Monday, 28 January 2008

Pocahontas Modelling

Hi, here are just some of the steps I have taken to model Pocahontas. I decided to model her face part separately, as a mask, and parent to the head controller later. Similar to Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas. That way it should make the blend shapes easier. It's not the most detailed and sophisticated model I admit, but it should do for animation, and besides that's not what I am specialising in.

All that's left for her is to mirror, smooth and build some eyelids, teeth and tongue and, as a model, she'll be done.

Then Cornelius is next.

By the way, these are only temporary colours, I haven't decided yet.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

What I hope to do with the animation

I hope that I will have rigs that are capable of animating well. I am thinking of doing a few short animation tests, a walk cycle for each character and a short scene showing the characters interacting with each other (no dialogue obviously).

I was thinking for this scene that I could have Pocahontas mimicking Cornelius. Cornelius would be a bit perplexed about this and Pocahontas would be enjoying herself.

I have been thinking about the benchmarks that my work could be marked against. Any good animation and character design could form a good benchmark.

For the Character Design, I was thinking that Chris Sanders (Lilo and Stitch). If my character designs could evoke a child-like wonderment like his did in Lilo and Stitch I would be happy.

(These are taken from the Art of Chris Sanders website)

I also think the character designs of Stephen Silver (Kim Possible, Danny Phantom) are good too. He really uses life drawing well. (Taken from his blog)

Other people I admire are Craig McCracken, Bruce Timm, Chuck Jones and of course Fred Moore, the definative Mickey animator.

I was also thinking about Gromit and any of the character designs in that Tom Bancroft book I already mentioned. I have been using that to help me character design so his work in that should form a good benchmark.

For the animation, any good animation would do as a benchmark. If I could animate as good as Glen Keane does right here, I would be ecstatically happy.

This is an example of top quality animation done in a very short amount of time. Amazing.

Here is another example of just how great Glen Keane is.

Here are some more pencil tests. John Lounsbery, animation of King Louie and a dancing Bugs Bunny by Ken Harris.

Here is Andreas Deja, a great Disney animator, talking about the legend of Disney animation, Frank Thomas.

However, these seam rather lofty goals to reach. I, myself, would be ecstatically happy with a standard similar to the animation coming out of Les Gobelins.

These are the short of benchmarks I am setting for myself. I am not sure I will ever be able to achieve them but I will sure try.

Cornelius Model Sheets

Here are the Model Sheets for Cornelius. Personally, I am happy but not thrilled with the design, but this will have to do to keep on schedule. I think it gives off the air of a stuffy, sensible, middle-aged man so it is a success. He stands about nine heads tall (about 7 Maya units). For these, they were too big to fit on an A4 scanner so I had to scan them in bits, compose them in Paint and shrink them down. It came off quite well.

This top view was really quite difficult. It had to be scanned in and shrunk down.
I am planning, as I have previously stated, going to do a simple model and rig to start animating, and hopefully a more complicated one later on. Below is a size comparison between the two characters. this should give a idea of what it should look like later on.

Pocahontas Model Sheets

Here are the model sheets for Pocahontas. She stands about 2 and 1/2 heads tall (3 Maya Units). I am quite pleased with how her design turned out and I feel that she is very appealing.

The top view was a little bit more complicated to do, but I think I pulled it off.
I will use these model sheets to create a very quick, simple model and rig to start basic animating and I may do a more complicated model later on, for more complex animation.


Here are some of the Cornelius drawings I have done over the past week. These are quite early trying to get his character. In these below I tried to give him a cone head. It was funny but didn't quite seem like his character brief.

It can also get a bit creepy.
Now when I drew this round head below, something clicked and I really like it.
As I stated before, I thought it would be cool if I could put the logo for the City of London on his back. Here is an example of what it might look like.

He I was experimenting with that design, trying to get more of that Gromit look I was talking about.

I drew these to show what he might look from the front and the back.

These show the relationships between the characters of the happy, relaxed Pocahontas and the sensible, grumpy Cornelius.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Research for Cornelius


I am just going to put up a bit of research that I have collected to help me design Cornelius. He just wasn't clicking for me, and has had a wide variety of different designs based on him. After a couple of dead ends, I decided to rethink his design. His character description called for him to be civilised and sensible. Now who's sensible, Gromit. And he's Claymation, bonus. So I decided to examine him, and incorporate some of him in the design.I also thought of Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas, the sensible, grumpy old man that says blooming all the time. If I was a middle aged gorilla, having tourists look at me all day, I would be a bit grumpy too. So I decided to examine him as well.I thought it might be neat too, if he had a logo of London on him, so I thought it might be interesting if he had a mark on his back in the shape of the City of London Logo.
I will post the designs up soon, so I can get modelling.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Pocahontas Clothed

Here are some costume designs. I got my mum to help me with these, she is a clothes designer after all. I like the one on the top-left with the jeans and the frilly sleeveless top. She doesn't look too good in a skirt or shorts as it shows of her really thick ankles. A jumper looks too big on her, and I don't think she could show too much of her belly on a little girl, so the top-left one it is.
Here is the final design. Many of the poses here are taken from the Gorilla and Tarzan research I posted previously. I am really happy with these drawings, especially the ones on the page directly below. The design has really come together quickly, and it exudes this happy, relaxed little girl who wants to be a gorilla. I am pleased.

Now to just concentrate on Cornelius, I only have a week left for this in my production schedule and I haven't even thought about colour yet.


Well, here is my second attempt at Pocahontas. After that first drawing where I think she looks a little bit too gorilla like, I think I cracked it. She's cute, she looks natural both on two or four legs, and she looks like a relaxed and happy little girl. I am pleased with how this turned out. Problem now is, she's naked and I know nothing about little girl clothes.

I do know however, that I want a monkey design for her shirt. After some sketching, I think the one on the bottom right is the best.

New Research

I have spent many hours on Youtube finding new research. These are taken from a gorilla video I found at

The pictures of baby gorillas give a good indication of the proportions of Pocahontas' design but mostly this video was examined very closely to see how gorilla's moved. Key pictures were taken in the poses. Gorillas tend to walk flat-footed on their back legs, and their shoulders rotate forwards depending on which arm is outstretched. They usually only have one-foot of the ground at a time.

These are pictures from Tarzan pencil sketches, as seen on the Tarzan DVD. Here the animators were task with taking a gorilla action and transposing that into Tarzan. This is very similar to what I have to do with Pocahontas.

Not only is the Nightmare before Christmas a Stop-motion classic, but Sally's facial construction is not too dissimilar to the designs I am coming up with for Pocahontas. Sally is also very quiet and knowing in the film, similar to Pocahontas' character description. Examining her design and how she is constructed may help me with modelling Pocahontas later on.