Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Character- possible final story idea?

So I sat and had a bit of a brainstorming bouncing ideas session with Samantha the other day about this project. I developed on the hybrid idea I last posted about. And now with a heck of a lot of evolution (pun intended) I feel like I’m heading somewhere!

On an island city, a genetics project is being pioneered- one in which human and animal traits are combined to create a new hybrid being- A life form with the best of both worlds. In amongst the testing, inexplicable events take place and shortly after, an unknown virus begins to spread outside the facility- killing people in a matter of weeks. The virus is quarantined on the island but trapping the inhabitants with the aggressive and fatal illness. The remaining scientists at the medical facility that survived the outbreak did their best to come up with vaccines for survivors. And when those didn't work, resorted to their most recent research into hybridisation to save themselves. Meanwhile the outside world fell prey to the virus anyway, only leaving behind those who were successfully genetically modified with animal traits. Whether they be Mammalian, Reptile or Aquatic.

Three generations of hybrids later, the human race is completely extinct and those on the island remain trapped there trying to survive on the basics and combating problems with their mutations and emerging societies and criminal underworlds.

So here we have the individual stories of my three characters....

The Hero-
A young medium class hybrid, with the traits of a Rabbit and a Wolf is paving his way in life by stealing items for the highest bidder in order to survive. One particular job changes his life when it is tasked to him by one of the right hand men of the overlord gang leader of the island. 

The hero is ordered to steal a file from a far removed inventor and engineer in return for a high level modification that would mean no one would dare cross him and he would live a long life. In doing so however the inventor is accidentally killed. In trying to save the life of the completely helpless hybrid he finds out the true value of the file he has stolen. It contains the details as to the genetics project and a list of names of who was involved and also clues as to the extinction of the human race and the evolution of current society. It completely incriminates the current Villain and his highest advisers as instigators of the genocide that nearly wiped sentient life from the face of the earth.

The Sidekick-
He is a rather juvenile lower class hybrid, with the traits of a Gecko and Chimpanzee. Though from the exterior he looks like a lower intelligence life form his mind is very evolved but yet he quite simply survives before he meets the hero and they form an alliance. He is a stealthy creature with sticky pads on his hands and feet allowing him to walk on shiny surfaces such as glass and even hang from them. Being built like a chimp his climbing skills are unparalleled He is incredibly dexterous and intelligent enough to plan out diversions and use tools to help his hero buddy when they're on a particularly tricky job.

The Villain-
Once a downtrodden scientist on the hybridization project who was quite frankly a genius. But he had issues with the distribution of power in society and control. Realizing the potential in the genetics project he put events in motion. Lacing his own body with the traits of a tortoise developing a slowed aging rate and also armor plating, he collected various resources that would sustain life such as medicinal supplies, vaccines, power generators and the like. Finally he executed the last part of his plan releasing a thoroughly aggressive illness into the world, knowing a pocket of the race would survive long enough to evolve with him. And that from that point onward he could rule over the new race. With his slowed aging and other mutants dying younger (such as those with the traits of the rabbit) evolution was fast and it allowed him to rewrite history and paint himself as the savior of the islanders. Their only hope of survival....

Right well that's the gang! As I mentally picture them so far and below are a few random sketches. The furry guys were vague hero experiments and the warthog guy could easily be a villains henchman... well possibly.

Anyway... working progress!!!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Character- Story idea's

You'd think a post apocalyptic scene would be easy to write a story about, but I'm feeling somewhat daunted by the enormity of figuring out a story for this place. And with animal characters and crime as my theme I am struggling a little. Below however are some rambling ideas that have sprung out since the brief and a quick chat with Justin.

What kind of world is this, where animals are top of the food chain?  Is this another universe?
.... Possibly.

If I am to create another universe I would have to really work on the environment idea. However this could be a parallel universe in which humans may never have evolved...

Here are a couple of ideas that I have had so far.

The sickness- In a world that has been devastated by famine, a second wave of ill health is only being staved off by the monopolising villain. An enemy who has stashed all the medication he and his henchmen can find and using it as a bargaining tool to get anything he wants. Buying the loyalty of bodyguards and supporters, he rules all the gangs. The hero sets about robbing the villain of his medicinal supplies and turning his security against him, with the help of an ex-pharmacist sidekick who, as his best, friend bandages up our hero whenever he gets into a scuffle.

