Final Video of Lola

Here’s my final video of my 3D character, Lola:

Overall, I am pleased with how my character turned out. I feel that it looks good, especially considering that I am pretty much still a beginner at 3D modelling. I feel that the final product has turned out very similar to how I designed her originally (fig 1).

fig 1 – my original character design

I felt that my 2D design seemed to transform pretty well into 3D and I didn’t really have to change too many aspects of the original design. I did alter a few features, this included the hem of her dress – I originally designed it with a scalloped edge but ended up changing it to a very simple straight banded edge on my final design, this was because I found creating the scalloped edges quite hard. I also changed her tights into socks because when creating them I decided that the socks actually looked quite nice and that I preferred them.

In my original design, I only sketched out a very simple looking face as this was the appearance I was aiming for. When making the 3D model of her face, I stuck to this look but did end up giving the eyes slightly more detail and colour (including lilac coloured iris and some shadowing above her eyelid). This was because when I just made some 3D plain black eyes they almost looked a bit scary and didn’t seem to look right. I also altered her smile – in the 2D design, this is just a very basic smile which ended up not looking right when I did it in 3D, so, I decided to make some lips instead which looked much better. I also added a small heart detail on her witches hat, just because I thought it would look good. 

I have learnt lots more 3D design skills through creating my character. I did only use Maya when creating her, but I do feel like I have gained a lot more knowledge and confidence in using Maya and learnt lots of various methods in creating 3D models using Maya, a lot of this came from experimenting myself with the software but I also watched some Youtube tutorials to help me. 

References

ARTV_Tutorials (2016) Maya: simple character part 01 – Modeling [Video]. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzmg0grXHyE [Accessed 20/11/2020].

GGP_Animation (2019) Autodesk Maya | Curve warp deformer for toon style hair [Video]. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1E3VtkkjCM&t=86s [Accessed 23/11/2020].

Maya Sensei (2015) Maya modeling techniques – character clothes [Video]. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFzt2Xh2mTU [Accessed 29/11/2020].

Hermes, M (2016) How to model a Witch hat in Maya 2016 [Video]. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzEXHNDZY7Q&t=170s [Accessed 29/11/2020].

Autodesk (2019) Create a turntable animation. Available online: https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/maya/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2019/ENU/Maya-Animation/files/GUID-032237C3-B6E8-49CB-AC8F-F934F7049443-htm.html [Accessed 05/12/2020].

Screenshots – clothing and accessories design

To create the top part of Lolas dress, I first selected the relevant faces on the top part of her body and duplicated them. I then extruded them slightly so they were slightly raised off her body. I then added a lambert texture and selected a colour that matched well with the one from my original design.

Next, I created the skirt part of her dress. To do this, I selected the bottom edge from the top section which I had just created, I then extruded this down her legs and then altered the edges so they didn’t flare out as much.

To create her striped tights, I did this same method again of duplicating and extruding the faces on her legs. I then alternated with adding the purple and black textures to create the stripes effect.

Next, I created her shoes. Again, I duplicated the feet faces and then extruded them to make them bigger. To make the shape of them look more like shoes, I altered some of the vertexes around. I then added a blinn texture which gave a nice shine that I was after. I then added an off black shade to them. 

i then began creating her witches hat. i inserted a polygon cone shape and then scaled it taller. i added some more edges which then enabled me to then alter the rotation of the edges which made it a better shape at the top.

Once the top part of the hat was done, i deleted the bottom face and then extruded this new edge which created the brim of her hat. I then extruded the bottom section to make it thicker. I then used the same method I used to create her tights and created a striped texture on the hat.

I then resized and positioned the hat to fit her head well. I then decided to add a small purple heart decoration onto, I made this by altering the vertices on a basic polygon cube and then smoothed it.

I then made some buttons to add onto the dress from a polygon cylinder.

Finally, I made her collar by extruding the edge of the dress out. I then shaped it by moving the vertices around, and then smoothing it off to give the correct shape I was looking for. 

Screenshots – body and face construction

Here are some screenshots that I took during the process of creating my 3D character. I created her using Maya, this was mainly due to the fact that I already had some basic prior knowledge and experience of the software from year 1, and I felt that it would be better to create my character using something I am more familiar with.

