Spark Castle Upshot
Christo | River Crossing
1. We knew we wanted something in the woods so we went to the woods! This image started outside painting digitally from life like we often do on the weekends. We picked this spot because of the variety of textures, rocks, trees, water, as well as the good contrast that was naturally happening between the light foam and the dark rocks.
2. Once taken back to the studio we set to styling the shapes and designing a more simple composition than the one in the photo. For us this involves making broad sweeping shapes that have rhythm with each other and that guide your eye around the image without letting any individual element grab too much attention if it’s not a focal point.
3. After the background was essentially worked out we set to designing the characters. In this case the character, Christo, was already designed so it was just a matter of posing and rendering him. For a cartoon style character we tend to start with crisp one-color silhouettes and the slowly add the layers or form rendering and lighting. This process keeps the design clean, organized and allows for iterations.
Christo's Rock | A Photo Beginning
1. It all started with an excellent photo that we wanted to style and shape to our needs. The fog and colors were great but the shapes and textures could have been simpler and cleaner for our purposes. The first step for us was makes notes about what we wanted to add, change or keep the same.
2. This graphic representation of the photo shows the shape design choices that were made and why. The big change was the large rock. We wanted to give it some dramatic overhang to give it a precarious feel but we also leaned it a bit to the left to make sure it still felt like it could balance.
3. The final images underwent a bit of back and forth on the lighting and in the end we decided on having some patchy light coming through the clouds and giving the fog a bit of styling. Then of course we added a character for scale.
4. For this image we built a quick 3-D blockmesh to test our ideas. Because the modeling is super quick and sloppy we are able to focus entirely on the shapes and arrangement of the elements. With this the modeler had a 3D sketch to go off that gave them some thought to how the shapes may actually work in a 3D space.
The Civilized Process | Designing Christo
1. We started old school on this character by literally going back to the drawing board, pencil on actual paper! The goal was to make Christo civilized, maybe slightly effeminate but still badass in way that a kid would think he was COOL.
2. After finalizing the design we thought it would be interesting to see how the exact same character would be treated differently if rendered for a cell shaded 2D style vs. 3D animated feature style. It was surprising to us to see how little of the personality changed.
3. At end we built a style guide to explain to the modelers WHY certain design decisions were made to maintain the simplicity. As anyone who was worked in production will tell you, the biggest potential pitfall for characters created in this style is that they quickly become overly detailed… and it’s takes discipline to keep them simple in every aspect.