Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Steam Dog development

The steam dog started as part of a module that I was running for the BA (Hons) Stop Motion Animation Award at Staffordshire University. It involved a Steam Punk environment with a girl running away from a steam powered dog.
This is the first sketch of the characters. I really liked the dog; the angle of the legs bones gave them some energy and overall it seemed to have character.
The next sketch had a bit more detail and I was starting to think about how it could actually work and move.

In a way the dog was the continuation of a theme that I keep coming back to. Several years ago I created some robotic dog-like guns on 3DS Max for a personal game concept... 

...and then I revisited the idea on Photoshop using collage of found images.

I always like to play with characters silhouettes before refining them and so I got some loads of skeletal & mechanical reference and started to mess around with gears and pistons.

The next sketches were done on trace to allow me to work on two levels.

The final two sheets were scanned in and combined in Photoshop.

I felt the dog was too heavy at this point and had lost some of its character. I did another quick sketch to make it leaner and meaner.

Next I made a detailed silhouette on Photoshop using a palette of mechanical forms that I had been using for this project. I will go into them more when I talk about the quadruped engines that take the place of cars and trucks in this world. For now, here is the sheet of separate parts. I use a multi-layered version of this to build the machines.
This is the final silhouette. Good shape, deliberately influenced by the dogs at the end of ‘The Boys from Brazil’.
After leaving it for a while came back wanting to see some depth. So I went back to Photoshop, used ‘multiply’ on the silhouette and built up several layers of detail using custom brushes and more mech parts.
The next stage is modelling in Maya.

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