Hi, my name is Jonathan Simard and I'm Lead Animator at a very cool Activision Studio called Beenox. I'm really happy to do this tutorial – I hope it will be helpful and I'll try to let the pictures talk for themselves.
Robot Rock is based on a song called "The Same” by Daft Punk. And yeah, I think robots are cool, but they're even cooler when you choose to go with a different style! Let's just say, with this piece, I tried to make a different kind of robot…
In this tutorial I will show you how I modelled some of the parts, how I lit the character, and the final colour correction work that I did in Photoshop. I'm sorry to say this actually, but I didn't start with a concept drawing for this piece. Instead, I started with a picture of my girlfriend's cat, called "Edgy” – a Persian cat with sad eyes. This wasn't my only reference though; I took care to find anything related to robots, referencing lots of concept art and 3d models. Surely I knew I wouldn't model a cat, but I found it cool to start out using the cat's eyes as reference. I should mention here actually that the general basic idea for this piece was a dead ‘Astro' boy.
Eyes are always the most important thing on a model, and I should say that I put more effort there. For this model I took a lot of time getting the right proportion with the eyeball; I really wanted to feel the eyelid surrounding the eyeball (Fig01). When that was done, I only had to model a face that was going to fit with this kind of eye. The only thing I took care of after that was to achieve a clean mesh, simply because I wanted something clean.
I always follow basic anatomy in my work. There are few rules I try to follow during modelling: I try to not have stretch polygons; I aim to make my character look cool from every angle - even if I know I will pose him from a front view; and my character must look cool with no meshsmooth. Here I've put together a little progression, with a mini basic nose tutorial (Fig02 and Fig03).
I always start the nose modelling this way. You will notice that the last two ones don't have the same mesh. That's because I like to have the basic shape first, and redo the mesh later.
The muscle was the easiest thing to do. I wanted to make different kinds of joints between the arm and torso; I didn't want to make something too clichéd, so I modelled something that looked organic, yet at the same time robotic. So I used anatomy references and built a quick shoulder and arm. The technique, as you will see from Fig04, is quite simple. I just added a cylinder, copied it into a circle and added a twist modifier. With that done, I added a taper modifier to give the muscle a rounded shape, and with the help of the ffd box, I place it how I wanted it and it looked just like muscle!
The three tubes at the back were really quick and easy to model, too. I started adding a cylinder with 18 sides, and gave each section a 20 degree angle. I just kept one section and began working on it. When one section was done, I just copied it 18 times, with a 20 degree angle, and welded them together. That created one row. I copied that with a 10 degree rotation and weld the new part on the other. When I'd got one section with two different rows, I could then duplicate it and make the tube "thing”. At the end, I just added a taper to give the rounded shape (Fig05).