Character Design

Designing Believable CG Characters

In prsvous projects I have always lacked a certain confidence when ~ comes to character design My characters have In the past looked undeveloped and not 'of the world' I therefore knew that thISwould be the perfect oppurtunlty to really push my abll~ and make sure I develop characters that feel fully realised From the very beginning of the project I knew that I wanted to use It to Improve on my previous failings The character design at ths stage blooms from two real areas of research. The first ISthe understanding and backstory of each character The second was an understanding of style The following pages hghUght some of the Influences and research I carried out on the characters themselves However, my pnmary Influence in terms of style came from the work of early 20th Century Amencan Illustrators such as J C Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell The key Influence withn these selected works developed from the very sketch like quality acheved and the muted emotiVe tones that gve each piece a IlJman qua~ that CG often looses It was Important from the very begnrmg that the human quality of my animation was maintained as used to help emphasise the emotiVe nature of the narratiVe

Character Design' Influence and Initial Ideas

The TV Repa~man ISa bopeless yet talented man he needs to appear as trough he has suffered In his past but finds love (1 muSICThe characters and people shown In thIS11"lfluence ap m demonstrate the personaUtyof my jXotagonlSt At his core he ISkind and loving as well as a superb panst But at the begnnlng of the anrnaton he needs to come across as a sUghlydisturbed and creepy character HISface and demeanour need to demonstrate a past In an Instant and tell the audience that he has struggled through life The oenst character ISa difficult role that needed to develop she needed to be beautiul rut n that heart achng way She had to seem smart and poUte talented and Intelligent whlst still seemingly qU1l?t lovely I wanted to really and make my characters more realISedthan I had done so In prevous projects ! want both characters to feel styUsedand of her own world Tns WIllnot only add charm to the anmation but prevent It from looking UKemy prevIous work and help people forget thil?yare watchng CG The qoot beauty of inese characters shown on the lelt ISsornetboq that I want to acheve n the osnst character She ISsuccessful and her watls are covered 111hotographs, but she 15 not vain p The photogra~ are of famous panls!!'>she has met and she needs to come across as someone who ISutterty devoted to her art

Studies exploring potential design for both the Pianist and Repairman.

Studies exploring potential design for both the Pianist and Repairman.

Churncrcr

Design - Development

Drawings

from the Sketchbook

Studies exploring potential design for both the Pianist and Repairman.

Character Design - Early Digital Experiments
-------------------------

Trese early ske'ch expenMerts were my first attempts at crealing a .. que and ".ultable style After looi<lng at the work of IlL,Js'rators sue,,", as J C Leyenn decker It became apparent that I needed a physcal and hunan quaJty to rry animation The key was to capture a 'sketcbbook-like style tha' would prevert my work trom having the aesthetIC of generic CG. whilst also emphasIsing the ernotve quality of the rarratrve

Character Design - The Hepairman Initial Design Tests

The studies shown on the nghtare quck expenments trying to explore new options with the Repairman character These simple ideas are then taken further during sketching tests to try to create the most Interesting and thought out designs pOSsible. The defining feature of ths character IShis melancholy and depressed nature. He needs to Immediately demonstrate to the audience that he has struggled through Ufe It therefore becomes apparent that the eyes and eyebrows of the character are the most mportant dS these Immediately give expression to the face ThIS srr.ple use of expenrnent draWing al.ows fooeas to be pushed forward at a much faster rate than usual

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Character Design - The Repairman - Study

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Character and Art Direction
-i"'e first of my ctose up I:haracter sludiPc, was dENPIOpeli from d t'1llrnt'Pdll demonstrated In a

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Brown Flesh Tone Base

Character Design - The Repairman - Study

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The 00.. of the character will be developed from dark skin tooes, My Inlllal thoughts 00 this were to create an almost monotone hue to the ammauon, but I feci a slIghtly desaturcd and muted tone 15 more successful. This 00.. provides a subtle yet saddened quality that the character needs to emote.

