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Chapter 10. Characters > Functional and Aesthetic Criteria

Functional and Aesthetic Criteria

Whenever you set out to create a character, you need to take into consideration several functional and aesthetic criteria. In terms of function for this project, the models must fit the criteria given by the character setup department. This means that the topology of the surfaces must bind well to the inverse kinematics skeletons. Point placement at the joints should allow for bending and wrinkling. Overall surface smoothness is important for texture mapping and, consequently, rendering. The flow of points is equally important because their consequences are felt all the way down the production pipeline. The technical director (TD) for this project sends the models to character setup, and later they go to the animator for animation. At that point, the models need to have all their points in the right place so that problems don't arise. The models must flow smoothly in more ways than one. Any compromise done at modeling could result in extra time and effort spent by the motion TD and animators.

Regarding aesthetics, the models should be attractive and appealing. There are far too many bad character designs out there in 3D land; they're downright ugly. Knowing our limitations, we got our professional colleagues involved. I knew that I was not the best character designer, but I also knew what I wanted. So, to get the most aesthetically appealing look for the characters in this project, I commissioned Scott Clark, an animation director from Pixar, to design the two characters. We went through three successive design refinements before settling on versions of Spot and The Jerk, keeping in mind that the characters will be in an Art Deco universe and that they are actors that will tell a story. Scott drew the bodies and detailed head drawings that I could trace over in Maya. I also had Erick Miller, our TD, sit in at later design meetings to ensure a smooth transition for setup.


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