For the rabbit characters I wanted to keep them looking relatively realistic, with slightly exaggerated proportions.
However the feedback I received for the design of the main character was that he looked a little too generic, and that there were some shots in the animatic where he looked a lot more appealing, so I changed the design of his face to be more round.
The Bramblesnake is a character concept that everyone seemed to like, so it was important to make him appear as visually interesting as possible while still appearing scary.
Callum has the idea to make the snake look more Draconic instead of looking like a normal snake (as many people find snakes to have adorable faces), which would hopefully make him look scarier.
We found no problems with the design of the Bramblesnake so we went ahead and modelled him.
The Cloudhawk is only going to appear as a dark silhouette, so it wasn’t important what the details of the hawk looked like, only it’s outline. I looked at pictures of Red Kites as I loved their striking silhouette as they fly, with a distinguishing feature being the iconic forked tail.
The Wolf is an important character and it was important that she looked really intimidating. I wanted to emphasise her mouth and her stomach. To do this I made her mouth really big, much bigger than a normal wolf’s, and made her stomach shrunken to give the appearance of a starving animal.
Everyone was happy with the design of the wolf, so we stuck with it.
This is our finished first draft of the animatic.
As you will be able to see, the story differs slightly from the written version I wrote up a few weeks ago. This is because we got feedback between then and now that convinced us to add a few more enemies, and up the danger. We also tried to make our rabbit less of a scaredy-cat and actually be a tiny bit more assertive.
However this version is not without its faults:
- it is too long
- ending is unclear
- Warren is too unlikable
For our next version of the animatic, which will be in 3D with our prototypes, we aim to fix these problems and have a much more concrete story.
As I wanted to give our short film the aesthetic of Ori and the Blind Forest (2015) I went looking for some behind the scenes videos and came across this gem from the lead animator of the game.
It is a wonderful and comprehensive presentation about how the tiny team working at Moon Studios managed to make an absolutely beautiful game whilst overcoming their limitations (team size, experience etc).
A lot of the presentation is to do with game design which isn’t really relevant, but it is still fascinating to see how everything came together.
As it will be my responsibility to set up the blendshapes for the characters’ faces (Callum will be tackling the rigging of the characters’ bodies) I decided to turn to the internet to find some good tutorials discussing the best methods of doing so. The last time I attempted to create blendshapes for facial rigging was in 2015 and the job I did then was amateaur, and I really want to improve, especially considering our character needs to be extremely expressive.
Use mesh identical to the one used in the skeleton (if you 0 out the meshes they all sit on top of each other. Do not change the topology. Only change the vertices you need to change for each particular pose.
This other tutorial that I found uses a very different technique, but it seems to offer a lot more flexibility when it comes to animation, so I might use this one instead.
I need to wait for the modelling and body rigging to be finished before I start.
As Callum and I are proficient at very different skills, we decided to allocate the main bulk of the work fairly evenly.
- Character Design
- Concept Art
- UV unwrapping and texturing
- Sound design
- 3D environments
Since the beginning I was always really keen on the idea of our rabbit carrying a leaf. Originally this was just as a cute little accessory, but since we implemented the rain, we decided that it would be used as an umbrella.
After reading several articles (and from my own personal experience) I realised that the leaf umbrella would serve as a nice metaphor for a comfort item.
Comfort items are very common and are used to help cope with stressful situations. As a child this could have been a blanket or a soft toy. Adults would probably find comfort in an item on their person. They would probably fiddle with their necklaces or twiddle their rings. A common comfort item in this period of time is a smartphone. A lot of anxious people usually find a small amount of sanctuary when they retreat to their mobile devices as an escape from the noisy and overwhelming modern world.
The common denominator in all these items is that they are physical and you can feel them. The movie Inception (2010) touched upon this topic with the “totems”:
The totems were used in the movie to let the bearer know whether or not they were still dreaming. In other worlds, they anchored them to reality.
The leaf, I thought, acted as a very good comfort item for the rabbit, as she acts braver when she holds it, and breaks down when she no longer feels it’s weight in her paws.