My first task in creating my 3D character was to draw my characters basic body shape in a 2D form, I did this using procreate. I drew her from both the front and side directions in a T-Pose and then inserted this into Maya as an image plane. I feel that having a guideline to reference when creating my character was really helpful in ensuring I got the desired shape right, as opposed to if I just created it by eye.

Next I inserted a basic polygon cube and added more dimensions, I then moved it to match up with my image plane, and then moved the vertices to match up with the image as much as possible.

Here I extruded some selected faces to create the legs, I then angled these better and made them more tapered at the bottom by altering the scale.

I then extruded some side faces to create the arms and then, using the same method of moving the vertices, on both the side and front views I tried to make them a better shape. I also realised then that my image plane wasn’t as symmetrical as I would have liked, but this was okay as I had the symmetry setting on my object anyway which would make each side equal, so I mostly just focused on making the right hand side match up with my image plane. I also created the thumbs using this method of extruding faces.

Next I went back to the legs and again, using the extrude tool, created some basic foot shapes. I also altered the axis rotation on these to make sure they would stand flat on the floor.

I then smoothed the entire body which made it start to look much less blocky, and I spent some more time altering the vertices.

To then make what would be the neck, I added in some more edges around the area where it was going to be and deleted the faces that this created. I then extruded this new edge up ready to attach the head later on.

Here I am positioning the head ready to start sculpting it into a better shape.

Using the same method as what I used to create the body, I altered the vertices to match up with my image plane on both the front and side views.

I then smoothed the head, and attached it to the neck that I had already made by merging the vertices together.

I then focused on creating the various features of the face. Here I am creating the nose and eye sockets. For these, I just spent lots of time altering the various vertices by looking at the different perspectives and moving them. By this point, I turned off my image plane as I didn’t really add any detail regarding the facial features on this, and instead I just tried to create the features by sight and by looking at my initial 2D drawings of my characters face and trying to imaging how it would look 3D.

I then created the eye balls just by using a basic sphere polygon and inserted these into the sockets I had made, ensuring they were in the correct position.

Next, I attempted to create the hair for my character. I decided to use polygons instead of nhair to do this, this was mainly because I felt like this look would suit my stylised character better than using more realistic hair. To make the ‘strands’ of hair, I first created a curve that I placed onto the side of the head, I then created a polygon shape and altered and scaled the size of it until it was thin enough, I then attached this to the curve. Then, I kept duplicating these ‘strands’ and positioning them around the head.

I attempted to create some lips using the mesh that was already a part of the face, but it didn’t seem to look right so I decided to create some lips shapes from a polygon cube. I then smoothed these out and placed them onto my character. I then altered them slightly using the vertexes again to make the lips seem slightly more smiley.

After this, the next stage was also to add the colour to my character, which was fairly straight forward. I decided to utilise the colour tools on Maya and simply added specific colours to my character using colours close to the ones that I chose for my design in my colour design blogpost.

Description of accessories and poses

Accessories are an important aspect of character design, helping to portray the history, characteristics and personality of different characters. Many popular characters utilise accessories as part of their image, often becoming iconic visual elements of the character such as Mario’s hat (fig 1), Kiki’s bow and broom (fig 2), and Edna’s glasses (fig 3). These accessories have become iconic to the image of their characters. The characters wouldn’t be as instantly recognisable if they were absent.

fig 1

fig 2

fig 3

I decided to include some sort of accessory on my character, Lola. I experimented with some ideas that I thought would fit in well with my character, such as a witches hat, a wand, a hair bow and a broom (fig 4). After looking at my designs, I have settled on a witches hat for Lola. Though I do like the other ideas, I decided to use the hat because it helps the audience to easily identify her as a witch. I also feel that the hat compliments her clothes as well.

fig 4

I also need to consider what type of pose I’d like Lola to have, especially since I will be animating her. A characters pose is as important as their accessories, helping to show a characters personality and emotion. This is related to how posture and body language can give off different impressions. Some examples could include a shy character looking down and clutching their hands together in an awkward way, or how a bold, heroic type character might be stood very proudly with their hands on their hips. A good example of the use of body language within a villainous character can be seen in Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. His hunched posture and the position he is holding his hands seen in fig 5, helps to portray how he is cunning and untrustworthy.