Hybridization- A distant future of earth see's humans inexplicably dying out, so in true 'adapt-or-die' style, science and medicine turn to evolution in order to survive. Scientists graft in the characteristics of animals into human subjects. Creating a sort of human race 2.0 eventually. And with each generation created they become more intelligent and more evolved than the last. Until many years down the line after humans have finally died out. All that are left are human/animal hybrids. The humans died out so fast that the various generations of hybrids are too young to remember what their scientist forefathers tried to teach them about the world they were being born into.

well its a working progress... I'm sure I'll think of something better formed soon.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Character Design- Shapes

So the last character session was all about shapes. How they unconsciously inform a viewer as to the persuasions of characters. Shapes each have their own connotations. Round and circular shapes make for cuddly, safe and friendly personalities. Squares, they're strong, stable and safe. Whereas finally triangles are sharp, dangerous and harmful. With these shapes in mind we were given various characters to draw, deducing the shapes they were constructed from, then changing those shapes to create a new feel to them.

I received a stylized hulk that couldn't have been more obvious. As soon as I got drawing I began to understand how shapes changed everything...

Continuing a similar exercise as before, we were encouraged to take characters we'd brought along as inspiration and replicate them using more or less complicated shapes. Whilst trying to lose as little personality as possible. Below I have 2 characters, the robot is known as B.E.N, he features in Disney animation Treasure Planet. Meanwhile the lady on the right is Anita Knight, who is from a children's programme entitled 'The Secret Show'

Narrative Review- Archetypes and Heroes Journey

Monday, 14 October 2013

Narrative and Character- Meet Grumpy Moose

It suddenly struck me I haven't linked to the studio project on which I am currently working for our Narrative unit. So please find below the link-up to Grumpy Moose productions!

Character Design- The Briefing

So this term we are expected to create a series of characters. A Hero, A villain and a sidekick with the guidance of illustrator Justin Wyatt. Now I really like this aspect of design, so I was really excited for our session, especially to find out the subjects upon which to build our characters. With a pack of cards in hand and a guide on screen Justin shuffled and dealt out our subjects. Mine are as follows.

Creature: Animals
Genre: Post Apocalypse
Theme: Crime

... its just brilliant! There are a myriad of sources i can exploit with regards to post apocalyptic environments. Of course everyone keeps screaming at me 'Fallout'. Which is no bad place to start. As for animals I can take any angle I like, from anthropomorphised animals, to realistic ones to mutants I guess! And the idea of Crime in a post apocalyptic world, they just go hand in hand!

So of course from this point I need to start asking and answering questions, slowly build up a story, a universe in which these characters reside.

What caused the apocalypse?
What sort of crimes would be committed in such a world?
What sort of situations are driving the characters to commit such crimes?
What creatures might survive an apocalypse?

Once I figure out a scene I might also be able to answer a few more questions such as what is my hero's purpose in this world. What is his/her quest?

Either way no sooner had I been given my subjects my mind was ablaze with questions to be answered and themes to investigate. But on with the session we were introduced to Mash-ups. Once more armed with his cards Justin dealt us a pair of contrasting characteristics to mash together and start creating characters. I was given Arabian Fairy. 

Now of course my first thoughts are of Aladdin and Tinkerbell. but I didn't want a character that was too flouncy so my first sketch is what essentially looks like a wiry Arabian warrior armed to the teeth. I then went in completely the opposite direction drawing and elven eared female. Finding my feet I tried to figure out what this character was like...
Severe, Tiny, Lithe, Quick, a guardian of something precious.

So came the idea that there was a totem involved. Something my arabian fairy would protect. This is when a gem was attached to the headdress of my first drawing. Later the idea evolved so that the totem might be a form of sacred scarab, that if reunited with a certain tomb, would release an enemy locked away inside.My sketches went on to take a slightly more ethereal and elemental turn what with Justin suggesting that fairies normally are influenced by nature. And their surroundings are usually an extension of their bodies. This led to the fairies using sand for wings but also as weapons. Finally my last idea was a slightly more comedic partnership- in that the scarab is animated. Its trying to get back to its evil master and our Arabian fairy keeps it on a leash so that the balance isn't upset. Of course if she takes her eyes of the little bug for one second, the whole world might be in trouble...!

Friday, 11 October 2013

CG Artists Toolkit: Head Modelling (Part 1)

Below are the progressive snapshots of a head being modeled in Autodesk Maya. Everything begins with blocking in. In this case taking a cube and pulling vertices and edges into a very basic head shape (with the addition of a few bits of geometry.)

