Passion Pictures produces a hand-painted Paddington Bear for Barbour’s animated Christmas film

The clothing brand released the film last night, signalling that Christmas advert season is well underway – we did warn you…

5 November 2021


Passion Pictures has partnered with the director trio, Againstallodds, to bring together Barbour jackets and Paddington Bear: it doesn’t get more English than this. The film features a hand-drawn Paddington as he puzzles over what to get Mr Brown for Christmas to thank him for looking after Paddington. In a pleasant twist, Paddington focuses on rewaxing an old coat instead of buying a new one, in true sustainability-driven fashion.

Kevin Grady at Againstallodds says that “storytelling plays an important role in the work we do and this project was no different.” Since the majority of its animation work tends to be CG-based, Againstallodds is always on the lookout for more traditionally-produced 2D projects. “Hand-drawn animation is actually where our roots are based and we have lots of experience there.” Harking back to the good ol’ days of animation, the animators had to mimic and remain faithful to Peggy Fortnum’s established illustration style of Paddington Bear.

When beginning the process, the most obvious starting point, says Grady, was researching Fortnum’s work. “We all had a basic idea of what that style was, but to be accurate, we needed to have a closer look at the source material by delving through the archives and extracting as many examples of her work as possible – especially her drawings directly associated with Paddington.” According to the creative director, even Fortnum’s most simple sketches are very expressive, so the studio wanted to try to retain this. “Overall, it was a case of trying to mimic everything about it from the line strokes and stylings of the shapes, to the level of detail.”

The animation was an exercise in adapting the original illustration for animation, whilst trying to “capture the energy of Peggy’s drawings, which had a very easy, spontaneous look to them,” says Grady. Carrying these illustrations over into animation was “tricky because we were trying to maintain this feeling of spontaneity whilst working through the methodical process of carefully re-drawing the same lines over and over again.” Because the team had to stay so true to the original style, there was a limit to the amount of creative freedom they were afforded, but they were allowed “a certain amount of creative input in developing and adding to it.”

The animation team considered a few different ideas for their final illustrative look, like applying a paper texture to the whole image, or a vignette around the edge of the frame for an illustration that feels like it was lifted directly from the page of a book. “But ultimately, we settled on just a simple ink line and watercolour treatment. Peggy never actually coloured in her own drawings, but the watercolour treatment is still regarded as definitive and, of course, Paddington’s blue duffle coat and red hat are iconic and were the final element that really nailed the look.”

Around 3,000 hours of work went into the making of this film. Grady explains the painstaking process of hand drawing every frame of the film: “The backgrounds were painted in Photoshop and we animated in TV Paint. The film was assembled in After Effects, where all the compositing – including the development of the watercolour style by applying watercolour textures to painted fills – was done.”

GalleryAgainstallodds: Please Look After This Bear (Copyright © Barbour, 2021)

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Againstallodds: Please Look After This Bear (Copyright © Barbour, 2021)

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

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