- Main article: Animation
Each episode goes through several stages in pre-production: premise, script, dialog recording, and storyboard. The storyboards detail each shot and most of the layout, posing, and camera actions. After storyboarding, backgrounds are created or re-used, and the preliminary staging, composition, and color balancing is refined by the layout department, who ship the layouts to the animation department. After animation and animation revisions, the episode is further refined in post-production. The initial two or three dozens of background ponies were summarily approved by Lauren Faust, intended to fill the background of places populated by ponies.
Background characters are dropped into scenes only in the layout phase, after storyboarding has already finished. From a story standpoint, they are interchangeable and serve the purpose of populating scenes whenever ponies other than the main or supporting characters are needed. Crowd scenes are often filled with multiple copies of the same designs, in crowd scenes in Friendship is Magic, part 1, Friendship is Magic, part 2, The Show Stoppers, Luna Eclipsed, and many more episodes. In The Ticket Master, Boast Busters, Fall Weather Friends, and The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, there is a galloping "mob" of ponies, consisting of Diamond Mint, Berryshine, Shoeshine, Lyra Heartstrings, Lemon Hearts, Daisy, Amethyst Star, and Minuette, and in some shots the entire group is duplicated to increase the number of ponies. They also use colorfill on a lot of ponies, changing the color but leaving the same cutie mark and design.
The design for all characters and their color schemes are subject to approval by Hasbro. The background ponies mostly share two body types–one male and one female-and are generally only differentiated from each other by pony type, mane style, mane color, coat color, eye color, and cutie mark. There are hundreds of different ponies whose color schemes or designs are distinct from each other even though they share the same design, although some of the background ponies are used more frequently than others, such as Lyra Heartstrings and Sweetie Drops. These two ponies are used by a layout artist for added visual gags.
Recurring background ponies
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Among all of the background ponies that are used in the show, there are twenty-two mares that are used consistently in Ponyville, and as a result are the most commonly seen in the series. They typically occupy crowd scenes and react to actions performed by the main cast, or, on rarer occasions, even interact with them. These twenty-two characters consist of six Earth ponies, six Unicorn ponies, and ten Pegasus ponies, each one sharing her design with at least one other. Their names as given by the show, merchandise, or currently held with a placeholder, are as follows:
|Background Ponies||Similar Design|
|Earth Ponies||Berryshine||Cherry Berry|
|Pegasus Ponies||Derpy||Sunshower Raindrops|
|Cloud Kicker||Merry May|
|White Lightning||Sprinkle Medley|
|Unicorn Ponies||Twinkleshine||Lemon Hearts|
|Lyra Heartstrings||Amethyst Star|
Other recurring background ponies include Rose, Lily Valley, "Candy Mane", Lyrica Lilac, Royal Ribbon, and an assortment of male ponies, but they are absent from the list due to a relative lack of appearances and/or an offset of shared designs.
Some of the background humans were based on background ponies, such as Lyra Heartstrings and Sweetie Drops, but none of these humans are among the students who appear in the first film My Little Pony Equestria Girls.
- ↑ Timeline Photos. Facebook (2013-04-28). Retrieved on 2013 April 28.
- ↑ HubTVNetwork: Choose which background pony.... Twitter (2013-04-28). Retrieved on 2013 April 28.
- ↑ Jayson Thiessen interview, answer about layout department, 2011-09-14
- ↑ PonyCon 2016 Character Development Panel with Lauren Faust. YouTube (2016-02-18). Retrieved on 2016 March 12.
- ↑ Layout artist on the role of layout artists, 2011-04-05
- ↑ Layout artist discussing the role of Derpy in season two, 2011-05-08
- ↑ Layout artist discussing the show's approval process, 2011-05-09
- ↑ Layout artist "Nayuki" describing his use of "Lyra" and "Bon Bon" for background gags.
- ↑ Rebecca Dart (2014-08-09). Rebecca Dart on Twitter: "@OttoWorld I think some were.". Twitter. Retrieved on 2014 December 31.
- ↑ Equestria Girls - The Allspark Forums (2013-06-27). Retrieved on 2013 June 28. Archived locally.