Over the course of my study I have found myself drawn to collaborative projects. I always want to create something that is bigger and better than the sum of its parts, which leads to seeking out others with skills that complement my own. This leads to the need to communicate many aspects of the project across the entire team, such as but not limited to; art styles, character concepts, themes, and colour palettes.
As animators we usually find it easiest to communicate visually, through experience over the last few projects, I have found that a strong, comprehensive, art bible greatly improves the cohesion of a projects art direction. Creating, and working from, art bibles were exceedingly useful throughout this trimester. I have been a part of several different collaborative projects; the efficient animation, Zorra’s Wanted, the independent projects, Orc Vs Witch Doctor, and Jacobs AR game, and the final project Lather Rinse Repeat. These projects are of various different sizes, requiring communication between different disciplines for different tasks. Over the course of this blog post I will detail my contributions to, and use of, the art bibles used in these projects.
For the Wanted project I worked on the storyboard, with Maddi, and the animatic. When we created the storyboard it was early in the project, we did not have concrete character designs, and we were still putting together the mood board. The storyboard and animatic contributed to the art style and art bible by describing scenes, rough character possesses, and ideas for shot compositions. Having the storyboard early was valuable as it allowed us to see what sets we needed to create, and what angles those sets would be viewed from. As the animatic artist I had a lot of control over the beats and timing of the scenes, and how they flowed into each other (Beiman, Nancy 2012).
I had already read Azam’s short story, listened to his album (Idris, 2015), and was familiar with the media he drew inspiration from. This helped me create my own vision of the world, these were the beginnings of our art bible. From there we added mood boards, character concepts, and of course the storyboard, and animatic. I leveraged these during production, having a strong concept allowed me to work imaginatively when composing my scenes, with the confidence that they would work within the completed project. This vision was especially valuable when it came to lighting my scenes. The neon lights, magenta and cyan colour palettes, and the dark yet vivid concepts inspired my lighting and shot composition, especially in the foot splash shots. In addition to this taking WIP screen shots, posting them on the slack board, and responding to feedback, was also an important process that helped keep our art style cohesive.
Orc Vs Witch Doctor has come in to being through myself, Karen’ and Mayu’s own separate ideas combined to create a larger project. This task did not have strong as strong pre production as the Wanted project. We had a smaller group with less to communicate. This project was more about combining the assets we were intending to build for our portfolios as individuals. We didn’t create a large art bible for this instead we referenced cartoons like tom and jerry, or the Blur studios League of legends trailer to communicate our ideas. We did individually create concept art, and Karen put together an animatic however we were not as strongly constrained by a particular art styles I as am with my other projects. This has come through visually as Karens and my characters are very different, mine is much more stylised. If this were a final project the differences would be something to address however as it is a smaller project, more a proof of concept the differences are acceptable.
For Jacobs AR project I was given the brief of creating player characters for an augmented reality board game. This game was to be played by new SAE Qantm students to familiarise them to campus. From the outset, due to time constraints, we knew our animations needed to be simplistic. I searched for games, or cartoons, with simple character designs that would lend themselves to the simple shapes, images from games like Rayman and Don’t Starve, and art by or inspired by Tim Burton. Using screenshots found from image searching I created a mood board that we used to communicate ideas. For this project we only wanted characters so that is what the mood board centered on. In addition to this I worked on a few pages of thumbnails and roughs, taking feedback and adjusting the characters to create the final versions.
Although final project is not part of the studio units I have leveraged the principles learnt over previous trimesters and applied them to this project. We have a large team of 6, executing this project successfully has relied on strong pre production. Our group consists of 2 artists, 1 game designer and 3 programmers. Different disciplines with different ways of communicating. We are using an art bible with consisting of a mood board, concept art, and references of inspiration to facilitate this communication. We also decided early on to use an asst pack from the unity store for the environments, this was our first constraint in art direction something we worked from to concept characters that fit within that world.
I created a mood board, on pinterest, adding some images myself, but opening the board to any team member to contribute images. We created the mood board while on a Skype group call allowing each team member to talk about the images they included, and what aspects of it they were taking influence from. In addition to this myself and Ben worked on concept art to help communicate our characters and world to both our teammates and our audience. I created an image of 2 of the small enemy characters. I chose a pose that demonstrated their bratty nature, these creatures are child like dust monsters, filled with more mischief than malice. Using this art direction me and Ben have gone on to build the basic models for our game. Again using these resources, and sharing WIP shots early has allowed us to take and give direction to create characters that fit together.
Using an art bible, even just a mood board can greatly improve the cohesion of the project. Its an especially important resource when you have a large group or are following a specific artistic direction.
Beiman, Nancy (2012). Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animation Features and Shorts. Abingdon, UK: Taylor and Francis.Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/saesg/reader.action?docID=10628915&ppg=6
Blur Studio (2013). League of legends a new dawn [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.blur.com/work/project/league-of-legends-a-new-dawn/
Idris, Azam (2015, January 26) Wanted, [Performed by Vault 16] on Egris [mp3]. Brisbane, Australia. Retieved from http://vault16.bandcamp.com/album/egress