Part 1: Modeling by Jason Baldwin
I was asked to design two characters inspired by the old Goofus and Gallant comics from Highlights magazine. One character should ooze attitude and pre-teen rebellion, the other should be an unabashed teacher's pet, but both should feel modern. I decided that I would take an aggressively graphic approach to the design, so I referenced character work from Jamie Hewlett and the movies Coraline and Open Season. I wanted to push the idea that they were opposites, so I tried to make every single element of each character different to the same element in the other character. I did a few drawings with my remedial skills to work out the designs. Here are a few designs of Milton (Fig.01).
Max's design was based on a lollipop shape. He is skinny, has a wide face, small torso with a high crotch and thin arms with large hands and feet. He's supposed to have an "I don't care" style that he probably takes hours to co-ordinate every morning.
Milton's design was based on a triangle. He's chunky and even though his head may be wide, his facial features are small. His torso is large with a low crotch, and his arms are chunky with proportionally smaller hands and feet. His design is supposed to hint that his mom may still buy his clothes and decide on his haircuts, but he throws on whatever clothes are wadded up on the floor beside his bed.
I modeled both characters with standard extrusions and edge cuts. My first modeling pass was of solid "naked" models. From there I duplicated and scaled out the relevant polygons and modeled those into clothing (Fig.02).
I was careful to pay special attention to creating clean graphic lines on their faces and their silhouettes. I created hard corners on their fingers, lips, brow and bridge of the nose. I let the clothes be more naturalistic, but tried to keep some of the wrinkles graphic. I also tried to make everything a bit asymmetrical (Fig.03).
To pose them, I built simple IK rigs and bound them with default smooth skin values. I rigid-bound any belts or chains since I'd rather tackle those deformations by hand. When creating a static pose I find a simple IK rig to be the best route because it is extremely difficult to maintain proper proportions and ground contact with deformers alone. Once the characters are posed I fix deformations by skinning or by manual adjustments (Fig.04).
I wanted their poses to complement each other and demonstrate their personality. Both of their poses create a similar line of action, bowing to the screen left and back, but since they're facing different directions the result is different. Max is leaning away from the screen's right point of interest while Milton is shyly looking up and over his shoulder. Max's hips are pushed back, causing him to slouch in a closed pose while Milton's hips push forward and open his pose up. Once I was happy with the poses I added simple grayscale shaders to the models (Fig.05). I then created a render with a three-point light setup and an occlusion render, and handed them off to Joe to do his post work. Up till this point we'd been playing around with the idea of Max having long hair. We ended up going with spiky hair and Joe changed that in post production.