Cross hatched te,tunng will be applied to not only add shading and texture, but also give the 6nal arumauon a human quahty. In order for the piece to have the IlIQ6t Impact It must Cui very human and almost handmade. This method provxles a sketchbook like quality which compliments the narrauve .

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Small areas of bold colour help highlIght areas of the face that become crucial for expression. The characters eyebrows and forehead WIll be the centre of this emotion.1 output and so by using small pands of bolder oolour these cmonve reo sponses wtll be more noacable.

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The facial Iea tures arc accentuated by the blue I turquiose hlghlight..,,- whIch only serve to contJ'3Sl the base colour but also rcOcct the melonchohe nature of the Repairman, The important of the art style IS to add a I.yer of detail to the narrauve, to this case. Iwant to emphastse emouon,

Character Design - The Repairman - Study

#03 The character forehead needs to be large, demonstrating someone who is intelligent, but also suffering from a variety of problems.

Expressing Backstory
At this stage the character isn't finalised or decided upon, however, through these studies I have begun to understand a few features that are important for the character to be successful. Often, within character design, the artist starts with silhouettes of the full body and refines until they are happy with the outcome. However, with this animation the most important aspect is the face as it really is a dance of eyes. Therefore, it seemed best to start with the design of the face. The fea cures of the face need to reflect the persona of the character. He is withdrawn, intelligent but socially awkward. His face needs to demonstrate how much he is trying to hide from society, whilst also demonstrating that he is somewhat creepy. The forehead and eyebrows of the character need to really push the emotive quality of the repairman. An instant shot needs to tell the audience a complex backstory.

Large eyebrows allow for quick expressive tones to be communicated to the audience. They also help demonstrate that the character is somewhat hidden withm himself.

Small eyes on the character display the anxious and nervous expressions that fill the repairman's persona. They also provide a slightly uneasy quality that is necessary for the 6rst act of the arumanon,

Facial hair demonstrate another layer of the character which he is hiding behind. His want to cover his face reflect the fear of the repairman himself.

Character Design - The Repairman - Study

#04

Pastel skin tones and more exaggtnted rones In highl1ghteda~

Hair would be modelled and absrract in form, simphstk shapes as opposed to realIStic hair mated using planes and curves.

Conrras<mg blue pasullughlighr, emphasi ... rhe meloncbolk nature of the character,

Sketched highlights withIn the face. tbts adds to the cmoeve quahty of the animatlOO.

Character Design - Developing Facial Structure
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Character Design - Finalising the Character

Character

Design - The Repairman

Body Silhouette

Character Design - Finalising Body Structure

Character Design - Preparing Designs for Production

Once the designs are finalised It ISmportant for the work to be prepared for modelling. These can be turned Into orthoqrephs and used directly In Maya as a reference when l-nodelling the character

Character Design - Repairman Body Orthographs

The hair needs to be modelled from geometry and work to help the structure of the face.

Cross hatching is again used to help give a hand drawn quality to the character.

Small "imperfections" give the character a real beauty that be, comes more emotive than the typical and synthetic CO look.

Character Design - The Pianist - Study

#02

The hair is presented in a clean and tidy manor, reflecting the nature of the character.

Exploring Character Style
The female character is a difficult aspect to get right. The repairman can be more exaggerated and extreme, but the pianist needs to be beautiful and attractive. Therefore, one can't move too far from reality. How, ever, there is a certain imperfect beauty that I feel is necessary with such a character. At this stage, the character is simply being de' veloped on the page, this is the first stage of the process but some aspects of this design begin to work. The larger nose adds to a more normal beauty whilst the larger eyes help with emotive qualities. This design was developed from the previous page of facial silhouettes and it feels appropriate that the face is curves and elegant, almost heart shaped.

Glasses give the character
a more sophisticated and intelligent persona.

