Monday, 14 February 2011

Mail Man Expression Sheet

Here is a Final Expression sheet for the Mail man character 'Roy'. The expressions were chosen to represent the Mail man's emotions throughout different parts of the film.

When constructing the final puppet the plan is to use replaceable sections of the face to change the characters expression. The face will be divided across the eyes into two sections, the upper brow and the lower mouth, nose and chin. The interchangeable brow and mouth parts will be sculpted in different expressions. For example, for the brow I will need angry, shocked and neutral sculpted brow replacements. And for the mouths I will need open, shocked , whistling, smiling, worried etc to make up a whole range of expressions for the character.

Dressing Room Design

Here is an update on the Actress's dressing room design from Nathan. This design is to help us get an idea of the colour scheme for the room, sticking with the idea that the room should feel bright and heavenly. It also helps to rough out the positions of important items in the room such as the mirror, radio, pile of gifts and red stage calling light. Now that the storyboards are finished it has become apparent that some items need moving around, but overall we're happy with this design.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Background Designs- Stage Door/ Alleyway

After we were happy with the Alleyway and dressing room colour tests we decided to continue working on the background designs, adding more details to better illustrate how the sets will look on camera. Together we decided that I will design the Stage door/ Alleyway and Nathan will work on the Actress's dressing room.
I started off with a rough pencil drawing, blocking out building shapes and laying out where I wanted certain objects to be, the main focus being the stage door and mail shoot. I then started digitally painting the sky using my Hollywood reference pictures as a guide. It's just before 7pm in the film so the sun is setting in the distance.

Next, I started blocking in colours for the buildings, trying to avoid too many boring grey or brown colours. I wanted the alleyway to be dark, with the stage door light illuminated, but not so dark that it's hard to make out what your looking at.

Once I was happy with the colours of the image I began adding more textures and building details such as brickwork. I did this by creating a small section of a brick pattern which I then warped to match the perspective of the walls. This pattern was then repeated until a whole section of wall was covered.
To finish the design I added more detail to the mail truck, garbage bags and stage door. I also tried to suggest how lighting might be used in the set to create atmosphere.

 Here are some images of the alleyway design with my final Mail man design in situ.

When we eventually build this set we plan to only build the front portion of the alleyway to include the stage door, mail shoot and garbage bags. The rest will be added digitally using green screen techniques to extend the set, creating the long alleyway and sunset sky. 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Background designs- colour tests

Now that the designs for the characters are more or less finished, I've decided to start working on the locations and background art. Since this is a stop motion film, all the backgrounds will at some point have to be built as 3D sets, so it's important that I take into consideration how the final set will be constructed from the 2D designs. The staging is very important and I must be careful not to design anything that will be too difficult to build, or go too crazy with the number of locations. However, I don't won't to restrict the design too much or the film will suffer. There are shots and locations in the film that would be extremely difficult to build as a full set (unless I was working with a large budget...which I'm not.) So instead I'll be using green screen techniques to extend certain sets, making the world in my animation seem that little bit bigger.

Here some story board panels featuring two set locations we've been working on.
The first panel features the Alleyway around the back of the theatre. This is the first location in the film and where we first meet the mail man delivering the package through the mail shoot next to the stage door.

This panel features the actress 'Elle's' dressing room, where the package finally ends up and where the films dramatic conclusion takes place.
I decided to make some rough tests of the two locations to get an idea of the lighting/colour schemes to suggest how the sets might appear on screen.
For the actress's dressing room on the left, I wanted to use bright, calming colours, matching the actress's design to suggest a heavenly feel. The idea is that once the mail man finally reaches the dressing room to retrieve the package, there is a great sense of relief and peace,he is given a glimpse of heaven before he is thrown out.

The stage door/alley way was designed to contrast the glamorous theatre front and interior. The film takes place just before 7pm so the sun would be setting. The alleyway is dark and filled with trash cans and garbage bags partially lit by the single light over the stage door.

Here are the rough background colour designs with the final character designs. The backgrounds are too abstract to represent a proper in situ shot, instead these images are just to get an idea of how the colours work with the characters.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Character line up

Nathan has been working on the Little Old lady character and produced a design which we're both very happy with. The Old lady won't feature in the film very much but we thought we'd create a maquette of the character anyway since her design is so different from the other characters and we though she'd be fun to make. After coming up with a number of different designs, Nathan finally produced something we were both happy with, perfectly capturing how we imagined the character to be. Below are a few turn around images of Nathan's sculpt.
The Little old lady is a lot smaller than the other characters and has been sculpted as though she is looking up at the mail man, squinting through her large framed glasses with a sweet smile on her face. when her puppet is made, It won't have to be as advanced as that of the other characters since she is only really required to stand there, staring at the mail man. The gag is that she beats him to the upper floor using the elevator, as far as animation she'll only need to do a little wave and maybe have a sleight shake as she stands.
Here are her final designs, digitally coloured by Nathan.
We've given the old lady some bright, pastel coloured 1950's style clothing. Her clothes really make her stand out, The idea was than she doesn't really understand the current (1950's) fashion trends, but she's out enjoying a night at the theatre and she's dressed to impress.   Here are the the final digitally coloured designs for the theatre usher.

