Ok, so out of the blue I’ve been thrown in to the Lion’s Den…(do Lion’s have dens?)…
A group of final years approached me and have asked me to produce some concept art for their final animation. I am completely blown away, and I feel a little intimidated but also excited that they’ve asked me! Apparently Alec told them that I was good at this sort of thing which is only half true… Concept Art? Can’t get enough of it. Robots? …oh jeez..
Usually I struggle with anything mechanical and prefer more organic designs which took this a little outside my comfort zone but I was still willing to give it a shot.
My challenge was to create a robot design that was:
- Humanoid in Appearance
- Able to emote without traditional facial features (eyebrows etc.)
- Appeared like it worked in a factory-type industry.
James Dalton began by showing me an animated short rendered in Unity called ‘Adam’.
It looked awesome; absolutely insane. I loved the design work behind the robots within it. James had said they were focusing on something close to the main robots, which look like this:
So the challenge was to emulate this without blatantly ripping it off, essentially. The team were kind enough to include a few mood boards to point me in the direction they were looking which I will spam here:
From the looks of the mask ideas they were sending me, they were inclined to go without certain key facial features so as to perhaps take away the human feeling of the face while still allowing it to linger. I started throwing together a chassis to house this worker robot just to have a base to work from. Along the way I started fiddling with a head idea. This was the first round of sketches I came up with, the first taking a few minutes and the second a little longer as I played around with design.
While drawing these designs I looked at different sources of machinery and humanoid robotics to understand how it would kind of work “under the hood”. The head design could be used to emote by way of a small triangle that can reposition and project symbols on a screen to show basic mannerisms to portray emotion. A bit of feedback was that the body was too “bodybuilder” and not enough “athlete swimmer” so I slimmed it down slightly as seen above.
I looked at examples of robotic arms so as to understand how the head would move. As for the tarp that covered up this machinery on the neck, I had remembered about a video by Marc Brunet at Cubebrush.com that I watched a few years back and decided to revisit it.
The head design with the emotive screen was inspired by ‘Zer0’ from Borderlands 2, a Japanese assassin who speaks only in Haiku and hides his face behind a hologram projecting helmet.
The team seemed to like the ideas and thought it was going along the right path. James liked the head idea, but felt it was slightly too simple for their story and had suggested I take a more humanoid approach. Professor Maguire later informed me this was due to it being easier to do motion-capture when the design resembled a model.
So with this feedback I went and did a bunch of sketches with different bits of inspiration flaring in every so often. The team had asked that I put more of a focus on the head design as that’s the part the audience would be focusing on. They were pretty happy with the torso so far, so I made a few variations.
With the base design hammered down I was able to duplicate and tweak to come up with a few different ideas for the team:
After getting a few good and bad ideas down I took them back for another round of review. The head shape they were most interested in was the top-right (The most human-shaped) and so I decideed to run with that. I produced an alternate design along the same shape but cleaned it up a little and decided to explore emotion and function. Around this time the team informed me that they had modified their plot so that the robots would now work with partners in the story and so I drew up a partner design that coupled with the original.
I looked at exploring function within the design
So for the first week of term we were asked to research a 3D artist that we liked and for the longest time I sat wondering who I was going to choose. I didn’t want to find someone generic or a huge industry professional, I wanted to find someone who’s work truly had inspired me or made me think “Huh, that’s cool!”. And I found her.
Ally Albon is a 3D generalist and texture artist that I found after I had suddenly remembered an image I caught a glimpse of that really caught my eye. This artist had taken a concept for a fish tank and completely re-imagined it to fit seamlessly in to the Borderlands universe. The reason I loved this piece so much was because of my love for the Borderlands comic-like style and how perfectly Ally had matched it with her re-imagining.
I’ve included the last image shown above as a reference for style from the Borderlands 2 game to show how close the style is.
Ally has captured the essence of Borderlands perfectly and I would not be surprised to see this featured in the game. Upon looking at her other works I found a model she did of two ‘Mudkip’from Pokemon which I like simply because they are Pokemon (stylistically they’re a little off but they’re still cute):
The works I have highlighted here are definitely areas I would wish to further specialise in once I become more comfortable with 3D work. The ability to turn a concept drawing in to a beautiful model is something I look forward to achieving.
Link to Ally’s ArtStation and Website:
So for our third Maya experiment we were allowed to model anything of our choosing. If you read my last Maya post you might remember me saying that if I wanna make something fun I’ll usually try to incorporate Pokemon in it somehow. I was going to try something a little more complicated but I went for the guy above because of his simple shape and that I want to attempt to rig him. I feel like rigging him won’t be as hard as something with a few limbs so I’ll see how that goes when I’m finished modelling him.
I started by downloading the official art of him from Bulbapedia and taking it to Photoshop to create an orthographic turnaround. From there I took each individual plane and created image planes in Maya. This allowed me to get an accurate representation of scale and shape. Previously when attempting this model, I was going about it by creating a flat cylinder and removing the centre vertex…horrible idea. Instead, Becca Blair pointed me in the right direction and whipped up a quick step by step to get from a cube to his body shape.
At this point I was ready to attempt my own, so this was my Exeggutor Body:
Soon after I modelled the tail and made a start on his leafy afro. I made one of the leaves (Seen on far right) and duplicated it with a few transformations to create a variations.
Today I finished the Exeggutor model and set up some lighting to render a few stills. I kept one model in it’s default ‘T-Pose’ for later re-use and duplicated it so I could pose the second one for a more interesting image. I’m fairly happy with the result but will inevitably find more and more wrong with it as I learn Maya; but for now I consider it a success.