Friday, 15 March 2013

Marco Polo Development sheets

Initially I started off my Marco Polo child designs in a cartoony style of drawing. I felt this was style was too forced and therefore I went towards more of my usual realistic style of rendering. Whilst my goal was to try and create a realistic style of work I incorporated some of the initial exaggeration from the first cartoony sketches, so that work didn't end up looking stiff. I think it has worked much better than if I were to try and make myself render in a cartoon like style, more akin of Dreamworks animation.   

Another area of difference from my usual work flow is the idea of doing the designs as figures in motion, showing poses that reflected the characters traits. This really helped me flesh out the character design and get a more interesting character design in the end I feel.

My goal with the Marco Polo designs was to have a character whom initially would look more akin to towards a 16th century Tudor style of culture whilst as a child. This was to reflect his beginnings and to help enhance the look of a character whom has been influenced as an Adult by his travels.

In my initial paragraph that laid out the world I was going to incorporate steam punk elements in to the design, but I decided that those kind of designs are quiet tired and I felt design a mixture of Tudor and Chinese/Mongol 16th century clothing styles was challenging and visually interesting that it didn’t need the added science fiction influences.

It also helped to keep to doing something that is out of my comfort zone which is the point of the whole brief. With the face I initially had a cutesy look going for Marco Polos child version, however this looked like just any child.

As such I decided to research forensic ageing photos which lead me to try and reverse engineer the adult drawings/paintings I found of Marco Polo. From my research I found that I could only find pictures of when he was middle aged and from when he was more or less at the end of his life. As such I had no reference for what he could of looked like as a child.

My initial head shots of the character I thought looked older than the required age range, with the final design I tried to add more baby fat to the bone structure of the face, it seemed to help both make the child look younger and also 'cuter' for more audience appeal.

One of the areas I find difficult was balance out the fat and bone structure of the face so that the character looked masculine and young, but not feminine or androgynous which appears to be the danger of drawing children. Before this project I should clarify I have never drawn children before, so this has been a great learning experience.

With the adult Marco Polo I decided to depict him in his mid 30s/late 20s as I felt that drawing him as an older character would force me towards just copying the famous images of him for the iconic appeal, and thus reducing the challenge of the brief. As Marco Polo is not depicted really as younger than 40 from my initial research. This therefore made designing him much more interesting and rewarding from a creative and educational standpoint.

For the adult facial design I basically just took the younger face and trimmed the baby fat, added more planes to the face as your face becomes more defined as you get older and Ive added some wrinkles as well as sunk the eyes into the brow. In regards to his style of clothes as mentioned I wanted to mix traditional Chinese and Mongol dress from the 15/16th centuries with Tudor era clothes.

I felt their styles of clothing were so different it really helped give him that strange/otherworldly appearance he is famous for having when first returning from his 17 years in China.

At this stage I am quiet happy with the designs, I plan to come back to them later to render them out for presentation. If I get the time I will probably depict the Adult version of Marco polo in various poses as well.

I will leave them as is for now, as I need to move on to the Atomhawk brief for their in-house 'The Realm I.P.' I am heading up to Newcastle for some reference shooting soon so I will hopefully get this project started after that.

Edit: I decided to do a final sheet of development sketches exploring the style of of the characters with a visible line and 4 tonal colours. I think with a bit of work they would probably work much better for animation than my preferred style of painting that focuses on pushing the realism to what I can manage.


Dreamworks outreach Brief

The first brief I decided to tackle is for the Dreamworks outreach program. Essentially I have to create a iconic character as a child and an adult. I went with Marco Polo as I figured he would be as far out of my 'comfort zone' as I can get. Also Marco Polo doesn't really have an defining visual characteristics so I felt it would be much more challenging and therefore enlightening to try and depict him as a both a child and an adult.

The complete brief for this module is as follows:

Brief: Design 2 versions of an iconic character. One version should be the character as a child - between 5 -10 years old. The other version should be the same character as an adult.
Try to choose a character out of your personal ‘comfort zone’ – if you usually design sci-fi warriors/monsters – or young female characters – challenge yourself by choosing a different option for this project.

Choose from:

  • Merlin
  • Caliban (from The Tempest)
  • Bluebeard
  • Tinkerbell
  • Marco Polo
  • Wyatt Earp
  • Barbarella
  • Achilles
  • Maid Marion (from Robin Hood)
  • The Wolfman

After you have thoroughly researched your character's previous designs and iconography - and before you start working on your original design - write a brief description of the world your new versions of the character will inhabit. Create a mood board for yourself to refer to when considering details of anatomy/costume.
In particular, ask yourself these questions:

  • At what date is this character living?
You may design an updated version of a classic character or place the character in a new environment (eg: Marco Polo as a space explorer) - or keep to the appropriate historical period for him/her.

  • What are his/her/its prevailing weather/accommodation/lifestyle conditions?
How will this environment influence clothing/weapons/physique?

  • How will the environment affect the character’s appearance?
Example - in How to Train Your Dragon some of the key action sequences take place underwater - so aquatic dragons were also designed. The Avatar sequel also takes place under water - lots of interesting design possibilities there!

Remember that, although this is your original design - the character design should still be recognisable as the source character. 
Example - updated versions of Alice in Wonderland (there have recently been several) tend to reference iconic 'Alice' design elements such as long hair, blue dress, apron etc.
Note how leading character designers such as Iain McCaig reference costume elements from different cultures/historic periods to give sense of authenticity to futuristic designs (Queen Amidala/Jedi Knights).

If you choose to create a non-human character such as Caliban or the Wolfman make sure the anatomy - however fantastic - is believable - do thorough research before starting designs.