conceptualizing an animation style character – Maid Marian

During a previous post I showed some of these pieces and talked briefly about trying a hand at animation styles. You can also find them in my character design portfolio. I thought I’d expand a little upon it, as I have new work for the project to show. Apologies if any of this is repetitious.

My inspiration came from the 1982 animated film, The Last Unicorn, during which there is a scene where one of our main characters, the wizard Schmendrick, conjures up a vision of Robin Hood and his Merry Men for a bunch of outlaws who try hard (and fail) to pattern themselves after the legendary hero. The outcome is NOT great (Schmendrick ends up tied to a tree in one of my favorite scenes in the film) but it’s the first time he’s able to actually produce magic. YAY.

I loved the idea of an animated Robin Hood story done in a style somewhat like The Last Unicorn’s and thought I’d at least start with developing our favorite lady, Maid Marian. Here’s where I started off. maidMarianSkinHairColors

I love her in all of the skin tones and hair colors but she’s usually a straight-up brunette or auburn-haired, so I decided I’d move forward with that. I have a degree in fashion design before I went to Gnomon to study entertainment art and modeling, and one of my favorite things to do when I still worked in fashion was drawing “flats”, or flat technical drawings of garments that show off the pattern shapes and all of the details effectively. Flats are symmetrical, but essentially I applied the same idea. And yes, I freakin’ love paper dolls.

maidMarianCostumeFlats

Once you get started, it’s easier to keep going with these because you can just build new pieces off of the ones you already have – much like when in fashion we were creating flats in Illustrator. You can create libraries of collars, sleeves, necklines, skirts, and just stitch and Frankenstein them together to save yourself time. But in my case here, because I created these on independent layers, not only can I easily change the colors (the line art, base color and shading colors are all separate) now I can also have fun playing dress up!

maidMarianCostumes3

I would love to figure out the programming behind making a dress-up app, but let’s just hope one day I’ll be in the position of paying someone who already knows how to do it to do the back end so I can just focus on the content. I enjoyed this so much, it felt like a great piece for my portfolio when applying to animation studios so I decided I needed to do a series of expressions. On my Facebook page I asked friends to give me an emotion or mood, and then I drew it. Much the same as the clothing, once you get started you can keep building off the facial features you’ve built up – for example, once I had her with wide eyes, it worked for a lot of expressions.

maidMarianFaces

My favorite is still the eye roll. And I finally got around to drawing that goblet I imagined the costumed lady version of Marian would be holding. During this project, I realized I wanted to model her, too. I think seeing it fully realized in 3D would be so fun, and though I am not the best at texturing, I could polypaint her in ZBrush. The idea of 3D printing the finished model is also extremely exciting, and since I have been practicing setting up good topology in Maya and then detailing in ZBrush on simpler models (I recently and FINLLY got my feet wet and 3D printed a little wooden log haha) I kept thinking a lot about which program I wanted to start her in. In the end, ZBrush won out since I have more experience in character work in it and basically none in Maya. I did, however, spend a lot of time when taking her out of Dynamesh on getting ZRemesher to give me some quite decent topology. Hopefully it stands up when I get to printing her.

I also took it to Facebook to see which costume everyone liked best and there were a lot of differing opinions, but I liked how she feels identifiable in her Robin Hood outlaw outfit. So I needed a turnaround.

maidMarianTurnaround

And because I would be sculpting the clothing as subtools, I needed a quick sideview of her naked. I decided not to spend anymore time on creating a symmetrical front view because I felt confident I could figure it out from the asymmetric, slight 3/4 one I had. The side view doesn’t have the most elegant shading, but it’s really just quick and dirty production art that served a very, very helpful purpose.

maidMarianNakedFront-Side

That essentially is the whole development process behind the character. The sculpt isn’t finished yet, and frankly, I’ve just begun (about 5-6 hours in), but all this early work has helped immensely. Now it’s just putting in the hours. I may also use her as another guinea pig for Marvelous Designer, and get a good base for her clothes that I can detail in ZBrush. Here’s her progress so far.

MaidMarianScreenshot5-18

 

I will certainly update as she gets further along, but for now hope you enjoyed this post! Thanks for reading!

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