Friday, 10 February 2012

Reef Character Visual Design Project

This is just a quick summing up of this project now that's coming to an end, I'm just completing my sculpey model of my finished character. Initially with this project I had some strong ideas and was quite eager to get started. The task seemed quite open in terms of which direction we could take the character, the key word given to us being 'humanoid', which said to me something which has 'human' form (ie, a head, two legs, tow arms etc) but dosn't necessarily have to appear human.  A few of my peers didn't seem to like the openness of the project being given, I cant see why myself, to me this meant the results would be much more diverse and most importantly in no way wrong, the actual process of our design seemed the most important thing. My initial idea then was to create a more stylised character, thinking more along the lines of Pixar and Dreamworks, I decided to do this as my vehicle design project was taken with a more sensible and practical approach.

Thinking along the line of 'reef' my first thoughts included bright colours, warm climates, clear waters, sandy beaches, the Caribbean, sea life. As I wanted my character to be taken with a stylised approach I felt it needed to have some sort of overall image and personality and after spending some time in DMU library I settled upon the idea of creating a 'Rasta-man', 'Rastafarian' character. Here was my big problem, I had instantly settled on ideas, I brought together some strong mood boards and imagery, but I had to clear an image of how I wanted my character to look in the end which I now see completely stunned all of my conceptuality and design from the word go. I immediately began designing my final vision which is completely stupid, I came up with some sort of turtle/ old, decrepit Rasta-man character which was quite frankly crap. I was too busy trying to put all of my thoughts into one final image straight away without any prior concepting and it was going completely wrong, I didn't just want a human with bits of coral attached to it or a sea creature stood on two legs but I kept arriving at the latter and it wasn't what I wanted. Again, the problem was clear, the images and ideas of where I wanted to take the character where too strong and that includes what I had in mind for storyboarding and it was wasn't taking me anywhere exciting as it wasn't giving me anything that I wasn't expecting.

 The character wasn't what I wanted, and for me personally it didn't seem to 'fit' into any specific game genre so therefore wasn't suitable. I decided to back to the drawing board and start from scratch employing some of the techniques that we were shown at Mitch Small's initial concepting lecture, I started with a human form silhouette and began to work into quickly and without much thought for the final outcome. These concepts were much more open for a final direction and I settled on one in particular and began putting together a mood board to use for working towards a final. I had now begun to take a completely different approach in terms of the characters 'style'. Going from a cartoon-ish feel to a much more real, horror/ enemy feel, the whole thing felt like it would be accepted much easier into a game environment. In the end I settled upon a fish-skeleton/ monster type character, the idea was more of a twist on my initial thoughts on 'reef' in terms of colour and a sense of calm, this character was more of a 'risen-dead' from the dark, colourless depths of the ocean, the idea that the character didn't belong was kind of unsettling and I was pleased with the results.

Overall I admit that I didn't really enjoy the project. I don't know whether that is because I'm not very keen on the idea of character artist or because the whole approach was new and it meant the project was more difficult in terms of finding my way. What I do know is that if I were to do the project again I would employ some of the techniques I have learnt in this project, which would make the process easier and in turn probably more enjoyable. I certainly hope to do another character design project before completely disregarding the idea of character artist, at the end of the day the chance now to explore new grounds, probably get them wrong, but not have to worry is probably a chance I wont likely get again.

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