View the first of 15 concept artwork for this year's Academy Award nominees for Best Animated Short Film (Exclusive).

Voting for Academy Award nominations begins Thursday, but before our members cast their ballots, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a very unpredictable animated short film race.

We asked the makers of the 15 nominated animated shorts to send us their first films and describe what inspired the look of their work.

Below are the replies in alphabetical order.

Directors Gabriel Augerai, Romain Augier, Charles Di Cicco, Yannick Jacquin, and Laurie Pereira de Figueiredo

These drawings were Romain's first attempt to present his ideas to the education team This drawing is the first one that Romain drew to present his ideas to the education team. We were already working toward a realistic 3D rendering, so this drawing was more about showing the story than the look. The initial idea was to mix comedy with a big-budget disaster movie by placing silly characters in a chaotic environment and overwhelming them.

Directed by Preit Tender

I created most of the sketches from a collage of photographs using Soviet-era indoor, outdoor, and rural scenes. I found collage more effective than drawing in building the world of the film. It allowed me to communicate my vision to the set designer, puppeteer, and DOP (director of photography).

Directors Lucija Mrzljak, Morten Tsinakov

Basically just character design for Iva and various male characters. It took a long time and many sketches before we finally found the right faces. After that, I was able to build the rest of the film's world, find the color scheme, draw the backgrounds, and create the overall atmosphere. While drawing the characters, I think somewhere in my head I was thinking of Modigliani's character with the elongated face and dark eyes.

Director Rita Basulto

The aesthetic proposal for Humo was initially inspired by the beautiful illustrations of picture books, but since it is a story told by a child, it had to be intentionally innocent and reflect reality, childlike but poetic and simple. War and grief, in contrast to the harshness of Chiaroscuro's charcoal in these three-dimensional drawings, washed color into our world like a delicate watercolor, evoking the German Expressionism of the painter Käthe Kollwitz and the power of the war images reflected in her vignettes.

Directed by John Musker

This little thumbnail study, drawn over my very rough, scribbled narrative sketch, is by the great Italian artist Claudio Acciari. I liked several elements of this work, which became the hallmark of the visual approach of my short story "I'm Hip". These include the vivid but limited color palette, the strong value structure, and the combination of linear elements and flat textures that do not necessarily match the lines of form in BG.

Director Stephen Vuillemin

I first drew this picture and this diagram. Of all the people I showed this diagram to, no one understood the concept of the film: ...... I think I was making it look much more complicated than it actually was.

Director Tal Kantor

I was looking for a visual language that could express the fragility and complexity of human emotion while evoking an elusive broken memory, a sense of the fragmented and imperfect. I aimed to create a collage that blends the vivid realist details of reality with the dynamic world of memory and dreams.

Director Coy, the central figure, is our top priority, and his design is the glue that holds all the different visual styles together. Jerusha had a very specific character in mind and found a reference photo in Daniel Brunson, who provided us with a large number of sketches and eventually this first finished concept. All five other animation teams used Daniel's final design as a reference to create his own unique taste.

Director The inspiration for Once Upon a Studio was films such as Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? We felt that having animated characters living in the halls of our studio was a fun and magical way to celebrate the centennial, the artists, and the art of animation itself.

Director Yegane Moghaddam

The main visual inspiration for the initial concept came from actual photographs taken from several young school children. As they stood next to each other, I couldn't help but notice how they all blended into one big monochrome mass of color. So I tried to use blocks of paint to represent the characters without a lot of detail.

Director Stephanie Kleman

My initial concept for the film was intuitive, starting with watercolor chalk and colored pencil sketches. I was looking for a dreamlike image that was both melancholy and soothing. The influence of the Impressionist movement and its aftermath, the supple lines of Van Gogh, and the palette of Monet's "Nymphia" (Water Lilies) can be seen.

Directed by Brett Parker

This is an early exploration by Tia Clutter, translating our characters into ink and watercolor illustrations by E.H. Shepard, and later by Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes were the inspiration for the watercolor paintings.

Director Flora Anna Buda

This is Alice on her bicycle just before she falls. During the process of painting, I was thinking that if I did not include the character's entire body in the composition, I could create a cinematic experience in which the audience is lured into the scene, surrounded by the tilted city horizon. I wanted to tell a story that was dynamic and seemed to set itself in motion with this stable image. I felt a true catharsis while drawing, which inspired the entire story of "27"

: Max Narciso's character designs combined with Zach Letts' color styling to create the look of the film. We wanted Max's caricatures and compositions to be inspired by Norman Rockwell's WWII paintings, and we asked Zach to look closely at J.C. Leyendecker's color palette as a springboard for our production design. We thought a lot about John and Yoko's song and its message and wanted to portray that in everything from casting to costumes. This film was not about one war, but about all wars, and the design had to reflect a war that looked familiar but was not a specific conflict.

Directors Karni Arieli and Saul Fried

In Wild Sammon, the original concept of portraying salmon as humans came to me one day. Creating a fish in human form reminds us that we humans are one with nature, but it raises complex design questions: will the salmon be naked, will it have scales, will it have a red color, will it breathe through its gills? ...... Strong inspiration came from the amazing pearl divers and free-diver women in Korea and Japan. The wetsuits, goggles, and flippers gave us the postmodern, intricate look we were looking for. It blended well with our style of "casual fantasy."