fig 5

My character, Lola, is quite a shy character. I tried to convey this in her posture in how her hands hang down by her side, in a childlike, slightly unconfident way. Another idea I have considered for Lola’s postures is how they could characteristic her as being quite a clumsy person. As a younger child, she would often have a grazed knee from tripping up. More recently, she has cast a spell that made her her pet cat vanish. I have considered illustrating this absentmindedness through a pose where Lola has a shocked expression on her face and her hand over her mouth, almost if she was saying ‘oops’. I do like both of these designs, but I will most likely choose the more simplistic, shy pose for my final design.

fig 6

References:

fig 1 – Mariowiki (n.d.) Mario. Available online: https://www.mariowiki.com/Mario [Accessed 26/11/2020].

fig 2 – Fandom (n.d.) Kiki. Available online: https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/Kiki [Accessed 26/11/2020].

fig 3 – Fandom (n.d.) Edna Mode. Available online: https://pixar.fandom.com/wiki/Edna_Mode [Accessed 26/11/2020].

fig 5 – Fandom (n.d.) Charles Montgomery Burns. Available online: https://simpsons.fandom.com/wiki/Charles_Montgomery_Burns [Accessed 26/11/2020].

Description of colour design

Colour is an important aspect of character design. It can assist in reflecting the characters personality and also convey their emotions. This is linked to colour psychology, which is ‘a popular area of color theory that assigns emotional and psychological connotations between colors and emotions. Many of these meanings are universal because they have an effect on the brain but some are only cultural’ (London Image Institute, 2020). The same colour can have multiple connotations, being used to portray different emotions on different character designs. An example of a colour with more that one connotation is red. It may be used on villains, where the audience would perceive it as an angry colour, which is demonstrated on Captain Hook from Peter Pan (fig 1). Red could also be perceived as a bold and powerful colour in its use with the heroic character of Mr. Incredible (fig 2). Alternatively, red can also be seen as a passionate, sexual colour, as seen in its usage with the character of Betty Boop (fig 3).

fig 1

fig 2

fig 3

Anime character design is characterised by their use of different colours. They are usually adapted from predominantly black and white manga, where the only way they differentiate between different colours is by using different textures and patterns. This has resulted in anime character designs being well know for their liberal use of colours. This can be seen in the variety of hair colours, which more often use extravagant and unnatural colours (fig 4). This can be to convey different personalities and to help distinguish between the characters. Eye colours can also show an ‘outstanding amount of emotions. Eccentric eye colors (pink, violet, apple green) are common in characters with superpowers or who aren’t entirely human.’ (Juliao, n.d).

fig 4

For my character design, the use of colour is going to be fundamental. The colour combination for my final design must be harmonious and pleasant to look at. I chose a very simplistic, almost monogamous palette, but also incorporated more basic black and white shades into the design (see fig 5). I have always preferred using a simplistic colour selection in my artwork because I feel that utilising too many colours can look too complicated. I am inspired by the Illustrator, Dick Bruna, who, ‘used only a limited range of colours in his books’ (miffy.com, n.d.). Fig 6 is from one of Bruna’s books in which only five colours are used. I feel that this use of simplicity makes his work instantly recognisable, almost creating a signature aesthetic. It has also been said that the ‘best animation studios usually try to limit the colors down to three or four to keep it simple and effective’ (Dreamfarmstudios, n.d.).

fig 5

fig 6

After doing more research and learning more about different colour palettes and how they work, I decided to experiment on my character design using different colour palettes in an attempt to find one that would look the most appealing.

fig 7

Firstly, I tried a monochromatic palette. I used one main colour, in this case purple, and then used differing tones of it. It still looks similar to my original design in fig 1. However, I feel like this one looks too uniformly purple. I prefer how the white details on the design in fig 5 break up the different elements of the character design better. 

fig 8

Secondly, I tried an analogous colour palette. This is where colours within a similar orientation within the colour wheel are used. I do quite like this palette, though I feel that the colours are too bright for the look I am aiming for.

fig 9

Then I tried a complimentary colour palette. This is where colours from opposite ends of the colour wheel are used. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of this design, the red and green colours used creating connotations of Christmas. These colours would be perfect if Lola were written to be a Christmas elf. However, it is no longer immediately obvious from the colours used that my character is a witch.

