Color wasn’t the only consideration for production designer Rona Liu and director Domee Shi when they were developing the look of Disney Pixar’s “Turning Red,” available on Disney Plus March 11. They also wanted “chunky cute.”

That meant building everything to look bigger and rounder for the coming-of-age story of a middle school girl, Mei, voiced by Rosalie Chiang, who transforms into a giant red panda each time she feels anxiety or gets angry, as she navigates between being a free-spirited teen with her posse of best friends and an obedient, all-A student for her mom.

Liu says it was Shi who wanted to use the idea of a red panda, an animal native to Asia that has not been widely portrayed in media. “They’re reclusive and sleep all day,” says Liu. “As Domee and the team were working on the story, we all thought, ‘Wait, that describes a teenager going through one of their phases, and so it was perfect.”

There were numerous design iterations for red panda Mei; the key was to highlight that this was Mei out of her comfort zone. “She’s chunky, has a big belly; she’s messy and smells,” says Liu. “We wanted her hair to be clumpy and matted.” Liu looked at alpaca hair, which, despite being soft, she says, is “grimy” and “sticks together.”

The character’s color was vital, Liu explains. Red panda Mei’s orange-red shade made it pop in every scene —from the blue of the ancestral temple in the family’s home to the green of Mei’s bedroom.

“Chunky” and “cute” were also watchwords for the design of the movie’s version of Toronto, where the film is set. Liu and the animators made three-story buildings instead of five-. They reduced staircases to seven steps instead of 10.

Inspiration for Mei’s bedroom came from both Shi’s and Liu’s own as teenagers. “We looked at what our own rooms looked like, with a stack of CDs, Sanrio stuffed animals and posters,” Liu says.  However, since Mei lives at home, other touches reflected her devoted mom, Ming Lee, voiced by Sandra Oh. That meant, on the surface, things were still very organized. Even the Sanrio animals were arranged in size order. “The room has Ming’s controlling sensibilities,” Liu notes. However, under the bed was Mei’s haven. “We lit that in this red-pink light to show that she’s going into her own world, and her teenage fever feelings come out.”

To counterpoint the home, decorated in shades of green, pink and ochre, her middle school had splashes of color incorporated in posters, particularly in Mei’s science and math clubs. Liu says this is where the production came alive: “It’s a place where she can be free and with her friends, so we wanted a wide range of colors.” For instance, her bestie Miriam, voiced by Ava Morse, had green and yellow attached to her palette, reflecting the freedom Mei feels around her friends. In contrast, her mom’s green had more subdued blue tones, subtly reflecting Mei being pulled in different directions — as a dutiful daughter and the self-identity of Western culture.

In true Pixar style, “Turning Red” is also filled with Easter eggs. Liu points to the family temple as one audiences should pay attention to. “Everything about that is panda driven,” she says. “There are pandas if you look at the altar. The wood carving of the temple is two pandas in a tree. The offering table [at the altar] has pandas engraved — it shows a little girl turning into a panda.”

And yes, the main Easter Eggs including the Luxo ball, the famous A113 easter egg. Pronounced A1-13, A113 refers to the classroom number used by character animation students at California Institute of the Arts, and a new “Lightyear” easter egg – on a skateboard.