Curved facial structure gives the sense of friendliness and soft beauty,

The colour pallette of this character still follows the ideas 1 previously wanted. a slight desaturation mixed with a sketchy cross hatched shader.

It may be possible to make the geometry of such a model more basic, aligning it with my original thoughts on style.

The problems 1currently face are about getting the anatomy of the face in line with the style of the male character.

Character

Design - Female Body Structure

Reflecting Character The female character's body design needs to be more subtle than that of the repairman. She neds to obviously appear femanine but also needs to convey a sense of restraint and intelligence. There are a few design choices that will allow for easier work during production, for example, a skirt could provide problems down the line. The designs with a shirt and jumper demonstrate the slightly uptight character rather well, so this may be the option to move for' ward with.

Character Design - Female Face Studies

After having some ,,£ues Wlttl my preVIOUS jeSigns I went back to r,e drawing board ard tned to retrmk the character Sr€ r,eej to look more attrectve but sull have retain a level of Intelligence

Character Design - Female Face Studies

Character Design - Pianist Design Complete

The final design of the pianist tits with the oncmel dees outuneo at the start of preproducUon After constant changes I feel thiS tinal version of the character not only belongs to the same world as the repairman but also bnngs with her an Intelligence and beautv srruar to those outline In early Influences

Character Design - Pianist Body Orthographs

Environment Design and Concept Art
Creating The Minor Key World

Developing

a Visual Style

After plenty of research Into character and I style I started sketching out some possible Ideas about how I could create a visual look to my workd The tests shown below are an attempt to capture the sketchy quality of my preproduction draWings using digital mediums The style of my animation will follow a muted and toned approach (posSIblymonotone) and this brown hue emphasises the strange world of our protagonist The cross hatched lines of the shading are something that needs to be captured within the texturing of my world. along with the 'washy' watercolour feel of the under painting. Under painting With cross-hatched shadows

Cross-hatcbeo Highlights

Cross-hatching

Water colour style under paintings

The style of my animation must be used to add to the emotive nature of the narrabve This muted tone will help With this respect as well as allow the producuon of props and background terns to be mUCl1oucker The world WI feel sketchy and the small dehals, books. tables. cups and bottles Will a,[ have little ceta The rrportant props wil follow a Similarrule. but the Importance of tbern wnl be clear

Character Design - Developing Visual Style

In these early experiements I wanted to push the art direction as far as possible, therefore I really focused on creating a painterly and sketch like tone to my texture. These few simple objects could be turned into a fairly readable items simply by creating a texture that conveys its message clearly and emphasisng the areas of importance. 8y creating a simple toon outline shader within Maya and rendering it out as a seperate pass with a surface shader applied to all objects, an outline of the scene can be created. This provides an almost hand drawn quality to the image which helps move away from generic CG further.

A complete scene was then created to see if this style could work successfully on a larger scale, The outcome seemed to provide a unique and interesting visual tone but at this stage I felt as though this art direction was moving too far away from the style of my characters. This however was a crucial testing stage before production started I wanted to create something similar in theme, however prevent the style from taking over to such a dramatic extent From this stage I continued to use the painterly texutre and sketchy style shown. but tried to overlay this style on to more realistic textures which suited the world of the characters.

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Once these layers are comped together the scene automatically takes on an interesting tone. From this stage I felt the painterly texture quality would become important in defining the visual style of the animation. I was still unsure as to whether the strong style of this idea was the right direction. however. it certainly was an important move away from very dull looking CG.

