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It’s great to have a character that’s looking good in one pose, but it’s extremely important to know how that character is going to emote! Thus, when designing and building characters I find it very useful (and almost necessary) to draw and model the extreme shapes before we start rigging the character.
In the case of Robyn, we really didn’t know how detailed to make the mouth, or how the mouth would affect the stomach deformation. Luckily, Scott stepped in with some great example paintings of how the mouth could work.
The images below are actual paintovers of the model! Scott did such a good job painting them, many people thought they were the actual model!
In these, examples, Scott very quickly demonstrates that the mouth opening and closing will be a very graphic shape, and won’t really deform the belly too much. I love the subtle shading on the interior.. almost like the mouse is hollow! I also really like the subtle way the mouth corner works when he’s smiling vs frowning. Notice that with the smile the corner tucks into the cheek just slightly, but with the frown, it’s very graphic and we don’t have a corner shadow. Those sorts of details really help out when figuring out how to rig a character!
Scott drew over the model for a happy mouth.
Scott’s drawing of a sad mouth.
An example of scared eyes!
While Scott was painting, I was experimenting with how the mouse would end up looking when scared. I liked the idea of a quick swap of the eyes since I didn’t think we were going to be seeing the transition on screen, so I put together a quick demo of how I thought the eye rig might work. This video shows some of the controls available to the animator.
The animator has control over the eye position (sliding them over the surface of the face), the shape of each eye, and then can switch to scared mode. I wanted to keep the controls the same depending on the mode they’re in, so the shape of both sets of eyes are affected by the same controls.