Thursday, March 28, 2013

Invented Domicile: Mayor Shelbourne

One of our most recent assignments was inventing a room for a pre-existing character: I chose the Mayor from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs!

I wanted mine to look like it belonged from the original source material and it wasn't until halfway through that I realized that the character in particular was really tough to crack design-wise.  Overall, he's a conflicted antagonist within a dull, boring town that's still set in a fun, light-hearted comedic film, so there's a lot of those juxtapositions that made communicating the lighting and color scheme a struggle (also, colors had to be analogous).

The first image is the final and the second is just some of the process work.  At first, I intended to render and sculpt values out and play up the antagonistic side of the character with low key lighting.  However, it started looking way too menacing, alien, and scary for both establishing Swallow Falls (the town in the film) and for this petty of a character.  It wasn't until later in the game that finally had the idea to research the film's original artwork and saw that a lot of it was very flat, graphic, and took inspiration from Miroslav Sasek and The Muppets.  This also required a lot of work with the lasso tool, which I haven't worked with much until this point.

As always, things can definitely be improved, but I'm happy with what I was able to come up with and am ready to move on to the next project.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jones Progress 2: Character Design

Last week I pitched my Gorilla character from the previous post and realized a few things about his character weren't visually reading based on my intentions of the character.  Here is the final version of Jones: draftsmanship is sort of rough since I need to move on for time's sake, but I'll breakdown the rough passes that lead to the final result.

Final Pass
Intention / Story: "Jones is an urban child gorilla who grew up on 'the block.'  He attends an elementary school with other animals and is the school tough guy, the bully, and is often close-minded.  But, like all bullies, he is secretly insecure.  He loves basketball, his favorite pastime, and is talented at it for his age.  However, he will not hesitate to showoff his skills and rub it in your face."

Original Pass - Balls on head
The balls on his head and cheeks were supposed to be tufts of hair in its most simplest and manageable form for animation, but instead were looking like an Aztec headdress and earrings.  Sweatbands weren't readable, either.  Notable notes of feedback were to  make him more colorful/obnoxoius/add more swag since he's an arrogant, "in your face" character.  Nothing else about his overall figure was really reading "basketball" player either.

Reference - Harlem Globetrotters were the first thing I thought of when I hear "basketball" and "showy"
Made sweatbands bolder, gave them distinguishable color, and made the spheres more organic to look more like tufts of hair.  He looks more like an athlete now, but still not specific enough to basketball.

Note: He's an NBA wannabe, so who else other for him to imitate than Michael Jordan?

 Shoes were a tough choice since the crew on Tarzan mentioned that gorilla feet are just as dexterous as his hands, which opened a lot of unique animation opportunities with him playing basketball.  But, I went with the shoes since, from a character design standpoint, they really help to sell him as both urban and as a basketball player since the two groups are very fixated on them from both from an equipment and fashion standpoint.  To add on, I also tried moving one of his sweatbands closer to his elbows, but removing one of them was a step backwards since it threw him visually off-balance.

There really wasn't anything about Jones that associated him with being urban either and it was another challenge to communicate that aspect without making him look stereotypical.  I thought back to the days when I lived in the south side of Chicago and remembered bandanas being popular at one point with some of my cousins. I wanted to accentuate that side of him and add some asymmetrical interest, so one of the bandana ends was exaggerated but was starting to look too much like an ear.  Desaturated the sweatbands and shoes to match the coolness of his character and the city he lives in.

Enter Tupac
Fixed that bandana ear problem by making the bandana smaller and a little more subtle / Tupac-ish.  

Finalized with some notes from Mike Yates - applied more straights against curves, contours, triangulating the tufts on the cheeks, and made padding ont the chest like other gorillas.  Got a few notes on making the snout protrude more like a gorilla's, but liked it better flat because everything else about his body/shape felt like it communicated gorilla, so it felt ok to take the liberty in favor for a more unique look and appeal.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Junior & Jones: TurnArounds

TurnArounds for invented characters in Traditional Animation and 3D class.

On a side note, I watched Porco Rosso for the first time yesterday and Porco explained that what makes a great pilot isn't so much experience, but intuition.  I compare this to drawing and realized that I tend to think too much; I've had my fair share of nasty wake-up calls in regards to art, but it's still necessary to have more confidence in my own intuition in order to get better.