Creative Futures

Minor Design Work

During the semester, I had a minor role in other areas of production such as pre-vis conceptualisation and three-dimensional modelling. Unfortunately, as most of my time had been consumed by the creation of the boy model, I had less time to explore any of these concepts further than what is shown below but from what little I could create, it was an enjoyable experience.

The Log Bridge


(E.1 – Shown above, the tree within the forest environment at the cliff edge) 

Modelling the log bridge was an unexpected task, which was given to me between the completion of the character model, but before it had returned from being rigged. During that period, I was tasked with creating the bridge – a key asset in the climax of the forest scene.

Rachel provided me with a mood board for the visual style she had intended for the log bridge, which included specific types of trees and examples of trunks and roots that could be used as part of our concept. The fallen tree had to fit in with the environment, which was difficult as the forest was primarily filled by skinner birch style trees. I feel that this perhaps had been an oversight by Rachel, who had forgotten that the environment needed trees which would look natural amongst the rest of the area, and yet be believed that this tree was to have fallen by its own accord.

In order to be functional within the scene, the design required that the tree is wide enough for both characters to be able to cross, and for it to look like it had fallen – unlike the base model we had been using, which looked freshly cut down by a lumberjack.

Example two shows the tree in greater detail. Admittedly, this had been a disappointment. I had really wanted to explore some element of environment design as this is where my interests are targetted towards for specialisation. However, being asked to produce a tree within a matter of hours that had the complexity of branches and roots, and without prior ability to practice working out the most efficient way of creating such a model, resulted in work that was not the best quality that I should have been able to create.

The tree seemed to be of an acceptable standard, and so it was imported within the scene as shown in example one. It is not the most aesthetically pleasing piece of work, but looking at it from a positive perspective – it was suitable for the task, and when faced with a time crunch, that is the top priority.


(E.2 – Shown above, a turnaround of the tree with a brown lambert applied)

Environment Design


(E. 3 – Shown above, my environmental design concepts) 

I had really enjoyed spending time working on the concept designs for the trees in the environment. As the forest had fantasy elements, I wanted to diverge away from what was expected and explore unique and unusual designs.

What I enjoyed exploring the most was twisting the perception of trees that already exist and pushing the design towards a range of unusual colours. It was challenging to experiment with the form of the tree to create something quite different, whilst still maintaining an element of childlike awe – throughout the design process, I reminded myself to think like a child, so I imagined the trees as obstacles that I would like to climb in, or in which to have a tree house that would be my sanctuary den.

Ultimately, the team decided that the best way to approach the forest would be by creating realistic trees, and communicate the fantastical element through the choice of colour rather than the entire design. I was disappointed, admittedly, but I supported the unanimous decision of my fellow team mates.


The Therapist Body Shape


(E.4 – Shown above, the therapist body silhouettes) 

These rather roughly drawn together body silhouettes were created during a time in the production schedule that the character of the therapist continued to be asked, yet some within the team did not want to discuss the matter further – in case they then were given the obligation of creating her.

At one point, I had gotten frustrated with that attitude, taking a break from the process of creating the boy model to sketch up a small range of body shapes for the therapist. My impression was that if at least a visual silhouette could be chosen, that would be a stepping stone towards character progress. The types ranged from athletic to curvy, and the majority of the team seemed to be drawn towards the plumper silhouettes, as they felt that the body type conveyed friendliness and approachability.

Katie eventually stepped up to undertake the task of creating the therapist. I had expressed concerns that because I was inexperienced with character modelling and that given my attempt at the boy had taken the duration of nearly three weeks to get to the finishing stage (and at the time – still required UV mapping and textures), I may have been unable to create her within the time window that we had available to do so. The choice was pragmatic, as this was during the time that the team began to feel the strain of the social situation that was steadily increasing the workload for the three of us. I felt that it was a very mature decision for them, and appreciate the stress that they elevated from the rest of the team by undertaking that task.

Bear Designs

(E.5 – Shown above, the bear designs) 

Above are the bear concepts that I had explored earlier in the semester before Katie had been assigned the role of that character design. It was during this period that I discovered just how much I sucked at drawing bears. Whilst I can see that the continued practice helped my designs implement some logic to the shape and appearance, they still were not very aesthetically pleasing.

Katie recommended the Aaron Blaise tutorial to me, and while I did refer to the guide when creating the bears shown in example four, I feel that by trying to get a stylised appearance I compromised the anatomy of the animal – hence why they look so poor. In this situation, I failed to find the balance between anatomically correct proportions and the caricature of the animal, making it unrecognisable as a bear. Despite the disappointing result, I am relieved to know where it was that I had gone wrong so that I know how to avoid and/or correct that situation in future.

The Logo Design


(E. 6 – Shown above, the boy and the bear logo design)

One element that identified the animation lacked was a logo or introductory text for the beginning of the animation. Whilst winding down one evening, I decided to create an image that incorporated different elements of the project together to create a logo. The colour scheme was inspired by the mural piece that Katie had created for the wall in the therapy room, whilst the trees represent the forest environment that Rachel created. Finally, the bear paw print is a direct replica of the one that I had hand painted onto the tail of the boy’s scarf. In a sense, the logo is a representation of the work that we have created collaboratively during this project.

Completing these minor design elements for other areas of the project provided me with a break when I began to experience frustration during the modelling stages of the boy creation. The change of pace allowed me to return to my main challenge with fresh eyes, and a new focus. During that difficult period, I felt that it was exactly what was required to motivate me to progress forwards towards the best outcome that I could achieve.

In certain areas, my input was implemented. I was disappointed that this was not within the area that I held my interest towards, but that is the nature of production. The designs were not the right choice at the time, but that will not be the case every time – and that is what I must focus on when I begin to feel disheartened.


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