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Animatic and Previs
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Modelling Characters and Defining Topology
Tre model~rg stage 15tre first part of the pooUne wrer- things really start to come 10 life ve always hund lila a good rnooe. looks ~ mP(e Tr e topology '1eedc; I) l,Jok even and accorete altowlrg for Qnod deformation when anrr atiflg but aiso orovde enough delall ready for sculptJng If' Ztrush
J'ormally find thai rnooellnq the nead helps rr'e UJ'lderslanc Ire character dnd n~lp forrr- th& later jetalls easer • 'J5e box fJ'OtJeLng a~ a 'echnrque '0 gel 'he form and topolcqv '~(lrrcc:t however I" the future WII Pt.,c;, r-v c,,; rt the rr-xt '1 n Zt.n.,r md l"'"ln r~tLl~ ,10' ~15e evervt ng after Ire [<:lSI: shape 15set C'Ul

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Modelling Characters and Defining Topology
----

After ,..Wing the cbarecter 'he next two stages C3r begin -iormauv start by SCUPlt,ng the character In Ztwsh shown on the nex~ page then bake an Ambent Occlusion map of the cnaracter to use as a base of my textures Tr", allows rre to understand the forms of the fae'" and '1oW h.;J1t"ghts and Shelp€! can ..>e painted The~e tex teres tr. ok lonqer than r rv rrral due V, ,"1e painterly stylE' wanted to acheve As show n my concept art f')r tl"e c.harac.ter I tned to achEt've :; sketcf-]y auaetv to the rnar« r"-akf1g Ths car De achieved byad,l.Istlng 'he p<ec;ets c-f Ft1otosh::lO C'I,shi?s (Sf! ,.:;r c ~atternq) to c'eate c -:halh. ~ke orusr. ')'ark

Modelling Characters and Defining Topology

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Sub Surface Scattering Shaders

At the beginning of the project I wanted to try and push every stage f Llrther tran I had dore befor@ I also wanted to raise the lp.vel of professonatsrr- and so It seemed obvious to use Sub Surf ace :,cdttenng shaders as a W3Y of moving my work forward Althougr theSE)sheders car> 00 difli'.ult to set up. ,t ey provide d ner,h t'l,)· e oo'h 'PdUstrcy ut ,_r d JL>U or d hgh qUclllty when rendered A< Y' J r drl seO" lr t'1e ' = ',t t'llo> ;1" 3(jer r~eos ;: •.::. Jr "Iv xl t{' Jt31+ t 0KJf q 'I"lrrel t ,LIt nr=t rr ~ _raC1er <:4[1 D f!ry -lastJ, ar r. Jr "'lnnv Jt ( r p re(.,"A__ dr'l ( ~,rr t "'J J, Itr '1\ t n:..... . lrts t 1 l~
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Texturing - Rim Shader
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After my character was setup with textures and varIOUS other maps It was hlQhllghted that a nm shader would provide an extra .ayer of detclll and depth This sheder provides a highltght around tr'e ed~lE;of the char Ictf~r depencJant or the angle of the face T'lls helps the I'tlal "e'er stard JUt 'rom 're becl- Jround ar'":! p'l"'vdec; rrors vanator- t\. tl18 lonr= ar. COl'X of the>c:hr·s. -r'll" fY'dge U'l the left ~em cr-strates the rtP8rc;h~rj"" ~'-'tup of t~IISShi::td8r It r, - C, :·Eo '1\.l2 .. y ,,)rntO::!rt fp.;x.ture -lrl<l a triltl' f~lru t r rr t - xLJr, _( rnt 'II-! t ql:..tr, r Jr " I Y fl" b Id~ r ( J. r

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The Unseen Art - Rigging

RIQQlnghas always been a stage which I have struggled with. It often goes wrong and It I find It drflicult to create ngs that are sirnple yet effective and E:asy to anirnate However. 1 was determined not to shy away frorr ~hls stage. planned to Irdude -,everal ff?at'-lre; within the rrg. and thankf Jlly I rlal'aged to unptment aU of tI'em Trese re'1gecl '-rorT' baSIC 1< IF-K ar-n swtches to cluster / blEmdshapo? f::11 al corxrols
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The Unseen Art - Rigging

