The Legend of Klaus has already made history by becoming the first animated feature film on Netflix, but it has also revolutionized 2D animation with its incredible technique. Do you want to know how the film looks like that? Here we tell you!

On November 15, The Legend of Klaus, Netflix’s first animated film, was released . This Christmas tale reinvents the myth of Santa Claus and the origin of the exchange of gifts, winning the hearts of audiences and critics along the way with its mix of humor and endearing moments. But not only that, at a time when almost all the two great feature films are made in CGI animation, The Legend of Klaus has been a real revolution for the field of traditional 2D animation.

Although The Legend of Klaus seems to be done “in 3D” like Toy Story 4 or Frozen 2, it is actually hand-drawn with a traditional technique and spectacular post-production work. The SPA Studios , an animation studio located in Madrid, is responsible for making this film, and according to what the director Sergio Pablos himself has commented, this unique style was born from the desire to overcome the current limitations of traditional animation , adding a new type of organic and natural lighting.the-legend-of-klaus-revolutionizes.jpgTo do this, Pablos (who worked as an animator on Hercules or Tarzan for Disney), sought the help of different developers until he finally found what he needed from  Marcin Jakubowski , who was then one of his conceptual artists. Jakubowski did several tests with drawings and plans and getting them to look like computer modeling by playing with different lighting points. After these small successes and with the help of the French studio  Les Films Du Poisson Rouge , The SPA Studio managed to develop a new process that would become key to the production of The Legend of Klaus and its characteristic visual style.

In order to give this finish to the entire film, and not just individual shots, the entire production was developed digitally with Toon Boon Harmony , one of the favorite software for cartoon production, from the storyboard phase to inking and color. For The Legend of Klaus , 2D and 3D animation was also combined, the latter especially for certain elements or scenarios that required more camera movement, but the finish is so exact that they can hardly be differentiated.

The animation of the Netflix film is drawn by hand, reaching more than a million drawings for its 1,530 shots, in the purest style of the classic animated films with which we grew up. The SPA Studios team is made up of artists from 22 different countries, who have drawn each frame and with a team in charge of cleaning each one of them and doing the intermediate drawings to achieve a smooth and perfect animation.the-legend-of-klaus-2d.jpgThen the lines would be colored and the frame would be painted, adding the background that has already been done separately. With colorization, the lines almost completely disappear, leaving only the information needed to understand the movements and composition. This method allows you to give a more realistic finish to the frame once the highlights and shadows are added. In this video you can see a little better the treatment process of a small plane to better understand what we are talking about, from the first storyboard to the final composition.

Part of the post-production process for The Legend of Klaus involves a perfect mastery of lighting, using up to eight different layers of light so that it would have the most natural finish possible, with specific lighting for ambient light or for the reflection in the characters’ eyes, for example. After applying the lighting to each frame, the texturing would proceed, with which that subtle graining is given that makes the shapes have a little more body to each part of the character and would better integrate it with the background to avoid it being simply a flat doll on a stage full of volume.the-legend-of-klaus-netflix.jpgThis process may seem very simple, but let us remember that we are counting on thousands and thousands of drawings that must be treated individually, first to form each shot and then the complete film, so it is not surprising that it has taken so many years to finish its production (the first teaser was revealed way back in 2015!). Of course, The Legend of Klaus has amply demonstrated that traditional 2D animation is still alive, and very much so, and that it still has a lot of potential ahead of it.