Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beagle Character Design Process: Big ears or small?

First, I took photos of my own beautiful beagle. I tried to get her from several angles and really study her shape. One thing I love about beagles is their big huge beagle ears! So when I started sketching I found myself enhancing her ears and exaggerating her eyes... and then her whole beagle head started to enlarge in my sketches!

Sapphire
Immortalized as Game Hero
 
After I sketched my real beagle, I decided on the proportions for the character beagle and drew technical drawings of it from the front and side. This is called a character model sheet.

I brought the technical drawings into Autodesk 3ds Max and "traced" the drawings in 3D from all angles. I typically model just half the body and then use what is called a "symmetry modifier" that will create a mirror image to complete the model.
Once I was happy with the model, I then "unwrapped" it so I could texture. This means that I basically flattened the 3D model as if flattening a box or unwrapping a gift. After that, I took my photos of my beagle and made textures in Photoshop.
 
The textures look great on the model, however, I cannot decide if the beagle character should have big beagle ears or not.
Big Ears   Small Ears
 
 
 
 
Then, in order to really assess how I want the beagle's ears to look, I cropped the small ears even more and brought both models into a game engine. This way I could walk around the character, interact with it and see it from the player's perspective.
 
Since this is just a development build, this model will go through several more iterations and then I will create a low-poly model to optimize for the game engine!
So, what do you think? Big ears or small?

55 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for the vote! Big ears are valuable to beagles in real life... so the beagle character can get big ears as an acquired weapon or skill... like a weapon to add to the arsenal!
      Feedback helps the design process.

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  2. Wow, that is quite the process indeed there at your feed. I have to vote big ears too, like that one a smidgen better

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    1. Thanks for your input, Pat!
      Yes, games are epic undertakings. Just when I think I'm getting close to the finish line, I step back and realize there is still so much more to do.... perhaps much like writing a book!

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  3. Well done! You're good with Max.
    I'm going to be the oddball and say small ears.

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    1. LOL! nothing wrong with being the oddball. In fact, it's helpful to hear dissenting views.

      You know, it's funny because I was pretty much decided on the big ears but a little while before I got your comment I watched my game engine vids again and I thought to myself "The little ears do look good-- like the character is perking them up to hear."

      Now I am starting to think the game will start with the character having little ears and then offering ear growth as a bonus or reward,,, to increase powers of smell or sound...

      ... it's all in progress! Thanks for the feedback!

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  4. Big is really cute. What a process to get this far. Though I don't understand all the dynamics, I can appreciate the amount of time, focus, and attention... and it's only one element of your presentation! Sweet.

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    1. Thanks, Dixie! Yeah, I think big beagle ears is cute, too. I appreciate the feedback. This is a great way to get objective opinions that inform the game design. Games are complex projects that have lots of moving parts, so best to get as many opinions as possible while still in the development stage!

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  5. Ah, this is so cool. We do a lot with 2D digital artwork (not the MSPaint comics, those are just for kicks) and have that decently mastered, but I've always been intimidated by 3D work. You make it look easy.

    Small ears look more realistic, but since it seems like a fun, more cartoony render, big ears look much cuter and more 'fun'. Definitely triggered my inner 'd'awwww!'

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    1. Thanks so much!

      I started as a 2D graphic designer and moved onto 3D. If you are interested in trying out an easy 3D program there is always SketchUp. This program is free and simple. That's the program I use when I teach 3D to children.

      Thanks for your vote on the ears! I like to hear that big ears look much cuter and more fun!

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    2. So what you're saying is that children can learn this but we can't? Man, kick me while I'm down... :(

      No, kidding aside, I think my biggest fear is just being a perfectionist, and I don't think 3D rendering is something I can do well enough to pass off as a potential book cover. I fear it would look cheesy and stupid. Like this. Or this.

      Ugh, so bad.

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    3. LOL! Those covers are hilarious.

      It's funny that you should link those covers with "sexy" 3D models because when I was on your blog referring to the new virtual reality I was thinking of how the newest form of virtual reality is using 3D Models and the Oculus Rift.

      Therefore, you would not have to model a "cheesy" book cover illustration, you could model a date for Friday night!

      ha, ha, I'm kidding!!! I know you don't need to model a Friday night date in 3D

      ... because you have exemplary skills in 2D.

      OMG, I AM STILL KIDDING! It just seemed like too perfect a set up not to go with it.

      Kidding aside, clearly I think you could have stellar 3D modeling skills because you obviously have skills in graphics. It just depends which dimension you want to work in.
      ;-)

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    4. Well, I have been told that I draw a nice set of MSPaint cleavage... And fun fact, in the very first iteration of our cartoons, one of us dated a broomstick with a wig. It just seemed natural.

      As a guy that still loves 8 bit gaming and enjoys the Indie games revived in that style... I'm more than happy with 2D. Our very first book cover I made in 8 bit art style. The Missing Link. I even made an 8 bit animated ad for it.

      Since then we've graduated to bigger and better things but this is about as 3D as it gets for us... so 2D and a half?

      Have you done any other covers outside of Breaking the Rules? The web is absolutely brimming with bad covers (I found those above examples in about 0.2 seconds) but it seems like you've got a real knack for it.

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    5. OMG, I love the old school 8-bit style! Love it! The animation is great. Seriously. However, the link does not work on the ad you linked to. Can I still get it Amazon for 99 cents? Dude, I'm going to Amazon to check this out.

      I've done two other covers but I cannot find them on the web. Typically I do gaming not novel artwork.... however, your book seems to cover both. I like that. I am very curious....
      ... off I go to investigate.

