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!

character design

I’ve been working on a bunch of new character designs lately, all in various stages of completion. I had a lovely experience recently doing a few illustrations for a toy client, DEFINITELY a dream client, and I had a great time, got to work on some great properties and learned a lot from a terrific art director. Nothing quite inspires one like getting a good opportunity, so I’ve been trying to keep up lots of personal work.

First off, I found this again today:

face studies14SM

Three faces, three ways – pseudo-realistic, comic, Disneyish…I’d like to think I’ve come a long way even since this, but it was a fun exercise and I still like ’em. Plus REDHEADS.

Recently, I’ve been adding work to the galleries, more often than I’ve been updating this. I have to say, I also have been enjoying ArtStation way more than my own website….eep, it’s true! Anyway, I’ve been having a ton of fun practicing a toonier approach to character design (though rest assured, I also have a painting or two in the works).

When I designed this Maid Marian character, I was thinking about what it would be like if there actually WAS a Robin Hood done in the style of The Last Unicorn. As you may remember, there’s a part in the beautifully animated tale (and of course, the phenomenal book) when Schmendrick creates more of his zany, one-day-I-will-be-a-genius-sorceror-I-swear magic (which is true) and summons a vision of Robin Hood, Marian, and the Merry Men, to Captain Cully’s dismay (resulting in the amazing boob tree scene, I KNOW). I mean, his outlaws were doing so well what with that 4-day rat soup and the mention of tacos. I loved the look of those Rankin/Bass films with all their amaze-balls Japanese animators doing a slightly more western style, so here is MY Lady Marian.

maidMarianCostumes3

maidMarianSkinHairColors

maidMarianCostumeFlats

I have a Bachelors in Fashion Design, which maybe I don’t talk about enough. Drawing flats was one of my favorite things when an assistant designer, so when I was creating Marian’s looks it was important to me that each piece still be a complete object. Also, I have several of these ALMOST paper doll projects, so I really need to turn one into an actual working doll with the tabs and slits.

So I’ll leave you with one more design here, but again will remind you that there’s more updates in the galleries. I can’t always be trusted to post about them all, though I will try!

This little lady is from an animation class. Honestly, I hadn’t quite considered when I wanted to draw a deer girl, that I was, in fact, designing a furry. So, apparently that happened, but you know, we could just forget the whole furry phenomenon and remember that the Greeks invented things like satyrs, and that was perfectly respectable material for artists prior to the internet and poorly drawn anime, okay?

deerMaid

smug smugglers WIP

smuggler figures

smuggler silhouettes

I really want to push my portfolio to include more sci-fi and feel more varied (also why I’ve been lately trying to do some more cartooning) so started sketching some faces, silhouettes and clothing ideas one day. I picked out these two guys to take forward and had to sit on this a bit longer than usual to figure out what’s next.  They aren’t finished but got a little stuck here for a while.

Things feel like they’re flowing again so they should now be finished soon and I think I’m going to add a frame around the guys to work on a little materials indication of leather/metal/whatnot and to have a decorative element to the piece without adding much to the background. :D

16th-century sci-fi

Ctrowbridge_16thcentury_sci-fi_characters72

Here are the last sketches I posted all colored in. :)

So…little backstory…the White Queen-sort of figure is a bit of an antagonist (but certainly not the main bad guy in the story) and has a smoldering past with the dude with the glowing blue laser filigreed gun thingy slung over his back…a smoldering past that burnt the shit out of them both.  But now it’s been at least a decade since the ANGST. So it’s just nice and awkward.  Also, she IS a queen.

The other dude gets along with everyone, so really, he’s pretty set.

Costume drawing final

costume final design

Here is a very Sky Doll-inspired costume design I did for my final project in Costume Figure Drawing with Charles Hu (at Gnomon – wheeee! very fun class!).  It’s a mash-up of evil queens, Renaissance/Elizabethan, Chinese wedding headdresses, sci-fi and such and was a preeeeeetty awesome open final project.

If you’re not familiar with Sky Doll, it’s a fantastic Franco-Belgian comic by the amazing team Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa BUT Marvel also translated it into English.  If you like comics with amazing art and colors, then I think you might like it.

mermaid time again

mermaidsig

mermaidsketch

They never get old.

Sketch from my sketchbook was cleaned up and recolored in Photoshop, then colored away!  Honestly, the anatomy positioning of the mermaid is total crap (sooooo wooden), but it was fun to color and I still like how it came out.

class sketch

Week 1 main sketch

This was done for week one of Tim McBurnie’s Drawing for Comics class that I’m taking right now. I’d like to fix up a few things on this sketch, clean it up and put in some color eventually.

It’s of dear Anne, of course, riding her horse and looking haughty. I’m taking the class to focus on my pet project a bit more and so far it’s awesome.