/ by Matt
Well you’ve seen our characters, Proog and Emo, so it’s time for a long overdue look behind the scenes at their design process. We spent some time in the earlier days of the project really trying to get inside the character’s heads, defining their personalities and then building up their visual appearance around them. When we had some idea about what these guys were supposed to be, we took some time drawing concept sketches that we could then evaluate , select our favourites, or see what interesting ideas could be lifted or combined on the way to the final design.
Proog is old and bent, at least in his sixties. A man who’s been living a rough life (perhaps a nomadic, homeless existence), for the most part apart from the rest of the human race. He plays the role of commander and teacher, and he lives his life dominated by fantasy. His clothing should reflect his downtrodden existence, by being old and tattered,made from bits of mismatched and ill fitting clothes - cast offs from other people. He’s also authoritative, and his selection of clothes builds towards a kind of uniform, a cross between a teacher’s tweeds and a soldier’s outfit. Proog’s face is constructed along curves, almost as one would design a car. The curves follow along the contours of his forehead and nose, and around his exaggerated angular jaw, coming to a point in the front, giving an almost bird-like appearance.
Emo is younger, between 20 and 30 years old and more naive, but also living the hard life like Proog. He should have a more sprightly build, and should be smaller and thinner than Proog. His face shows curiosity and his clothes hint at a dominated, perhaps captive position. His costume suggests work and subservience: work-goggles around his neck, a grimy face, knee-pads. He also wears a jacket that faintly resembles a straight jacket, and he too gives an impression of being put together from cast-offs. Emo is uncertain about what’s going on, a bit twitchy and curious and looking around with a cocked head. His long, thin neck will help to emphasise this movement and give us some interesting contortionist opportunities!
Once we had a few candidate sketches, we assigned each character to single people to push further, to prevent an overload of different ideas and allow more of a style to come through. As I was working on Proog, because of his exaggerated lines and unreal jaw, I found it difficult to quickly visualise the forms and shapes, and how he looks in different angles, and how his form would work in 3D. We decided to go and get some modelling clay, which was a bit of a first for all of us, then I continued clay modelling with Proog, while Andy worked on Emo. Not only was using the clay lots of fun getting our hands dirty, but it was also really beneficial, allowing us to quickly and easily get a feel for the forms, and make very quick experiments with the proportions, without getting stuck in the details of buttons, edge loops and topology.
After we’d decided on something final, Proog went off to Bassam to be modelled in Blender, while Andy continued with Emo. The modelling process is still not over, as Bassam is working on rigging their mesh shape keys for blending in animation. Of course for nostalgia, we’ve kept the old sketches around - one of the walls of the studio serves as a memorial of those early days, and where have come from since then. Till next time!