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    6. Yeah, that was just the gif itself. We've since taken it down since it's no longer true. It's a damn dirty lie! (We were running a sale at the time). Now it's full price. Sorry if that seemed misleading! Do you have a Kindle? I can probably find a way to just send the file to you if you want to read it.

      That story was very hit or miss for people because it's full of crude (but true) Internet humor. Like the fact that the Internet is 99% filth. Which, spoiler alert, it is. It's also a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, with our heroine falling down the rabbit hole and into the mad jungle that is the Internet.

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    7. Actually, I do not have a Kindle but I do have a tablet for drawing. However, I was telling Alex Cavanaugh that I really appreciate the act of reading a real book and turning real pages. So I just bought The Missing Link paperback on Amazon. BTW, when I went to Amazon to get the book I was surprised to see that today Amazon's homepage is "retro" for April fools.

      So, I'm just wondering why you do not have some of your books linked to your blog? It took me a while to figure out that's what you two do.... which makes me think of another question for you guys that I will go post on your blog.

      Also, I like your profiles on Amazon. I learned more about you guys there than your blog!

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    8. Oh, now I see the link to "Buy our Books"... sorry the new design threw me.

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    9. I hadn't been on Amazon yet today. The retro look is a nice April Fools touch. And hey, thanks for the support! That's awesome of you!

      So it's funny you mention it, because what we're actually working on this week is another pic or animated gif that we're going to put on the sidebar of our blog. It'll be the very first thing you see when the page loads aside from the banner. And it'll be a link to our bookstore (which is also getting a nice redesign).

      You are definitely not the first person to miss our web store link. It's so subtle and boring. AKA not for us. :)

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    10. Yeah, that's a great idea to put an animated gif on the side because that is actually where I was looking originally. Not everyone has tabs at the top of their blog, so I usually look first at the side.

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  6. This is something very clevr to do and write about, I did so enjoy your post, Thank you.

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  7. Fell in love with your blog! You do a great job! I know how much time it requires to keep updating your blog, but don’t stop doing it!)

    I’ll be happy to see you in my blog!)

    Diana Cloudlet
    http://www.dianacloudlet.com/

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    1. Thanks, Diana! I visited your blog and it is very ice. I will stop by some more!

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  8. Both look awesome- but I am voting for the big ears. I really loved learning about your whole process. This is an area I don't know anything about, but I am learning from you all the time. So fascinating. It must be fun doing what you do. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Hey Jess,
      Thanks for the vote! That is quite a compliment to know that you are learning. Thank you.

      I have fun. I tell my students that as 3D modelers we are like the masters of our own universe where any model is possible!

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  9. I vote for small ears!

    Wow, what a fun job you have!

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    1. Thanks for your vote, Betsy!
      Yes, I love what I do.
      ;-)

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  10. Awesome! Hmmm... small ears for me!

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    1. Wow, you and Betsy are really adding to the small ear vote. It's catching up to the Big ears vote!

      Thanks for voting!

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  11. Small ears for me too ~ What fun to see the choices ~

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    1. Small ear vote is just 1 vote behind Big ear. We might have to have a run off!

      Thanks for evening the score!
      ;-)

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  12. Replies
    1. Thanks for your vote, Linda!

      It's been a lot of fun tallying up the votes!

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  13. I like the small ears best. Very cute beagle!
    Lynne

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    1. Thanks for your vote, Lynne.

      OMG, Dina and Elliot are so adorable, too!

      Here's to cute dogs! Especially one wearing a Scrunchie (SO cute)!!!

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  14. Small ears! Such a cute doggie it is!

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    1. Hey Dezmond! Thanks for your vote!!

      ..... and we have a tie! Let's see if that changes over the weekend!

      Have a good weekend!

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  15. I'm impressed. Did I mention I was impressed? Big ears.

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    1. Drum roll please....
      The Tie is Broke!
      Big ears is winning by one vote.

      Thanks for your compliment, Blue. I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

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  16. Replies
    1. Thanks for your vote, Jen! Looks like big ears is coming in at the top!

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  17. I like the big ears..this was really cool thanks for sharing..

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    1. Thanks for your vote, Truedessa.

      You have a beautiful blog. I need to spend some time reading it. That first poem has a beautiful flow, a calm rhythm, like ocean waves.

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    2. Thank you for visiting and I am glad the big ears won..

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    3. I'll be back! Your poems are beautiful!

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  18. Our pup is part beagle, part German shepherd and ALL cute. She's got the big floppy ears and beagle legs but the brains of and smarts of the shepherd.

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    1. Yeah, beagles are the best. One of my beagles is a beagle/ jack Russell mix. She is a little bit on the hyper side but the beagleness in her really calms her. She is very smart. Also, she is like a tank. She is never sick or injured.

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  19. I'm voting small. My Beagle's ears are on the small side, so I am prejudiced.

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    1. Aw, Beagles are the best-- small ears of big! Thanks for the vote!

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  20. Wow, that is really impressive! As much as I love big, floppy beagle ears, I think the smaller ones seems more appropriate in your drawings. Thanks for visiting my blog today!
    TheCyborgMom

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    1. Thanks for your vote!
      Wow, the small ears vote is making a come back.

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  21. I like the small best.. thanks for stopping by Fourpaws.. your have incredible talent and creativity.

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    1. Thanks for your vote, Sandra! Small ears is coming in for a rebound!

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  22. So, so cute!! And I'm a bit on the small train as well but I like both!

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    1. Ha, ha! Thanks for your vote, Caitlin! I think at this point we have a tie!

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