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Since time is limited, and in this case the duration of the different phases is defined by Dani, the script and animatic phase has occupied a very short time. Now I have a story that works quite well and is better to invest the rest of the time working quality animation. Planning is a crucial aspect of the work of an animator (and other professionals) and although we always pursue the highest quality in our products, we must also learn to sacrifice certain quality parameters that are not essential for the sake of other more efective.

Hands on with the next phase, then… Character design.
The first point I want to clarify is that tackling a 3D project we have two options and the decision depends, as always, on the amount of resources (knowledge and time, basically) available.

Own characters

If we have enough knowledge about modeling and rigging (ie the creation of the skeleton that controls the character poses and movements, as well as the deformation of the “skin” of the character that produce these bones) and the time needed to perform these tasks, or else we have someone who can do it, we can “make” our own characters. Large productions do it, getting a totally own product and providing a great value. For my personal project Roberto, for instance, I will model my own characters in keeping with the aesthetics that the story suggests me.

Lent characters

On the other hand, if we don´t have the necessary resources, or not interested at this stage investing, we can find many characters ready to animate that we can use in our productions. Some of them, such as Morpheus, offer the possibility of modifying the default look and bring the character to our needs. However, before using a given character, make sure you are not violating its license ;)
In this case, both the time available and because the objective of the exercise is to work a good animation, we will use lent characters. In my case I chose Morpheus by the quality of finish and richness of facial, and especially the possibility of tunning it in order to get children characters.
Before you start playing Morpheus drivers must have an idea of ​​what you are looking for. While artistic creation always feeds on feelings and ideas that arise on the go, keep in mind the objective to avoid getting lost in other appetites that could move you away from the story you want to tell. We must never forget that every element of the process has to be at the service of history, and that every choice should be based on this criterion: is the most appropriate for the story I want to tell? For those of you unfamiliar with 3D, this is the aspect of a character ready to animate. By moving, rotating and scaling the different controllers that offers the character, you can change its appearance and place it in the wanted pose.

In tackling the design of the two children, the first thing I wondered is what character they have, since the physical will help me to reinforce and transmit it. Unless you want contrast or surprise, the topic of imaginary friends determines a certain age for the characters, between 5 and 7 years.
The main character (the boy) usually imagine friends, since the mother asks him if his new friend is real or imaginary, so that will be a little retracted child that does not have many real friends. As references I used mainly Anton Ego (Ratatouille, Pixar 2007) and children of a spanish comic named Paracuellos (Carlos Giménez, 1976).

The imaginary friend has usually the same age as his “imagineer”, and in this case I raised two possible ways to attack: somewhat ghostly appearance due to its non-reality, or a normal appearance. I chose the second option to strengthen the ending surprise and because usually one imagines a friend fun and full of life. As references I took Peter Pan (Disney, 1953), without straying too far from the aesthetic previously marked by the main character.

Here you can see some of the design process steps for the characters:

Once given for good, I took them out to the outside world looking for feedback. This is something that usually seems hard for the artists, and I personally have taken many years to start practicing. Submit the work to external criticism is a painful act, but I assure you rewarding and enriches our creature with new ideas.
A schoolmate – thank you again, Victor! – suggested that children could be dressed as if they had been playing before the scene. The idea seemed fabulous, because it helped the story strengthen the friendship (and thus the drama), and sense of action before the scene, though I cared not understood well or be too flashy, diverting attention from the story . And when in doubt, the best thing you can do is to look for some feedback, so I “dressed up” my boys like and indian and a cowboy and bring them again to the external criterion …Approved! Here’s the final version of my characters. Hope you like them ^ _ ^