 The next step is simply to add more geometry outlining the mouth better preparing a space for the nose and also refining the eye socket slightly. Adjusting vertices as you go along to flesh out the head shape better.

The third part involves adding shape to the lips. Here some extrusion was involved and the addition of new geometry. Suddenly the face seems less creepy and mask like a a little more characterized.

And finally (for now at least) the eyes are worked into. A lot of geometry is added here (many rings) in order to create the eyelids and the shape of the socket. The addition of a temporary eye giving the model a little more character.

The next steps are to create the nose and ear which will be completed shortly...

Friday, 4 October 2013

Maya Tutorials: Lip Syncing- Jaw Bounce and Phonemes

So, we're back on Maya once again and what a way to start but with lip syncing. I was admittedly a little apprehensive because it looks like such a complicated thing to master but of course we were eased into the process. the whole thing starts with as jaw bounce. simply pin pointing when the mouth will be open and closed. The line being spoken by the character is as follows.

'Heyyyy, maybe I'll give you a call sometime. Your number still nine-one-one?'

So to begin all the 'ae', 'ee', 'oh' and 'you' sounds indicate the mouth with be open, while m's, v's and f's will be achieved with the mouth shut. The below animation was my first attempt at opening and closing the mouth at the right moments. I feel its out of place on the second sentence however, mainly due to the speed at which the line is spoken.

The second part of the tutorial was adding phonemes- essentially shaping the mouth so that the words can be read on the lips. This made a far more interesting looking character as things began to take shape. the resulting video is still messy, but it came out better than I thought it might.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Narrative and Character: Shaking things up and creating the Logo

After out initial research and trying to get stuck into group work on the Tuesday, the bomb dropped on Wednesday that Lucy was leaving and only Meg and I would remain. So far we have clung to the moose drawing of Lucy's, sure it can help us find the identity of our creative studio. With him as the basis I went into further development.

I wondered if I could play on the word moose and the expression. Testing the title 'Apex Moose' here and there. but toying with a suggestion of Meg's to make our studio 'Grumpy Moose' instead. After a few fun sketches I moved into photoshop for a little play around with a few ideas...


Still dissatisfied the logo went on for further remodelling. Having google searched your average moose but also looked up old cartoon styles, such as Peanuts comic strips and also baring in mind Loony Tunes the following development took place.

All thats left to do now is finalise his face and the typeface we'd like to keep. Meg will be doing the vectorising and we will finally have our Grumpy Moose!!

Narrative and Character: The Beginning

Tuesday last week saw the briefing to our biggest most daunting term yet. To kick off year two we are embarking on a team based project on Narrative and Character- beginning with the narrative element. Split into roughly teams of three, we have each been assigned a time period in history. The plan is at the end of the project each short animation will flow one after the other to create a portmanteau film -or a collection of shorts.

For the duration of this project I will be creating with Meg Leslie (http://meg-leslie.blogspot.co.uk/) and Lucy Yelding (http://lucy-yelding.blogspot.co.uk/) and we were assigned the Atomic Era- 1945-1960. 

Immediately my mind was filled with the great Disney film 'The Iron Giant.' One scene that really sang to me was one where Hogarth Hughes, the nine year old protagonist, is sat in class watching an educational 'Duck and Cover' film which are synonymous with the period. Alongside was the idea that the human race might not be alone in the universe- Hogarth's Giant friend being the prime example of such an idea. And finally in the climactic scenes towards the end of the film, the fear of the atomic age is truly realized by the characters. 

So with our initial briefing over we got straight down to brainstorming. I made the mistake of being the scribe and below you can see the mess of ideas spattered across a notebook page. The general themes that came up in that session were all doom, gloom, war and fear. Pondering how we could go about creating something with this era, a comedy or something far more serious?

We got to doing some research into the subjects we could vaguely recall during our little session- disregarding those that were out of our time frame and trying to find interesting stories. When we'd exhausted our brains we finally turned to ideas of what to brand our little studio. Name generators started the ball rolling, an attempt at combining our names also provided amusement (MegEmUcy- Mega Moosey) eventually leading to the possible title of 'Apex Moose Productions' - no one said it had to make sense... And Lucy's quick sketch was quite inspiring!

There was a lot more development to go but in the meantime we had a little shake up...