Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Character development, expression sheet and turn around

When starting my character I mainly concentrated on how to cross a seal with a mermaid, and how this would effect her movements. As you can see I also experimented with different hair styles and how to make her not look like a stereotypical mermaid with long flowing hair. One of my main concerns was her tail fins as I wanted people to recognise the fact that they are seal flippers, so I simplified the design right down.

I spent a long time watching animations and looking at concept art on how I could shape my characters face from the side. In the end I chose a shape which looked more seal like rather than human like, as I felt it added to her character, and would drive her aspiration to look more like a human.

I then went on to do a more detailed analysis of my character by creating an expression sheet with my chose head and facial look. I really enjoyed this process and found it reasonably easy to draw the faces I was hoping. I did however keep it quite simple and stuck with only looking at the faces from a frontal angle.

This then led me to create her character turn around, where I looked at how she would be viewed at the front and back (in a T-pose) and her side view. I found this really difficult to do, and especially struggled with the arms. I think with practise I would probably get better with the proportions and scaling of each part of her.

Sketch-up version of my environment

As my character is a sealmaid, she is half the size of the human shown on the scale, showing that this house is quite small. After creating my concept artwork and basic layout shape I was able to create a similar version using Google Sketchup, to make an outline.

From looking at the concept art, I added in the walls to the various rooms, changing some of the shapes slightly. I really like the unusual spaces created, yet it still sticks to the traditional Japanese housing layout.

I was then able to raise the sections of the bedrooms up higher than the entrance to show that those rooms are further inside the cave allowing air to flow inwards and stop the water coming in. As this is my first time using Google Sketchup, I wasn't sure how to create walls and a roof, but as a general floor plan I think that this shape explains my idea well.

Here is the measured version, however some measurements are the length of the sides rather than across the rooms. But this gives a general idea of how large the environment is.

Leeds Art Gallery and Leeds City Museum

One of the first things when starting this module was to take a trip to both Leeds Art Gallery and Leeds City Museum for the first section of the module. 

From one of the hand outs at the gallery I started looking at how some of the abstract sculptures resembled different animal shapes, for instance a flamingo. I also liked how in the passage the artist described his work to be like armatures, which directly links to this concept of skeletal structures and animation as a whole.

I then spent some time at Leeds City Museum, primarily in the lower ground section where all the taxidermy animals are kept. As I was certain I was going to do an animal character or a human crossed with an animal, I was interested in drawing their shapes, expressions and in some cases their skulls.

Final Environment concept artwork

After doing some concept sketches, I scanned some of them in to turn into more finished pieces of concept work, and colour them on photoshop.

I started off thinking about the Japanese floor plans, and the importance of that layout, and then drew out a rough weird cave shape, which I then adapted these ideals around. I purposely wanted smooth curves and rounded shapes to play a big part in her living space, especially after looking at the mood board I produced of the futuristic looking water houses. As it is in a cave I still wanted to keep the natural looking aesthetic, with the walls staying as rook (other than her bedroom which she has plastered and painted to be more like a human girls bedroom). In this image you can also see the entrance into the cave and out to the ocean. That hallway would always be flooded as it is on a lower level to the main rooms, which you have to swim up to, and are above water level. However in high tide the cave fills up, so all furniture and appliances are adapted to be able to withstand both conditions.

After doing the floor plan I thought it was important to show where the doors are, as well as the key furniture pieces, which allows you to understand the scale of each room.

I felt it was important to create a human-like kitchen, even if she would be unable to use some of the appliances. I also wanted to keep it in the same aesthetic as the rest of the house, but more toned down. I particularly wanted to show that the kitchen has been adapted to fit the space they have, which is why they have a curved kitchen workspace.

This piece of concept work shows the outside of her house, with the hole opening into the sea. As it is a piece of rock with a large space underneath (so it is resting above the sea bed), it was important to show it in relation to the environment around it. The rock housing my characters is attached to a cliff, which would be to the left of the image shown.

This was my first piece of concept artwork I created for this project, and the one I am post proud of. I really enjoyed designing this room, and had good fun laying this room out and carefully choosing what my character would choose to own.

Development of final concept art pieces

My character Shishi, is a sealmaid (seal crossed with a mermaid) but she despirately wants to live like humans do, which is reflected in her choice of housing and in particular I found her bedroom would be important. As she is still a young girl, and finding herself, style and personality wise, I thought it was important to keep her room 'young looking' with lots of toys, and funny/interesting knick knacks based on real things I have found on sale on online craft shops such as Etsy. 

I then started adding base layers down, and changed the opacity, to give interesting washed out tones.

Because all of the opacity has been changed, when any other details or colours are added on separate layers, it gives a really nice overlapping colour, and adds to the aesthetic I feel my character would have. She is a colourful character, and lives under the sea in a cave, which I feel matches these colours well. I have tried to keep the colours, shapes and objects to be soft and warm.

Once the background layer of my initial sketch is removed, you can see the effect I am going for my using this method. Although this image is whilst it is still in the development stages, I think it shows my thought process behind creating an environment specific to my character, and her personality.

