Friday, October 24, 2008

The Hope of New-Earth

Hey All! Another week and this time around it's mid-terms and do I have a post for you! It's the big group-project character design mid-term for Shanth Enjeti's Character Design class! This week we split into three groups of six and were set to the task of recrafting the design for the principal cast of Titan A.E.
Anyone remember Titan A.E?
For those not in the know, it was an animated sci-fi cartoon in the late 90's that tanked at the box office and didn't achieve it's potential for iconic character design and epic story elements. SO...we had a go! :) It was a blast and I was truly blessed with an amazing team of cohorts. We each split the workload for the week and tackled 1 character each, all of us meeting up regularly, collaborating and tweaking eachother's designs. So really no individual one of us can take full credit for any one design, but we each had our "babies".
My baby was a particularly swarthy baby named Korso. He's the ex-military captain of the Valkyrie after planet earth is decimated, and at first he helps the protagonist (Cale) to help find the Titan project (a kind of 'ark' with the potential to recreate a new Earth). But ultimately he sells out Cale and the crew to the Drej (an evil alien race made of pure energy). So his character arc is one of despair, deception, and betrayal. We wanted to play with the mythic ideas present in the preexisting plot and emphasize some of the more poignant elements. With Korso (and likewise with the Drej) we thought about the conflict of material and immaterial. It seemed that if Korso was so disillusioned as to sell out the whole human race he ought to have some compelling motivation to do so. Our proposition is that of the conflict between the spiritual and material. Crippled in his escape from earth, he is shackled to a hovering machine and dependent on it to move and to survive. In all ways, Korso desires to be free of his body...he has a certain contempt for his own flesh. What the Drej offer in this way is the promise of transcendence...of freedom from the material and unlimited power.
His hover-chair runs on Drej-power and I wanted it to reflect his personal transformation, so when he turns fully to the Drej and is forced to fight Cale and crew the side compartments of his vehicle unfold to reveal a set of deadly, electrical spider-legs. We also felt that in his despair he might have taken up drinking in an attempt to 'free' himself from...well...himself. (Bradon Cebenka is due full credit for the booze-rack/tray-table arm-rest). Other little details help to play with the themes of his character...the squareish, strong design is meant to evoke the idea of masculinity and fatherhood, though (in the vest) it is unbalanced and asymmetrical) symbolizing the kind of broken father-figure he provides for Cale. His eyebrow and unbuttoned military-style jacket serve to heighten the sense of asymmetry and allude to his military past as well as his current attitude towards his past (rolled up sleeves). The blanket works as a vain attempt to conceal or familiarize his mechanical lower half...the pattern is zig-zagged to signify the idea of inner conflict. Just a peek "behind the curtain" to see some of the extent of the thought one goes through designing these sort of characters. It was LOTS of fun :D

It took a bunch of small adjustments to find the right mixture of silhouette, form and function for his hover-chair-half. It had to look right, while still maintaining a sense of function and hold the 2d-animated/cel-shaded simplicity (and look like the character was able to fit through doors). Here's a look at some of the process sketches I did in preparation:

And I'm also going to post the rest of the characters from the project with the full understanding that while I had *something* to do with the design of all of them the majority of the credit goes to each respective artist. And they all rock. I love my teammates to death and we really had a blast. Here's the rest! There's a similar amount of thought gone into all the following, but I won't write pages and pages on each. Anyways, it's more fun if y'all figure it out yourselves! :P

Cale - Brandon Cebenka

Akima - Lisa Cunha

Stith - Dan Chang

Gune - Kirsten England

The Drej - Ben Bronstein

It was a neat week! :D
And now we have some time off and I'm going to get some sleep! I hope y'all enjoyed these. I'm doing quite well here...I get to draw aliens with friends, what more can you ask for?
In closing, I'll leave you all with some of the sketches I didn't post for last week's 'Generous Bubblewhale'. I went through a few pages of sketchbook on that one, let me tell you! But these are some highlights and you can see how my thought process works if you're interested!


Emily said...

Your stuff is always so fun to look at. And this sounds like a really awesome assignment!

Anonymous said...

COOL! Well done all.
Love all the thought that went into the characters.
Way deeper than a mere commercial artist like me would have gone!
Hope the prof. liked the outcome.

Spencer G said...

I actually loved Titan AE, the only thing character wise that really bothered me about the movie was the Drej. I didn't find them interesting or scary even at all, not to mention the CG didn't mesh very well with the rest of the animation. I suppose the character designs might not of been out there enough to capitalize on with toys and such but I wasn't really looking for that. Regardless, you all have done a great job on your characters!

little sister said...


Excellent work, Nick! The final crew looks amazing and cohesive. I love the palette and the fact that you didn't give Korso a menacing facial expression- clearly there's a lot more to him than a backstabbing friend.

Love you,

poetsforpeanuts said...

Wow these are incredible! Great work, team! I think I like them better than the originals. :)