So originally when I first came up with the narrative I imagined a little girl, when I proposed the idea to my team they seemed to like it.She allowed for a sweet narrative, with a child like feeling to the whole concept. We wanted the character design to be simple though, so she would be easier to animate, so we would have to cover her limbs as they are the most difficult parts to animate and make it convincing!
We wanted to show reason to why the little girl would possibly want to go to the moon. We thought as part of the animation there could have been a narrator telling a story as if it is a bedtime story about how a mother would always look over her daughter and if the mother was never around the daughter would just have to look into the sky to find her. The idea of this was that the mother had died and the daughter was so desperate to find her that she travelled to the moon hoping she’d be there, but the mother was never up there. (this was not a positive ending) And over the weeks we have been learning that a narrative needs a resolution at the end , to make the audience happy. In certain ways we kind of wanted to not do this as we didn’t want to follow western narrative. We also wanted to do something different and not leave a resolution at the end. Each time we came up with a narrative that didn’t quite resolve things at the end for the audience though, our tutors to not seem to like it, so we decided just to take their advice and try and just make a narrative that followed a western way of storytelling unfortunately.
But as time went on and we got more feedback, we found that the little girl character didn’t have enough narrative behind herself and the more people we spoke to the more we found that people could not relate to her . We needed a character that seemed to show a connection or need to go to the moon. On top of that we needed to decide if we wanted the character to be surreal or real? This would affect the direction of the whole animation, so it was an important thing to cover.
Astronauts and horned characters
Adorable animalistic character
With the character designs I sketched up just to get ideas out I came up with a few surreal ideas first. The one I found the most fun was to create a character that had a moon like feature for a head, to make it look as though maybe the moon was their home, or their mother. The other idea that I developed from Giannis concepts was an astronaut like character, as if the character had always wanted to travel to the moon.
Creating a character with a surreal aspect. We thought that a nice Idea would be to have the character with horns, we thought as the character got closer to the moon and their journey was nearly fulfilled their horns could grow, and twist to signify their emotions growing as they came closer to the moon. It wasn’t vital to the narrative, but a couple of us loved this surreal aspect and it would have been a really fun idea to have develop. It could have created a lovely visual piece, that could have had an underlying reason behind them. Half our team didn’t really like this idea. They thought a more realistic design would be better suited.
After this we talked with our tutor about our characters. He told us that he would find a man more relatable (this is something that some of our team had said), he explained that the way the man could get to the moon would be through strength of pounding the ground with his fists, rather than the magical idea of the little girl touching the ground to make plants grow. To say the truth, I really wanted to get some advice from our female tutor as most of the advice we were getting were from men, so I thought that they would of course find a man more relatable. But I couldn’t find her that day, so we left it and had another group meeting.
Within our group meeting we got to talking about the male character, we thought we could make him really old and with this he became more relatable. With the decision of the character being a very aged person, Gianni then said that he would find an old woman more relatable (or a very young boy) rather than an old man. He changed his mind throughout the weeks as he had previously said from the early weeks that he would prefer and old man. It was nice knowing that a woman was relatable too. But as a team we all decided that we would prefer and old man (I was happy with this choice as it felt more relatable after we talked for a while as it made me think more of my dad) From the character change it gave the narrative a different sense, the narrative then seemed to show the passing of life and showed a different way of how someone was coming to the end of his life. We still wanted a surreal aspect to the character and him to also look like a wise and wisdom filled traveller.
I thought a nice idea for a character design would be to have them as a one stroke brush stroke feel. This would focus more on the 2D style that we wanted to focus on but with a 3D feel. We would have to paint a paint stroke with tick paint and then bring it into maya and make it slightly more 3D. This design connected to japanese style we were talking about as a team, I thought the character could show the ink that japanese art is often known for. As the character aged throughout the sequence the brush stroke could fade and bend over more to show age. I tried out this idea in a digital format and gave the character more limbs rather than him to be floating.
Gianni wanted to begin drawing character designs, and we are glad he did, he drew out loads of characters each with a few different elements that differ from one another. They were original concepts, and it was great that our new character option was first filtering through Gianni as he usually had a different perspective to us. He Drew these concepts with the intent of combining our ideas together and then also his own. They turned out awesome!! These are just a few of them.
From here we then picked out our favourite elements from some characters and we wrote them down so we could develop it from there. He wanted to start a new task as in our team we liked to each get a feel for the different parts of our project, so the team then got me to draw out more characters from here.
I started of drawing the character in the most skeletal manner I could, with the most simplistic design adapted from the drawings we had done so far. I want the character to have a magical feel as we had all discussed, and also for the characters head to perhaps mimic the moon. Just to subtly show his connection to the moon. These were just the bland startup concepts, just to get thing rolling. To draw characters I would first sketch them out in a blocky black shadowy design and then implement detail after that.
Gianni then talked about how the character’s head/the moon didn’t have to look like the real moon, it could perhaps look a little more our own. As we could make anything in our animation our own and original. So I wanted to try some of this out, I did very quick sketches or characters with floating heads that were not perfect spheres as you usually see for the moon.
From this I then went on to draw more complete character designs. My team loved these as they involved backpacks that we had talked about and then also various other elements we had discussed. Most of the team liked the central character the most and also its backpack the most aswell.
Basic sketches, just to show how i start a drawing
when your friends get on your character designs
one character side and back
Because they liked the central character the most I then drew the side and back view of it so as if the team wanted to start practice modelling the basic character design then they could with a little more ease. After this i then tested out a few other designs for this character’s appearance, we thought if we had a very de-saturated set then the character would best stand out if it had shades of read on it. I also tested out Ryans patterns on a couple of the characters. But we liked the desaturated look to the character as well as it made it look more aged.
Ryans Character development from mine. I
I removed the lines from the concept design as some team members found it hard to imagine the concept as a 3D design, and the harsh black lines blocked their ability to imagine it as 3D, once I removed those lines and it gave the characters more of a constant look then they said they were able to imagine the characters more 3D at that point. Which was good (gotta keep the team happy).
The team and I wanted more choice when it came to character design, so when it came to modelling we had more visual influence from our own team if the character needed a little something more after being modelled. So I did some very quick ink ups of more character concepts. Initially we didn’t want to the character to have a face as we thought it would be too difficult to animate and then also it might be hard to model successfully. But I thought we could give a hint more character to the design if we made the character seem like it had a face by just giving it facial hair, like eyebrows and a beard. This could signify age of the character a bit better, and by simply animating the eyebrows in close up shots then this could also help with the emotion of this piece. (this would also allow us to open up more opportunity when it came to camera angles). All we had to keep in mind when designing these components was to keep the hair blocky and stiff looking in design, so when modelled it would look natural to how he was made. This would also allow us to animate him without having to give his beard a rig.
My character designs started to become a little stagnant as it had to hold a simple kind of design that I couldn’t really veer away from from the technical standpoint. So I decided just to do quick funner ones with more anatomy and freedom. Just for fun. One design was the character would mostly be covered by his huge beard and you would only see his limbs if he were to bring them out of his beard, I kind of liked this idea, and I think I would like to model him in my own time in the future and have a go at animating this balloon bearded baldy man. I also thought it might be good to explore a different look to our character rather than sticking with asian as I felt that we could have made a more original design if we took inspiration from various places and time periods. So I drew a design with a slight viking feel.
I then returned to our decided designs and they were lacking. I think I was becoming slightly uninspired, so our character started becoming more egg shaped. I decided to take a break from him and work on other things, and I would returned to him at a later stage.
More character design to come!