FaciaL anrnaton IS always a vital aspect of any character piece and considering mine was very heavily focussed In thiS area I wanted to create a system that allowed for very easy deforM<ltlOn of the face Tlle baSIC dea was to create a systerr of blendshapes, each representing :J barl( emotional stato on top ~Jth's apply an array r-,f rTVE'tS «rea+er-j :.JslIlg the RIVet scnplt ar-J ( ontrollmq these a senE'Sof clusters. Tils pre )vrled 3 very eaSIly ad ustaole ",pt Jt contols A.ry "t lrp blue ~~lr,· ~r.x" seer Cdr tl8 'l1l:Ve<... d =fI'e.....t d 'be ar..,a j.,finR -v rp t lu - t"lr -r:-18 l r --I, hac 8<;' -r- ulrl t lrpJ~"1 ai '
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Art - Rigging
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The final stage of rigging was to create an Interface that would make erumanor, as quick and easy as pos siole. As I am 'lot a natural coder" I decided to use a free SCript avalable on CreatN6' (:ow Tr's was called the prSele-:tonUI and allows the user to c'eate cottons to select ary object they (jE"s,re -Jr, 3llPrnatlVE"lY thl?Y can -;:'8dte and store p(..oses elt the toucf ~f d bL.tt()r 1111sW3S d superb senor JS It allowed ...,e tr.. "et tbe c+ JrJeter Jf) very qUlCk~V e.rld eff.,.,dy, whilst lbr 3llow1rg r'lE' tr v~y raMe 0tC all In tre -clm· mal lilt.... U-l
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Environment Modelling and Texturing

The envronment was an area whICh I underestimated. It needed a lot more detail and work than I Initially thought but it also turned out to be part of the project I enjoyed most and found most rewarding These Images show the Inltal models created. tbs is an area I can create quickly and successfully However. after this I needed to create a lot of textures (Including .JVlng a lot of objects) and get a world that felt realised and fulL The textures took a lot of work then .Ightlng was required and tweaklrg to the objects until the character and the environment felt of the same world

Environment Modelling and Texturing

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My InloalllghtJng setup created a good base for the tone and softness that I wanted to achieve However. after seeking advice from my tutor I found that there needed to be a greater vanety of Ught and the Introduction of bounce Ught around the room. I therefore added spotlights to the ceiling lights. these provided pools of Illumnation on the floor A huge ared tight was created With a l0W intensity ard very soft shadows Trss was placed behind the brick wall (With Ughtllnl-<s brOKen)'0 provde a subtle but effective bounce light on character ard objects.

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Environment Modelling and Texturing

On top of the pnmary envrorernt had to create two exteror sets. The outside of the bUilding sets up the WQI'ld and also becomes mportant n one shot therefore a fully modelled extenor to the bUilding had to be completed I tnsd to keep things rnodctar so I could use objects again LO populate the world I also had to model a van for the repairman, ths was again enothet task that took time. bill I tned to keep It simple as It was only In a couple of shots. Tre second environment was the ~ft and cor-der erca trlS was created 'JSlng eleMenlo, I hdd already modelled for other snots and simply put tall t')geth€'r

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jordanbuckncr

hlow,pot com

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Post Production
The Final Adjustments

Post Processing Renders and Editing
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Professional Practise
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Throughout the project tnea to ma'ntain a profesSlonallevet ')f practise conssteonv updating my blog and keepng my website ill order As graduation approaches however I also need to start tlinkIng about how Will aorxoscr Industry TIle Key here s creating a profile that IS unique end ,nterest,ng My blog already does ths to a certair degree. however as you car SI%> below 'ave' tarted oevelopng oestqns For busir-ess cards I would tike a selecton of cards to act as a we, portfolo EaCIcard has a unique rnaqe on the 'Jack whlst lhe f-ont shows clearly my details "ns rot Only provides a unqoe toucb to what can be a ju •. aspect of busness, but also ar area of nereSl wren at exhbt!0ns etc

www.jordanbuclmer.blogspot.com

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