Here is the final piece of concept artwork for Shishi's bedroom.

Floor plan examples

Before designing the environment that my character will be living in, I looked at a few floor plans for ideas on how to arrange her space.

On the website I found this image of the typical layout for a Japanese house. As my character is Japanese and still living there this is a really useful floor plan to refer back to. Layout wise I can use the same room structure, but manipulate the space and sizes to suit my characters living needs (such as making the shapes more curved to show that it is inside a cave). 

When borrowing Chris' 'Making of Totoro' book I found this beautifully planned out floor plan of the main characters house and how it relates to part of their garden. Although it is unclear from this which room is which (as it is written in Japanese) , you can guess some of the rooms, and I have taken on the unusual shape. As this is a Japanese film it is really relevant to my own personal set again.

I struggled to find any more floor plans which were completely relevant to what I was searching for, but I came across these three pieces of fan art created by the same group of people. What they do is try to figure out the shape of famous films and series' housing or buildings, and recreate them in a floor plan style. Although this is working backwards, and not 100% what I am looking for, I find it really interesting to see the unusual shapes used and created, often due to the limitations of space when filming, giving weird and unusual angles. These three in particular are my favourites, not only because they are shows that I personally watch, but due to the interesting layouts

Colour Palette

After creating my first piece of environment finished concept artwork I was interested to find out what colours and how many I used in that one piece and make a colour palette for future pieces in this project. I was so surprised with my vast amount of colour choices as I didn't realise how many I had used!!

Flip Book

Here is my finished flip book, which I am quite surprised about as I thought it would be a lot more jumpy. I am unhappy at it being at 24fps (frames per second), as I added way too many movements, and it could do with more inbetweening.
FLIP BOOK MOVIE from sacha frampton on Vimeo.

I decided to export out a separate version at 12fps, which slows down the movement by half. I feel that this version is much better and shows what I was hoping to achieve more. I think I over complicated my idea, animating too many elements, which lost my concentration on how the overall animation would look. I am however happier with this version, which in my opinion could be slowed down even further.
FLIP BOOK 2 from sacha frampton on Vimeo.

Storyboard and animatic

Before I started making my flip book I did a quick brain storm of simple ideas I could animate my sealmaid doing. The first idea was to do a swim cycle (as she doesn't walk!!) or her saying something. But I decided to base the animation around what she likes doing (as described in her character proformer) making it more personal to her. This gave me the idea of having her drink a milkshake, which would allow me to animate her facial expressions as well as her body language. As she often meets friends for milkshake I thought I would add the element of her waving to them as if they were coming to meet her, and her tail wagging with excitement. Because they are underwater with a small tide, I also made the choice to animate her hair and necktie rippling and flowing. As this is quite a lot of animating for an initially simple idea, it was important that I storyboarded.

Here is my one page storyboard showing really simple examples of the movement I wish to show.
From this storyboard I was able to reuse those frames to create an animatic, which is a moving storyboard, with each frame lasting as long as that specific movement would do. By doing this you can get more of an idea on the timings for the animation, even if the images are roughly done.
storyboard and animatic images from sacha frampton on Vimeo.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Visiting Leeds Art Gallery

Today I went to the 'Liberty and Anarchy: Nike Savvas' exhibition at Leeds Art Gallery, as well as the general sculptural exhibition. I really liked the concept behind most the pieces I viewed today, and how shape, line and most importantly colour had been used to enhanse and bring each piece to life. When I am developing my character and environment I shall keep these factors in mind, and try to create the same effect with my work. I particularly like the reflective element to some of the pieces, and the clever use of space and how this can distort your perception of the piece.

Character Proformer

Before writing my character proformer, I did a bit of background research into archetypes.

From this I did a basic outline of what I wish my character to be like, which helped form ideas about their personality and background history.

Name – Shishi Ori

Story Purpose – On her own personal mission to find answers to her background history and species, as well as the disappearance of her father.

Alignment – Neutral/good

Persona – Independent, strong minded.

General Disposition – As the only one of her kind, she is lonely but is yet to realize quite how much. She is a trouble maker at home, often breaking things by accident when dancing/pretending to be a scientist/doing her art homework, but doesn't mean to cause any harm.

Special Abilities – She is one of a kind in her species. She has no 'magical powers' or 'special abilities' as such, but enjoys making friends.

Education/Intelligence – She is at a mixed species school, which covers both seal and mermaid teachings as she was unable to get into a specialist school. This means she has many friends who are very different to her, as she enjoys diversity. Her best friends are an octopus who competes in the bi-weekly roller derby competitions, a seahorse who loves knitting and 'yarn bombing' (political graffiti using wool) and a few other sea creatures who are in the school band but often are at band practice so they are rarely in their social group; but her friends diversity in culture and upbringing, along with their personal hobbies and interests help to shape her own interesting personality and intelligence.

