Early work Portfolio in 3D animation and design PART 1

No... not my early work  -anything but that master.

No. not my early work – anything but that master.

I am a student at Noroff University in Norway, and as part of the final we are required to do a minute long video of some of our prior work. This was a bit of a task because when I look back even 6 months I’m kind of overwhelmed by the sheer amount of time and effort that went into every single piece, many of which result only in a single picture or a very short clip. This ultimately brings me to two places:
The first: The place that shockingly and nauseatingly realizes that all that time, tears and isolationism for…THAT???
the second: a place of very careful, very resigned pride.

As an exclusively 2d artist in the past, learning the methods required even to make the simplest of things was overwhelming. In retrospect, it wasn’t as hard as I was so convinced it was at the time, I just think my mind was resisting the change in ‘spatiality’ – and resisted it violently.

Since then my understanding and execution has become alot more streamlined and I have since tidied up the work I am presenting, but like in other mediums of the arts, it never feels done and in reality will continue to be a work in progress until the day I die, just like everything else I’ve ever done.
It can always be better.

(A pretty quick and poorly done design of what I was going for)

From the original report:
Banjo and Trout : Upholding the Tenets of Chairman Meow

Little Gray Cat (That's his actual name)

Little Gray Cat (That’s his actual name)

**I based the design off of this semi stray cat that comes to my house all the time. It has to be the friendliest and most beautiful cat in the world, but when you touch her she’s actually full of mats and brambles. I don’t know what to call her so for the past year she’s just been referred to as ‘Little Gray Cat’ and she actually responds to that name. She’s the most feminine cat I’ve ever encountered too, she’s always hitting on my male cats, which was cute until I found out that it was a boy.

How he/she/it became a communist handbag replica manufacturer that hits foreigners with a giant dead trout is beyond me, it just sort of happened.

Bingo is a communist (who is also an entrepreneur, yet fails to appreciate the irony of this.) I really love East Asian politics and history so I based a lot of it around that. I also used to authenticate luxury handbags for a company and that’s where I ended up learning a lot about the manufacturing process and politics of the replica handbag trade in Guangzhou. Banjo’s mentality is very much on par with that of Mainlanders in China, a weird communist/capitalist hybrid, full of contradictions but still very charming and strong.
Her devotion to the teachings of Chairman Meow are of course a nod to China’s now deceased Mao Zedong there are so many Chinese who still love him to death, he’s still considered a hero, though they will admit ‘mistakes were made’. I really find the odd dynamics and mentality in China to be really unique so I wanted to caricaturize it a bit. It may be seen a negative commentary on their system – it’s not, it’s just a parody. **

Moodboard for Bingo and Trout

Moodboard for Bingo and Trout

While I was tempted to make something more realistic, I felt that a truly punchy looking, iconic character, something akin to a Pokemon or Hello Kitty, two of the most successful simple character design projects of all time, would be more interesting and possibly more successful.

I was still having a hard time making the jump from 2d to 3d and that more specifically I would literally stop myself physically reaching into the screen when using sculpting programs instead of using commands because…I needed to feel it, to interact with in order to make sense of it.
Instead of whining about it I decided to take out the modelers’ clay and just make a huge honkin’ sculpture (33 cm high) of it by hand, I thought maybe then I would have a more intimate relationship with the form and could better make the transition. The fact I have close to zero experience with sculpting was a none issue – I needed to understand what it was, who it was- before I could make it a program like Maya.

Breakdown of sculpting process

Breakdown of sculpting process

(He was made with a wireframe, styrofoam for the main body bulk and head and a lot of clay, even though he’s not 100% clay he’s still ridiculously heavy)
As such I highly recommend anyone who is having difficulty making the transition from 2d
to 3d to start sculpting, first in 2.5D like relief sculptures, then full 3d, it makes the leap all the more enjoyable and you get to hone yet another skill at the same time.

The modeling process was as such, pain free and I had little complications. We started the first week on the head and since it was a simple enough silhouette I was able to get it to a place I liked and was ready to move on.

Notice the tiny Hammer and Sickle collar.

Notice the tiny Hammer and Sickle collar.

Later on I modeled the remainder of the body and textured it, along with Bingo friend Trout. The challenge with Trout was that I wanted him to be much more realistic than his friend. I wanted it to be clear that he was no cute, loving dead fish but rather a very real, very ripe deceased piece of carrion. Why? I don’t know, I think polarization, dynamics and fish are just the funniest things to be found on this planet.

(Trout is removable on the actual sculpture, his tail hooks around Bingos’ outstretched arm)

Knowing this when modeling him in Maya I kept his form as realistic as possible and using a texture that catches the light the way real fish scales do and most importantly the dead milky eyes..I used the lattice tool to create physical, movable eyes – I did the same for Bingo– it worked quite ‘swimmingly’ (…ugh…terrible). Seeing as Trout is dead, I don’t imagine he would be doing much facial gesticulation – I did add fins that I would imagine would flap limply about as he is careened in the air like a nautical baseball bat only serving to underline the deep meaninglessness of both his life and death. I tried keeping the edgeloops and construction as clean and economical as possible while still keeping everything together.

Where even am I?

‘Margaret, I think I left the stove on.’

While the texturing of Trout went rather well, the same couldn’t be said of Bingo. I textured them by hand in photoshop hoping to get a bright, iconic cartoony look – but it was all for naught. I hated it, It looked ridiculous and nothing like I wanted. I started looking into the production process of modern anime which is almost exclusively done in 3d programs and then post processed to look like 2d. I imagined that there must be a process that could maintain the cartoon aspect of the design without having to physically draw-in bold black lines on every frame. Later I found a tutorial which explained one of the methods of creating the look in 3d, specifically in the borderlands style which I ended up using in a later project, which turned out quite nicely. I also redid the textures in mudbox and gave Bingo a much needed rhinoplasty and face lift. It ended up taking the model :

From this:

To this:

I’m much more happy with the results but as mentioned, it will probably be tweaked over the years and hopefully he/she/it will be something I will be proud to animate in the future.

Here is a video rundown of the process:





Read Part 2! https://submarinesandcatnoses.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/early-work-portfolio-in-3d-animation-and-design-part-2/



2 thoughts on “Early work Portfolio in 3D animation and design PART 1

  1. OMG I just about fell out of my seat when I saw the mood board. “No Fancy Feast until ALL can Fancy Feast!” I think I’m going to start shouting that at people randomly in the streets. Great thing about Montreal. People just DO that.

    Liked by 1 person

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