I've decided to add a rolled up tissue to his broken nose. The idea is that while breathing angrily, every time he exhales his nose now makes a whistling noise. This noise can now be used as a sign that the character is approaching, almost in the same way the Jaws theme means a shark is coming. This should be effective near the end of the film when the Usher creeps up behind the Mail man.  Finally, here is a character line up image featuring all the sculpted designs side by side and in scale.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Design Development- Theatre Usher

Along with our main characters, 'Roy' the Mail Man and 'Elle' the actress, our film will also include a number of secondary characters. One of these characters is a large, tough looking Theatre Usher taking tickets at the door. He will become one of the obstacles stopping the Mail Man from reaching Elle's dressing room to retrieve the package. Below are a few inital designs for the character along with an early sculpt of the characters head.
The idea is to make this character much bigger than the mail man with a strong blocky figure.Since he's the main obsticle, his rectangular body would litterally take up a doorway. One of the gags in the film is thatthe mail man, in his rush for the package, hits the usher in the face with a door. The usher's cigar a crushed into his face and his nose is flatterned. Most of these designs feature the usher with his flattered nose since thats the way it stays throughout most of the film.
The sculpt of the usher in the image above is only aproximatly 2 inches high. His full body maquette wasn't built to scale with the other characters because he would have been too large and taken up too much time. Instead I chose to only sculpt the characters head to the correct scale and then digitally add it to the smaller 2 inch sculpt in order to develope a digital final design. Below is a turn around image for the usher, featureing the full scale head andded to the 2 inch sculpt.
From these images I will digitally paint the sculpt in a similar way to the other maquettes, only this time I will re-scale the sculpt to it's intended size for the character line up.
 Other characters in the film include a little old lady, a small boy with a paddle ball toy and a bar tender with a cocktail shaker.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Final Designs- Mail Man & Actress Maquettes

Here are the final designs for the Mail Man and Actress characters. The images below have been created by digitally painting the sculpts. First up. the final design produced from my Mail man maquette.
And here's a mid shot to show the face a bit clearer.
After making a few colour tests we decided to give him a Navy blue uniform with a few hints of red and brass/gold details, sticking close to what our 1950's Mail man reference provided.
Here is the Final design I coloured produced from Nathan's Actress sculpt.

These images have allow us to add more details to the sculpts such as the mail mans uniform buttons and the actress's diamond earrings. Using different texture tools we can also suggest the types of material that would work best for the puppets. Finally, here is a shot of the two characters together.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Actress Designs- The progression of 'Elle'

Here are a few initial design sketches I produced for the Actress character 'Elle'
We decided upon the name 'Elle' because it's short, simple and easy to remember. This a handy since the audience needs to quickly read the name from the tag on the package and then recognise it on the large theatre billboard later on. It's also a somewhat unique name and I like the idea of this character being so famous that she doesn't even need a second name, she is simply know to the world as Elle. oh... and it's also French for 'she'!
Here are some colour tests I produced for the character. The idea is to keep the colour scheme for her and her dressing room very light with bright colours giving her an almost angelic and heavenly feel. Nathan has been in charge of producing the designs and sculpt for this character. Here are a few pics of his finished sculpt.
From the photographs of this sculpt I'm going to produce a digitally coloured test for the actress to go with the tests for my Mail man sculpt.

Initial Story Boards

Together my brother and I have been putting together a rough story board for our film currently titled 'Opening Night'.
Here are some sample panels from our initial story boards.
Together we pitched our idea to our tutors and other people on our course in a 'sweatbox' session.
Thankfully the overall response was positive, However it has become clear the ending needs more work in order to give the audience a more satisfying conclusion between the Mail man and Actress characters. A title scene and a few opening shots also need to be added. From here we will produce a rough animatic by loading the panels into premiere to edit a rough version of our film with timings and temp sound effects.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Finished Maquette - Mail Man

Here are a some turn around images of the finished Mail Man maquette.
There are a few details missing from the sculpt but over all I'm pleased with the with the way it has turned out. Using these images I can now start working on colouring the character digitally to see what works best.
Nathan has also been finished working on a maquette of the Actress character. Here is a shot of the two sculpts side by side for a scale comparison.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Character Design- Mail Man

Between my brother and I, we have decided that I will concentrate on designing the Mail man, and Nathan will design the actress. We plan to produce sketched designs, colour tests and fully sculpted Maquettes.
Throughout the stages of designing the characters we'll consult with each other to make sure we're both happy with the designs and that they're the best we can make them. They also need to work well with each other with a consistent style so that they look like they belong in the same universe.

Here are a few rough design sketches for the Mail Man. Many of these sketches are trying to capture the look of horror on his face after he realises be may have just delivered a bomb.

The designs on this next page are closer to the characters final design. He will will be dressed in a blue mail uniform and have a leather satchel and hat. I thought a slender figure would work well with this character since he will be frantically moving about in the film trying to recover the bomb. The long limbs will help to exaggerate his movements.
The sculpted portrait above was sculpted to see how the designs works in 3D. The sculpt is larger than what the final puppet's head will turn out to be. I  have also started working on a full body maquette of the character which will be sculpted to the correct scale of the final puppet. I find maquettes very useful when designing characters, especially for stop motion, since the characters have to work in the 3rd dimension. They're also very useful to help judge the scale and volume of the final puppets and sets.
Here are the beginnings of the sculpt. aprox 11 inches tall, plasticine.

and finally, a shot of the Mail Man sculpt next to Nathan's Actress sculpt. Work in progress.