fig 10

Next, I tried a split complimentary palette. This is where one main colour and two analogous colours are used. I do quite like this colour combination, and feel like the way in which I incorporated them into the design worked well together.

fig 11

Then I tried using a triadic colour palette. This is where colours at three equal distances on the colour wheel are used. I liked the hair and dress colours on this, as they compliment each other well. The design also reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. However, the inclusion of red in the tights does look very out of place.

fig 12

Finally, I tried a tetradic palette. This is where colours from four corners of the colour wheel are used. I actually quite liked how colourful this character design became. I could definitely imagine being used in a children’s TV show. I like how it mixes warm and cold tones whilst still looking aesthetically pleasing.

Overall, I thought that a lot of these colour palettes seemed too colourful for my character. Despite wanting my character to be cute and appeal to children, I still want her colour design to reflect the fact that she is a witch. I wanted to give it that gothic, witchy vibe with the use of darker and limited colours. Taking this into consideration, I feel that a more monochromatic colour palette would work best for her. I like the monochromatic design in fig 7, but would still take inspiration from my original design in fig 5 for my final character design. I prefer the use of more black shades included in that one. Although, I am aware that an overuse of black can have more negative connotations on an audience’s impression of the character. With this in mind, the use of pastel purple should hopefully balance it out. Purple is also said to be quite an ambitious colour, and is often used within heroic characters, it ‘is a prominent colour in Aladdin’s design’ (McGuire, 2017). This relates well to Lola’s narrative, as she is going to school to learn to be a witch. Despite her being quite nervous about her abilities, she still has ambition and wants to succeed at her career. Hopefully, my colour palette reflects my character well.

References:

London Image Institute (2020) Color psychology: how do colors affect mood and emotions? Available online: https://londonimageinstitute.com/how-to-empower-yourself-with-color-psychology/ [Accessed 18/11/2020].

Fig 1 – Fandom (n.d.) Captain Hook. Available online: https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/Captain_Hook [Accessed 18/11/2020].

Fig 2 – Fandom (n.d.) Mr Incredible. Available online: https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/Mr._Incredible [Accessed 18/11/2020].

Fig 3 – Milligan, M (2020) Animated ‘it girl’ Betty Boop turns 90 on August 9. Available online: https://www.animationmagazine.net/events/animated-it-girl-betty-boop-turns-90-on-august-9/ [Accessed 18/11/2020].

Fig 4 – Fandom (n.d.) Lucky star school mates. Available online: https://luckystar.fandom.com/wiki/School_Mates [Accessed 18/11/2020].

Juliao, D (n.d.) Anime: history and style. Available online: https://study.com/academy/lesson/anime-history-style.html [Accessed 18/11/2020].

miffy.com (n.d.) Special colours. Available online: https://www.miffy.com/special-colours [Accessed 18/11/2020].

Fig 6 – Bourton, L (2020) The everlasting charm of illustrator Dick Bruna’s Miffy. Available online: https://www.itsnicethat.com/features/dick-bruna-bruce-ingman-miffy-illustration-151020 [Accessed 18/11/2020].

Dream Farm Studios (n.d.) How colour theory can make or break a character design. Available online: https://dreamfarmstudios.com/blog/color-theory-for-character-design/#:~:text=As%20psychologists%20put%20it%3A,psychology%20throughout%20the%20design%20process. [Accessed 18/11/2020].

McGuire, S (2017) What Disney villains can tell us about colour psychology. Available online: https://venngage.com/blog/disney-villains/ [Accessed 18/11/2020].

all colour palettes created on procreate using colours generated in adobe colour cc: https://color.adobe.com/create

 

Body, style and personality

Body, style and personality are all very important factors within character design. They need to all work well together in order to create a memorable character. These factors all affect each other. The size and shape of the character can help to convey their personality and role. For example, a big, bulky shaped character could be viewed as intimidating or an angular shaped character could convey that the character is the villain in the story. This can be accomplished without relying on facial expressions and dialogue, ‘Shape language is a concept used in art and 3D animation to communicate meaning based on shapes we are familiar with. When used in character design, shapes can tell a story, show personality, and illicit an emotional response in the viewer without using any words.’ (Dreamfarmstudios, n.d.)

