WIP | Atlantis | Character and Environment Design


Recently in college, we were tasked with pulling together a design package for a story based on "My Irish Myth." We were given the choice of working on a story that we're creating in groups (more on this later) or a new story of our own choice. I decided to go with a new story; The Lost City of Atlantis. It's not a "traditional" Irish myth, certainly, but there are some people who believe the city of Atlantis sank off the coast of the Emerald Isle, it's one of the best known myths globally, and it's one of my personal favourite legends, so I thought it suited the theme. At this stage, it's very much still a work in progress, but I'm having a bit of fun with it, and because it's St Patrick's Day, I wanted to write about something at least vaguely influenced by my culture. And so, today, I want to introduce to you the first character I've designed for the The Lost City of Atlantis (but with an Irish twang). 



This character is called Síofra (she-o-fra), which means elf or sprite. I'm still fleshing out the real spirit of her character, but at the moment at least, she's a mischievous Atlantean who likes to explore the world around her. 




And this is the first background layout I've drawn up; Síofra's house. Located in a cliff-edge environment, but with a distinct Irish style, the house sits on it's own tiny island and is reached only by a wood and rope bridge. 

Finally, I just want to say, Lá Fhéile Phádraig! Hope everyone's having a good St Patrick's Day! :)

Jazz Musician's Apartment


This is something of a long running project, I suppose. I finished it a few weeks ago, just in time for Pen & Pixel 2014 but I started it way back in the first semester. It's ended up being a kinda hybrid drawing, in terms of media. Traditional lineart, digital colouring, and traditional shading.


The assignment was part of my Drawing Principles module, while we were studying one-point perspective. After studying basic perspective in class, we were given a few titles to pick from and were asked to create a lineart-only layout. If any of you have ever seen my Interior Design and Architecture board on Pinterest, you're not going to be surprised that the title I chose was "messy jazz musician's apartment" which I explored with a 1920s, vintage film kinda twist. I used pencil to sketch our the layout originally, then cleaned it up with a brown ballpoint pen.


Fast forward a few months, and press play when the countdown to the end of the year begins. Our last assignment for the module was to choose a project we'd done during the year, and develop it further. It was entirely up to us which assignment we chose to delve into, and it was our choice how far we took it. Since I'd drawn the lineart for this, I really wanted to toss a splash of colour on it. And because I've been wanting to learn how to colour digitally for a long time now, I decided this assignment was as wise a choice as any.


I started with the base colours. In keeping with a vintage film aesthetic, I kept the palette muted and limited to just three or four colours, with a heavy leaning towards browns. Then I tried to shade it digitally and failed miserably. It was a complete and utter disaster and I'm just going to pretend that it never happened. Instead, I went back to traditional media. Bring out the trusty 2B.



Once I was happy with the shading, I scanned it and used adjustment and multiply layers to deepen the darks and bring out the highlights. The pencil gave everything a slightly grainy, gritty feeling, which I liked. When I was happy with all that, I tied everything back together in a neat little package; lineart, colour, and shading. And then finally called it done.




Charlie

This semester in college is largely focused on one major project; developing a two-dimensional character and environment in Adobe Illustrator, and then using Adobe Flash and ActionScript to create a walk-cycle and enable a user to control the character. So far, I've finished all design aspects of the project, and I'm in the very early stages of programming the character and environment.

My character is called Charlie, from CH-4R-713, which is a short-hand version of his make and model. His story is that he is an outdated home-helper robot, which has fallen into disrepair. Over the years, he has lost some panels in his bodywork, which left vital wiring exposed. Charlie’s story involves a bird removing a vital cable from his arm, thereby forcing Charlie to leave his home in pursuit.


As with most digital work, the design for Charlie started out with pencil on paper. After research and development, I settled on the design as it is now, then drew it up in ink and scanned it. Ensuring each individual part was contained in its own layer - to make life easier when it came to rigging - I set to work recreating it in Illustrator. 

The next asset to be created was the environment Charlie will inhabit. I wanted to keep it simple - so that the focus was on Charlie and his movement – so I settled on a woodland location with a lot of gentle, organic shapes, and I kept the colour scheme quite muted. The most important aspect to keep in mind when laying it out was that it had to support parallax scrolling, so each layer of scenery had to be contained in its own layer in Illustrator, and those in the near foreground needed to be wider than those in the distant background to allow them to move more quickly.

While working on that, I was also busy getting Charlie rigged and ready to start walking. The original Illustrator file was imported into Flash and every component that moved was converted to a symbol and rigged so that they rotated appropriately. Then I added keyframes to establish the most extreme points of the walk cycle, and tweens to start making the movement more fluid. Tweaking individual frames and tweens, and adding slight squash and stretch to certain parts, most notably the spring in Charlie’s torso, helped to give it a more ‘natural’ feel. 

I’ve just scratched the surface in terms of coding the ActionScript. I have the background scrolling left and right according to the keyboard controls, but I have yet to set limits, bring Charlie into the scene, and get him walking in the right direction and at the right pace as well. I also hope to start working on an interaction between Charlie and something in the environment very soon.