Animation Brief: Designing Characters

The guy with the hat.

It is the start of a new project now and this time it appears to be a big one, although the inclusion of small marked one week projects throughout is something I welcome as I think it will keep me on my toes a bit more. Here is the main brief for reference though; something that I will need to keep in mind so as not to get carried away with the one week ideas.

Overall Brief:
You are required to produce a 30-second animated character performance that clearly and effectively communicates an identified game mechanic. The emphasis here is on the communication of the core play activity by employing suitable cinematic, visual design and animation techniques.

For such a small brief there is a pretty hefty outcome; especially as the program being taught alongside it is Maya…I think I am going to have my work cut out for me. At least I feel more confident in Maya after today’s tech lesson; I have been unable to go to them the past few weeks so I was afraid I had missed a lot. Turns out what I had missed were things I had covered in college while using 3DS Max. So once I was a little more familiar with the Maya interface and the way the program handles things I was picking things up a little better. Maya is proving to be easier to use than 3DS Max, although it too is still plagued with the random occurrences and the inevitable crashes.
Anyway I have had a few ideas knocking about for this final animation; one was to animate a character going through some simple moves from Capoeira or Tai Chi. However the more I thought about how that would have to be timed and positioned to look right I fear that it would be a bit beyond my current ability and time limit. However part of this project is about taking risks so I may give it a go anyway, but only if the final character design fits. As so far I have not had many ideas for the final character. I am instead thinking about character designs for this week’s one week project.

One Week Project Brief:
Design and illustrate a game-character using only the typeface-characters from a typeface/font of your choosing. Upload a .jpg image to moodle (saved in the appropriate format) depicting the original font alongside your character design. You MUST adhere to the following restrictions:

a) You are limited to constructing your character from the typeface-characters of one typeface only. Therefore, choose your font carefully. Ask yourself, what characteristics fit with my design? Serif or sans-serif? What other aspects determine the anatomy of the typeface? How does my character design recognise and respond to these identified characteristics?

b) Avoid choosing an overly decorative typeface. This is about subtractive design remember – less is very much more;

c) You are strictly limited to using no more than 3 colours (including the background/paper colour). In other words, use only 2 colours to depict your character (as the background will be the third).

I have already had a few ideas for this and have been doodling them down onto a wipe board (the closest thing to hand at the time!)

Wipe board sketches.

Thinking about character ideas made out of text but ones that could still be animated later on, as possibly thinking of creating an idea that would span the one week projects and tie them all together…not sure though will have to see how it goes.

The guy with the hat.

Typeface gentleman.

Think my brain is still thinking about the last project though as my first idea was this little guy with the top hat.

I also started looking up articles that I had come across in some of the design blogs I follow, had starred a fair few in Google Reader every now and then. One article, or should I say image, caught my eye:

Originally found on Smashing Magazine

It was something that intrigued me when I first came across it a while back, I thought that it might come in handy deciding on a typeface to use for this character design.

I also came across this site: Type is Art – a public interactive art project where it provides the basic building blocks parts of a typeface and asks people to create something from them. This is not quite what the brief stipulates, however I decided to have a play about with it anyway as it was interesting.

These are the results:

First Attempt

Second Attempt

I can really appreciate the need for iteration here as I much prefer the second attempt at creating this bird like creature.

This has however started to give me ideas on how to construct my own character – I have one that was sketched out at the beginning of Uni, I wonder if it would work created out of a typeface?


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