Lauria, who does most of the playset art for Playmates Toys. This time around we have images from the making of the exclusive THOH3: Ironic Punishments Division set. Here's Chris to give you the needed info on this artwork:

Hello Simpsons collectors!

I thought since we were approaching Halloween, and the THOH4 set was shipping, what better way to get the 'collecting juices' flowing then to take a look at the "Tree House of Horror 3" playset design art.

This set gave me a few challenges (more on that in a second) but it was a lot of fun to work on.

Playmates already had an idea that they wanted to use the "Homer in Hell" scene for a backdrop.  They also wanted "Donut Head Homer" and "Witch Marge" from the start.  The rest of character line-up changed after I had finished the set.  (I'm not sure if it was public knowledge what the original line-up was so I am not mentioning it here - sorry :)

Playmates had sent me a bunch of screen grabs to use as reference, and we talked about elements we wanted to include before I got started (conveyor belt, stalagtites etc.).

Rough Controls - This was the first rough concept I did based on the reference and direction.  They liked it a lot, and only had some minor changes.  We added a complete back wall, and made the Demon larger.  They also asked me to add the "Ironic Punishment" door.  It originally read "Hell Labs  Ironic Punishment Division", but they asked me to remove "Hell Labs"  - (probably due to the possible reaction from overly sensitive consumers)  The 'drop chute' was also removed (probably due to cost).  I was a little disappointed with that change because I thought it added a neat touch - it would have seemed that it was 'magically' hanging in the air because it would have been molded to the 'cogs' behind it.  Oh well, it would probably have snapped off anyway.

B&W Base Art - Here is the clean black and white art for the base, with the changes I mentioned.  This is the art that I scanned and "Streamlined" to use for the color board.

Figures Color Comparison- This image shows the revised figure line-up and their size relationship to one another.  The stripes on Willie's shirt were removed due to possible copyright infringement.

Color Sketch - The color board!  I really enjoyed this one.  It seemed to come together real well.  I probably spent more time then usual rendering it, but I didn't mind.  Once again - this was originally put together with the first figure line-up.  When the line-up was changed, I went back and dropped in the new figures.  Since I never had any of these characters in the style guide, they were drawn up from the screen grabs, scanned, rendered, and dropped in.

Rough Views - I did these rough views by hand initially.  At this time during the development of the Simpson playsets, I was generating the controls in Illustrator (great for working on geometric pieces).  This set, however, contained a very organic environment with mechanical elements.  I wasn't sure how to handle it.  To make matters more tricky, I angled the 'conveyor belt' piece to keep the set from being to "grid-like".  When I went to finished views, I thought I could do the entire thing in Illustrator.  I actually did most of it on the computer at first.  This took forever!  When I realized that it was taking waaayyyy too long, I decided to create the base and back wall by hand, and the conveyor belt in Illustrator.

Multiple Views  - The base and back wall you see in the finished views were drawn by hand, scanned, converted in Streamline, and dropped into the Illustrator file.  The conveyor belt was created in Illustrator from flat views.  I used KPT Vector Effects to create the 3-D, angled views for the finished drawings.  In hindsight, I could have just shown the conveyor belt in 'straight views' and simply indicated where it would be located in the top view with a dotted outline (much easier way to do it).  Oh well, live and learn.

I had spent quite a bit if time on the "Rock slide" (seen in the episode) but apparently it took up too much space, so it was dropped.  Keep in mind that this set was originally designed with a different group of figures - and those figures were smaller then what we ended up with (hence the limited floor space and why the "Rock Slide" was removed).  The detail views (on the cogs and the goblin) let you see some of the finer line work on the control drawings.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the set, but I never got a production sample so I don't really know what it looks like up close (it was a mix up during a transition period -  long story...)  I am hoping to hunt one down without spending too much so I can add it to my personal job archives.

I learned a lot on this project - mostly by trail and error, and I have been able to apply some of that to the sets that followed.  I hope everyone liked the set - let me know what you think (good or bad)!  Post you comments on the "Playset Design Process Pt. II Q/A" board.  See you there!


Thanks to Chris and Playmates again!

Rough Controls

THOH 3 Rough Controls

First rough concept art

B&W Base Art

THOH 3 BW Base

Black and white art for the base

Figures Color Comparison

THOH 3 Figures Color

Revised figure line-up and their size relationship to one another

Color Sketch

THOH 3 - Color Sketch

Rough Views

THOH 3 Rough Views

Multiple Views

THOH 3 Multiple Views

Finished views of the set

Detailed Views

THOH 3 Cog Detail THOH 3 Goblin Detail

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