Transformers fan Kiel Figgins runs through the processes and teamwork involved in animating a fierce-looking Decepticon crawling across a truck
With the announcement of Transformers 4
, my friends and I set out to create our own Transformer project. This particular project is more of a motion test for a longer, 40-second short involving the same character. In this case, we wanted to create a single shot to verify the character in his design and presence, as well as establish the workflow we would use for the full project later on.
This short was created over scattered nights and weekends for 5 months, and includes design, exploration, modeling, rigging, animation, all the way through to scene completion and post-work. Since all those involved in the project work full-time, the work needed to be spread out over a longer timeline to keep the quality high for each facet.
Decepticon Truck Crawl
Right from the start of this project, we wanted to create a Decepticon
, not an Autobot
. In the latest Transformer movies, the Autobots more closely resemble what they transform from. These designs show elements like car doors and wheels, where as the Decepticons were more angular and abstract with shards protruding out of their silhouette.
After collecting a variety of reference from existing designs, concepts and other influences, George Longo
and I started blocking out rough shapes in 3D. We took existing pieces from previous projects to use as a starting point and proxy-modeled whatever new shapes were needed. While in 3D, we were able to change proportions and scale quickly.
Once George and I were pleased with the general direction, we approached Justin Albers
for the final design and adding the 'it' factor to make the character memorable.
Using references to begin the 3D proxy modeling
Justin Albers: Designing
Kiel and George had a pretty solid idea of what they were looking for and gave me a great reference sheet of influences. This guy was definitely going to be sinister, menacing, sleek and powerful – there were a lot of aggressive shapes and lines. We were also incorporating a bit of an insect/carapace/shell-plated look, with tons of interior mechanical details to break up those shapes. I was referencing a lot of samurai armor as well for the shoulders and waist, trying to make him feel protected but maneuverable.
Kiel also wanted there to be a lot of character in the head – we paid a lot of attention to the eyes and the creepy insect mouth in order to show some expression and personality.
Creating concepts using the proxy model
More concepts using the proxy model as a base
Focusing on designing the head using insect references