Lola design sketch front, back and side

For my character of Lola, I have used rounded shapes, especially in regards to the shape of her head. These shapes are seen ‘as safe and soft, on the contrary, angular shapes are warning for possible danger’ (Nikolaeva 2016) This relates well to my character as she is a kind and friendly character. She also is quite small sized, which not only helps to portray a childlike appearance but relates back to my research on Kawaii and Chibi style characters which come across as quite cute and innocent. The small size could also relate to the fact that Lola is quite a shy character.

The rounded shapes that make up my character

I decided to go for a simplistic design for my character. This is because I personally prefer this type of character design but also, owing to my limited and basic skills in 3D design, I didn’t want to produce anything too complicated for me to reproduce in 3D. My main inspiration for her overall body shape came from the Chibi character designs within anime (fig 1) and the character designs from Animal Crossing (fig 2), in particular the very basic hands, feet and hair. I feel like this simplistic style fits with the fact that my character is aimed at children. This will hopefully help the audience be able to connect with Lola well.

fig 1

fig 2

Lola’s overall style was informed by her being a Witch-In-Training. I gave her a dark, almost gothic style appearance, incorporating kawaii/J-fashion and the types of clothing seen in anime. My main objective throughout choosing her style was to keep her look cute and innocent in order to fit the demographic.

A ‘Character’s personality is a crucial part of creating engaging, believable and likeable designs. It is not enough to have [a] beautifully drafted character, but your audience should be able to relate to it and “connect”’ (Nikolaeva, 2016). Lola’s personality is quite shy and she is also quite clumsy sometimes. I am hoping that this will come across in my character design and that my target audience will be able to identify with her.

References:

Dreamfarmstudios (n.d.) Shape language in character design. Available online: https://dreamfarmstudios.com/blog/shape-language-in-character-design/ [Accessed 13/11/2020].

Nikolaeva, B (2016) How to convey character’s personality through shape, variance and size. Available online: https://graphicmama.com/blog/conveying-characters-personality/ [Accessed 13/11/2020].

fig 1 – Mayor Totoro (2020) Current fav outfits. Available online: https://mayor-totoro.tumblr.com/post/614158624997228544/current-fav-outfits [Accessed 29/10/2020].

fig 2 – Crunchyroll (2015) Is the order a rabbit?? wonderful party! limited edition comes with chibi chino figure. Available online: https://www.crunchyroll.com/en-gb/anime-news/2015/10/22/is-the-order-a-rabbit-wonderful-party-limited-edition-comes-with-chibi-chino-figure [Accessed 25/10/2020].

Character description in narrative terms

Characters are the main aspects within stories and understanding their backstory is a crucial point when creating an interesting character concept. Knowing the background information about a character can help in adding depth to their actions, present their personality well, define the plot better and help the viewer to connect with them.

To help develop my character, I created a backstory and added some more details about her. To help me with this, I also imagined her at various stages of her life (see below) – not only aesthetically, but also as a way for me to visualise her history and future. 

My character’s name is Lola. She is ten years old and she lives in the strange world of Wickermoore with her parents and pet black cat, Jet. Her favourite colour is lavender purple, just like her hair. She likes animals and baking cakes (and eating them too). She’s scared of spiders and doesn’t like when it rains.

In the strange world of Wickermoore, everyone has a specific magical power that determines what your career choice will be. They all have to go to school to learn skills on how to use their abilities properly. Lola’s power is in witchcraft and she’s just joined the school. She will be a Witch-In-Training for a few years until she is able to graduate and become a Full-Time witch. Her best friend at her new school is Peggy, the Pirate-In-Training.

Lola can be quite clumsy, which her parents realised when Lola was around the age of 5 and would always seem to have a grazed knee. This was also around the same time as her magical powers were starting to manifest.

Lola is quite shy and doesn’t have much confidence. She doesn’t believe she’ll be able to make it as a witch, but everyone around her is very encouraging when she is too critical of herself. She’s already attempted some magic at home herself, but it never really goes according to plan. She tried to cast a spell on her cat, Jet. Somehow, it made him vanish and she needs to learn how to get him back before her mum and dad realise that he is missing. Despite her magic not always going very well, Lola will graduate with flying colours (and finally grow into her hat) and she will eventually become a freelance witch.