Last Monday I spoke to James about making my Spirit look like a Spirit. I had been looking at Spirits/Gods in Japanese games that morning (i.e. Kikwi in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Amaterasu/Chibiterasu in Okami) which is in sync with some of the Japanese woodblock/watercolour influences earlier in my development. While he originally thought it should be more of a squirrel now, he agreed that the loose brush strokes and mist-like swirls implemented in Okami gave that impression of otherworldness that my Spirit needs and would be appropriate to contrast the Spirit's world with that of Amber's.
Later on, Matthew also agreed with the new direction for my character designs. He said that the Spirit should still be squirrel-like in movement in a quick and zippy sort of way so I should do some research on them at parks like Bute Park in Cardiff filming them and drawing etc. Basically my designs were all good to go with which I was very happy about as I had been stressing over them for a while
We also spoke about shortening my animatic and how I was going to go about going from a 5 minute film to about 3-4 minutes and how to convey a performance using dot eyes on Amber. He said he'd rather I spent more time focusing on good animation and less about worrying about clean-up: the rough, loose line I've been using for my sketches are fine. I thought back to watching 101 Dalmatians and The Jungle Book and how I loved seeing the construction lines popping up every now and then, so I think I will keep the rough style (which suits the natural, textured world of my film anyway) but experiment with how I colour it.
These are sketches I did of my new character direction that day:
I'm using Okami, guinea pigs, rabbits, foxes and squirrels for my main point of reference. Here's Amber interacting with him and more dot eyes:
The next day (Tuesday) I met with Leonie for feedback on my new designs. She also preferred my new sketches and enjoyed the lively poses and clear silhouettes. She said the dot eyes encouraged a triangular formula for 'cuteness' that is almost equilateral between eyes and the nose. On animal toys, the more squashed this triangle the cuter and the longer the triangle the more wise and 'knowing' it becomes. This is difficult to achieve on humans as they can start to look alien very quickly. On Amber's face this triangle is between her eyes and mouth with the nose in the middle, which is fine but I will have to keep her eyes small to avoid the 'lifeless' look that bigger eyes can encourage when highlights and glows are not compensating for the size of the eye (e.g. anime).
As long as her eyes are small and stay in line with the mouth/nose, it will focus her gaze and allow me to do the dot eyes, but I can always do very small eyes that show the pupil and the lids like Joanna Quinn's Charmin Bear. Leonie's favourite drawing that summed up my girl's character was this one from my previous post:
Finally, Leonie was much happier with the Spirit drawing which looked like a guinea pig with the fox-like tail that flows and breaks apart like water as it is enough to suggest it's spirit-ness. She liked the vagueness of the feet and angular eyes and the bottom-left most drawing of the first image in this post in which the Spirit looks angry and has the deer-like leaf antlers and the orb of light... however that may be too difficult to do against light backgrounds and it is perhaps too serious...
Finally I need to make it absolutely explicit what's going on in the beginning of my film, so that the montage in the middle can be made much shorter. I've uploaded my newest animatic, so I will post that up next.
And here's an image of my Spirit design references looking at lots of animal art and spiritual creatures!