Family – Her mother, a seal, broke all species rules and rebelled against her parents (who since disowned her) by falling in love with a merman and breaking all of her parents beliefs. Her father is on a long buisness trip, and hasn't came home for four years, and it is unclear when he may return.

Aspirations – To find someone like her, but she is quite happy messing around and trying to do well in school at the moment.

Addictions – Milkshake, trying to desperately live like a human (going to extreme levels to attain their lifestyle)

Occupation and attitude toward it (good or bad) – She doesn't have a job at the moment, but trying to search for one in a milkshake bar or cinema so she can have free milkshake. She doesn't really want a job, but her mother keeps pestering her to start searching for one.

Objective(s) – Find her voice.

What does this character want? – For her father to come home, to find another one of her species, to do well in school without trying so hard and to impress her friends. 

Who or what does s/he love? – Her parents and her two closest friends.

What is s/he afraid of? – Finding someone of her kind and it not living up to her expectations.

Why does s/he involve her/himself in this situation? – She doesn't have a choice.

Other roles and identities? – Main protagonist.

Single adjective to describe this character – Playful.

Skills – Clever (doing well in her biology, especially when studying humans, and art classes), artistic, finds it easy to make friends, most characters find her trustworthy.

Reports/Answers to? – Her parents and teachers. She also seeks advice and guidance from her classmates.

Who reports to this character? – Her two close friends go to her when needing advice.

Trademark Object – Her 'lucky' hair bobble, which her father gave her as a child.

Common emotions (picking three) exhausted, confused, ecstatic, guilty, suspicious, angry, hysterical, frustrated, sad, confident, embarrassed, happy, mischievous, disgusted, frightened, enraged, ashamed, cautious, smug, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeful, lonely, love-struck, jealous, bored, surprised, anxious, shocked, shy. – mischievous, hopeful, lonely.

Signature Move or Tic – waves her hand and shakes her tail like a dog would.

Nationality – Japanese.

Ethnicity – Half Japanese half English.

Religion – None.

Favourite Food – Noodles.

How does this character dress? – Wears human clothing tailored to her shape by her mother. She occasionally wears mermaid clothing, but she feels this doesn't reflect her personality enough.

Accent – English, with a slight Japanese twang.

Dialogue Tics and Slang? – It is very colloquial, and varies with the species she is socializing with.

Locations where this character is mostly likely to “blend in” – She never feels as if she fully fits in, but feels most at home either in her bedroom or at her local milkshake bar with her two best friends. 

Where was the character born? - Japan.

Where has the character been? – Japanese waters.

Where does the character live? – In the island area Oki, under the sea in a cave house.

Where will (did) s/he die? And how? – Her cause of death is unknown, as she is still alive, but it will most likely be due to her mischievous antics.

Objects the character wears on his or her body – She occasionally wears jewellery, but always wears a hair bobble in her hair given to her by her father.

Dichotomy of character (inner conflict in the character) – She fights with her knowledge of her species situation, yet wishes to know more about other species that she longs to be.

Relation to other significant characters – Daughter, pupil and best friend.

The innocent (character to be determined) – Sushi (cat), one of the humans on the mainland's pet, who helps her secretly to understand the ways of humans.

What we’d think if we saw this character on the street. – Confident, chatty and happy girl, but unsure what species of mermaid she is (may not fully realize that she is crossed with a seal).

Three days before the party started: About one of the peak moments in the character’s life. What s/he was doing before it all started? – Madly searching for answers to where her father is.

How did this character lose his or her virginity? – She hasn't.

Morality: – Tries to make the right choices for her, based on her feelings and how it would affect the people around her.

Emotional Stability – She is strong, but has deep falls in her mood due to loneliness.

What do they do to comfort themselves? – Drinks milkshake, plays with her toys, watches humans from afar, talks to her two school friends or Sushi the cat.

Phobias: heights, snakes, darkness, etc. – The jellyfish bullies at school, growing up, and watching horror films.

Vanity – She takes great pride in the clothing she wears (especially when human clothing).

Epitaph: What will go on the character’s tombstone? – “The last of her kind. Cared for by so many”

Actor Suggestions – None.

Impressionistic Age and Health – In her childhood still, around 8 years old (13 in human years). She has an expanded lifespan compared to her mother who has 40 years, as her father has 80, meaning she averages at 60 years. She is in good health, but her mother worries if ever she becomes ill the medicine won't be able to adapt to suit her needs.

Impressionistic Height – Human sized upper body, but small stumpy tail like a seal. Around 4.5 foot.

Impressionistic Weight – Rounded tail, which looks as if she may be over weight, but it is just her species characteristics.

Body Type – Curvy.

Hairline/Colour – Black/dark brown.

Eye Colour – Dark blue.

Facial Hair – None.

Photography task

Here are some photographs under the different categories stated in the brief. After undertaking a number of camera and lighting inductions last year, Lydia and I chose to photograph our sets that we made for our collaborative animation. These photographs I feel show the thought process we went through when trying to tick each of these six boxes, especially with the apature category as we did loads of tests to see how it can effect the temperature of the image.

 Shutter speed
 Depth of field