After showing our scripts to Jude he has asked us to focus on visual development and the look of both the 3D scenes in the doctor’s office and the more experimental 2D dream sequence.
Jude also suggested that we try and divide up the work so that one person will have more control over one aspect of production as it will make the final film more consistent. While we are still working on how this will work in the long run, for now David is working with the 3D environment, making a previs model of the doctor’s office and lighting tests, while Charlotte and Molly are taking another look at the script and making test animations of the dream sequence.
3D Character Design
While I don’t want to be pushy about it I do have a specific look in mind for the 3D characters, so that’s something I’m looking to have more influence over at the moment. As well as design I would like to use this as a chance to get better at character modelling, specifically using ZBrush as I haven’t got much experience using the software yet.
The characters that will require 3D character models are the doctor and Alan, and possibly also the raven on the windowsill and the banshee. Depending on how we create the dream sequence we may need additional characters modelled, but they will likely be a lot simpler than the ones that appear in the doctor’s office scene.
I picture Alan as being quite a large, blocky, tough-looking guy, but clearly tired and troubled as well. For the doctor I would like to contrast this with a much thinner, possibly even semi-skeletal figure that is a little bit eerie but more neutral/unfriendly.
Jude also mentioned that we could try saving time on modelling and rigging the doctor’s eyes by having them be obscured by glasses which are stylistically lit to be opaque white, referring us to the character Kevin from Sin City (2005), which is based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name.
Having difficulty in getting what I wanted down on paper, I went to do some more research into the style and character designs I had in mind.
Frank Miller / Dave Mckean / Mike Mignola
These artists have an angular, dark, inky style and though this art is very graphic and illustrative in nature it very much captures the essence of what I have in mind for our 3D character designs. The heavy contrast and shading and the sharp, wrinkled features of the characters convey this sense of weariness and tension and are also quite sinister and creepy, which I think fits the tone of the film.
The Backwater Gospel
I really love this film, I think it has very strong design and composition which is evident in every shot. I also think its visuals are very close to a 3D version of the style of the artists I looked up above, and though we might not approach our film in the same way as this I think it’s a great source of inspiration.
Studio Laika’s films were another source I looked at for translating this kind of creepy shape-heavy design into 3D characters, especially those of Paranorman (2012) which features characters with unusual angular features.
In order to try and capture what I have in mind for Alan’s design I’ve put together another moodboard. Jude has said that he likes the idea of Alan having this kind of tough, haggard, ‘big guy’ look, so as well as characters from The Backwater Gospel and Sin City I am also looking at the design of Mr Incredible/Bob Parr from Pixar’s The Incredibles (2004) and of Conor from Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea (2014). I particularly like the shot from Song of the Sea (top right) as I think Alan’s design and posture would be similar – a large and imposing man but weary and slumped over.
I am also wondering if it would be possible to create his model to almost look like he’s been carved from a block of wood, with rough, angular, faceted features. If I am honest that particular stylistic element might be too hard to achieve with our current limitations in both time and experience, but I think it’s a cool idea if nothing else.
These are all Pixar characters, from the films Up (2009), Ratatouille (2007) and Geri’s Game (1997). I know I wanted to model a slender, older character who comes off as stern or even condescending towards Alan, so I like the look of the character Anton Ego (right) the most with regards to designing the doctor. Also, as the doctor is going to be seated on the desk and will not move much more than making conversational gestures I want to focus on the design of his hands and face especially.
Though we’re unsure if these characters will be 2D or 3D I have also put together some research moodboards for the banshee and the granny character based on suggestions from Jude.
3D Character Designs
Most of these are fairly rough sketches, experimenting with different face shapes, hair styles, etc. for the doctor character. I hope that I’m getting across the character and personality I’m aiming for. With Alan I had a better idea of what I was aiming for but it was still hard to for me pin down his design in a way that suits 3D.
I’m not entirely satisfied with these character designs, I don’t think they’re very polished or quite reflect the specific look I have in mind, and though I would like to develop these designs further we do not have a lot of time and must keep moving forwards.
As David has more experience than me with character modelling he will be making our main character Alan, and I will be making the doctor model.
Current Powerpoint: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1VQ3jje847GrUuPQc7xiL-Mjq095HUY8HORNoTgRnoXY/edit?usp=sharing