All Images ©Sony Pictures Animation.
Designing Surf's Up's "North" beach where Big Z lives was one of earliest tasks I had to undertake in the film and evolved through different designs. Here are some of them. Above is the approved sequence illustration for the "feel" on how Cody sees the place for the very first time. Cody character on the foreground was done by Sylvain DeBoissy.
Here's one of my favorite shots in the film. I designed the extreme down shot from Cody's POV on the cliff before he went down to the beach.
Now this one is the earliest aerial shot I did in order to map out the beach based from different story beats. The tall waterfalls on the left was supposed to be a sacred pond where Cody has to do his "karate kid" moment with Big Z and climbs to the top. Also if you notice right on the middle is a bluff where big Z does his beach chanting and be "one" with the waves. On top of a hill are two openings on the ground with smoke coming out which are the lava tube entrances. Towards the right is the main beach where Big Z's house (the huge banyan tree) and boardshack (bent palm) are located. Lastly, at the very tip of the island on the right is a surfboard shaped rock where Big Z is supposed to reveal himself to Cody.
Above are very early design explorations for his beach. Notice Big Z's pad and boardshack on the first two images. The third one are thumbnails to find the right shapes.
These last five images are the final approved design for the beach. Notice the sacred pond is still there. It was taken out later in production. Last two are elevations showing how rocks at the north shore used to form one huge monolith and eroded through the years. Enjoy.