Howl's Moving Castle
A lot of people say Spirited Away is their favorite Studio Ghibli film, but mine is Howl’s Moving Castle. I love this movie because of Sophie’s character. I find many of her traits admirable. She is hard working, considerate, compassionate, insightful, wise, appreciates the little things in life that most take for granted. She is patient, kind, sees the potential in people and doesn’t give up on them. I also love it when she is sassy in her older form.
Her real beauty is within. In the beginning, she doesn’t know it exists, but as her character develops throughout the film, she recognizes her strengths, and in the end, her outer beauty begins to shine as bright as her inner beauty.
The first sketch played with the idea of Howl's head emerging from the castle as it fell apart. Howl, even in creature form, is an attractive character so this look didn't appeal to me as the form looks strange, bulbous. It's also difficult to tell that it's Howl.
Smoke is always emanating from the castle, so I played with the concept of Howl emerging from the castle as a cloud of smoke and then juxtaposing Sophie in the ground with her face forming from rock formations. The two elements also reflect qualities of the characters. Howl is always about freedom and fancy, while Sophie is grounded and humble. Her disposition is more resolute and Howl's is more whimsical.
I wanted the composition to feel more interesting. This was just exploring that idea to see if it made the design stronger. However, I was still struggling with Sophie's face getting lost in the ground so I dropped the concept.
I selected this as the final design, retaining elements that I liked the most from the previous versions. I added more smoke and destruction to the castle along with Sophie and Calcifer waiting calmly on the hillside. I wanted the rock formations to point subtly towards them and draw the viewers eyes since they may blend into the background.