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!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Characters Aplenty!

Characters for every disposition and sensibility! Characters with crinkly skin! Characters with glowing pustules! Characters with 'quatrifurcated' beaks!
Another week, another set of characters for your viewing pleasure. Pretty excited about this week's set! It was a very open assignment...all we are asked to do was to design a positive character in cool colors, and a negative character in warm colors! It was particularly fun because I was able to just let go and play...which I definitely how I do my best work. I tend to choke up when I'm intellectualizing the process too much. It's funny how easy it is to silence your imagination when doing these sorts of exercises and stress overly on how the characters will be received. I just tried to envision these more intuitively and less analytically...think about context and story and mood. I went through a TON of pages in my sketchbook really quickly on these...something my Pen & Ink teacher said about loosening up and letting your own idiosyncrasies really enter into the work helped me to approach this week fresh. Anyways, I had a blast (but not much sleep!) And I really hope y'all like them.

Below are some sketches from the previous week (I know, I never posted them). It's funny...for all the past alumni of this class online, I don't think I've ever seen anyone post the results of this particular assignment. It was surprisingly challenging. We had to design an appealing angular, asymmetrical character and an unappealing round, symmetrical character. So there were my solutions. They're pretty "meh" but they worked for the assignment alright...

Anyways, that's all for this week. Hope you're enjoying these! I'm definitely enjoying the work. This week is going to be a doozy! We're teaming up into groups and tackling a complete redesign of the main cast of Titan A.E. ! I'm so pumped for it!
See you next week!


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mercy and Apathy



Another week is over and with it arrive two more characters from Shanth Enjeti's Character Creation class! This week we did a slightly modified version of our last assignment...we were asked to design two characters based respectively on traits we admire and don't admire in others. So (with the full realization that I went a little off the conceptual deep end with these) here are Mercy and Apathy.
Apathy was a tricky one...I ended up with a very intense version of apathy, which belies my editorial opinion on the state of apathy. I went through a number of completely different designs on this...I covered some ridiculous territory (blind, shriveled knights in baby-harvesting machines etc). But I'm happy with this design overall.
Mercy I pretty much overshot completely, in favor of a character design I was kind of in love with. I'm pleased with the outcome, but I'm not sure it communicates the concept of mercy very accurately to a wide audience. What I was thinking was this (with the definition of mercy essentially being kindess/charity despite the right to justice): the character has set aside his natural perogative to prey upon the birds, in favor of embracing them and setting aside his "right". yeah.
Anyways, it's been a good week! Crits went pretty well on these (they were both assigned as cel-shaded, but I couldn't help going in and rendering Mercy after class on Friday was over). And life is otherwise good, and God is better. I've got more work to do, so I can't sit here and blog much more, but I hope you enjoy these!