Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Why 2D Sketching is the First Step to 3D Modeling

3D modeling is the term used for digitally mapping out your character’s or object’s geometry within a 3D software. It's a meticulous and time consuming process, so it’s always recommended to have your details completely fleshed out before mapping them out digitally. Having a blueprint to work from ensures you’re being timely and efficient and avoids any unnecessary back and forth in the process. For Jimmy’s Big Adventure, we went through several sketches before finalizing the look and styles of each of our main characters and even a few key scene elements. Here’s how we did it!

Our football player is a major character in Jimmy’s adventure. He is Jimmy’s idol and a widely known star in Houston. We needed him to be strong, big and chiseled to not only reflect the style we’ve chosen for this part of town, but to really embody the persona of a football player. On the other hand, we didn’t want him to be so firm and large that he was unapproachable. It was essential for this character to embody both strength and kindness.

To Houstonians, this design may resemble someone we all know and love. After all, the number 99 is well known by our football fans. Though we did draw inspiration from this individual, we also drew upon other iconic characters in his development, like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and even Kristoff from Frozen.


The Armadillo was a particularly tricky character because his design is extremely detailed. We wanted to maintain the general anatomy of a real armadillo, but we wanted to spruce it up. We took inspiration from a number of characters, like Mad Eye Moody from the Harry Potter series, the mobster rats from Flushed Away and even popular mole characters. A few things we knew we wanted were the spectacle glasses, a fancy overcoat or vest, and the iconic shell. Throughout this sketching process, we played with a number of head shapes, clothing options, and accessories. We even debated if its pant should be worn under his tail. (We opted out for that one because it showed too much backside.)

Though this character won’t play a major role in Jimmy’s Big Adventure, we think his design is going to be spectacularly detailed and we can’t wait to share every bit.


Sugarland’s history is greatly rooted in the town’s now unoperational Imperial Sugar Factory, so naturally it framed our landscape for this scene. We didn’t want to stick too much to the factory’s actual appearance, but still wanted it to be somewhat recognizable. The silos are a big component of that. We thought the silos were the most defining aspects of the factory’s landscape, so we decided to focus our attention to detail there first. We explored many options and styles for these, but the melted and puffy silos definitely stole our hearts. We liked that they looked so unique and really helped to embody this “out of service” look we’re going for.

We also wanted to really play up the fact that the factory isn’t operational. We knew we wanted it to appear overgrown and dramatic, but not scary or intimidating. We decided the best approach for this would be to “overgrow” the factory with candy. We used twisted licorice candy to act as vines and colorful gum drops as flowers. We also will have one of the silos overflowing with mounds of sugar that will help bring some dimension to the scene.


Of course, the character that deserved the most attention was Jimmy. In the script, we see Jimmy at 2 ages. At first, he is younger, about 8 years old. This is when he receives his football from his father, along with a disappointing note. Young Jimmy needed to look completely innocent and soft. We wanted his eyes to be very large, his nose very small, and his clothing to fit a little loose to emphasize his small body. Even though we see him in a very emotional time, we wanted young Jimmy’s appearance and facial features to still show he is a hopeful, playful and brave young boy.

When we see Jimmy next, he has grown to be around 13 years old. His edges are a little more refined, he’s grown into his big eyes a little bit, and he’s a very active and strong young man. We are right on the cusp of Jimmy’s transition into manhood, so he still maintains much of that innocence and hopeful feeling we first saw. In the design, we used his eyes to embody those emotions and to really tie the two versions of Jimmy together.

What do you think of our initial sketches? Which character is your favorite? What would you add to really make the characters stand out? We want to know! Tell us in the comments below, or share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to follow the behind the scenes campaign as we continue to give you an inside look into every step of the creation of Jimmy’s Big Adventure.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

A Behind the Scenes Look at Storyboarding

Whether you’re filming a video or crafting an animation, a storyboard is a helpful and arguably essential planning tool. The purpose of storyboarding prior to filming or animating is to visually break down your project and give everyone a sense of the framing, pacing and flow. It will act as a reference for your entire team throughout the project and will ensure everyone is visually on the same page. At Swagger Media, we storyboard before beginning any project, so of course we’ve done the same with Jimmy’s Big Adventure. For this project, a storyboard was especially important because we outlined some very big ideas in the script and have a large team all working on different facets of this project at once. Luckily, to create a storyboard, all you really need is an artist and a script.

To be more specific, you need the script to be broken down into an A/V format, or Audio/Visual format. This allows you to map out the camera movement, graphics and reactions for each part of the script. This is how your storyboard artist will be able to a fully fleshed out storyboard.

Storyboard Scene 1 - Jimmy's Past

We wanted to make sure our character designers had full creative freedom to imagine what each main character looked like, so the best way to do that was to create generic and basic placeholders for our initial storyboard. We decided to use basic shapes and color coding to represent our characters and essential objects. Here’s what that looks like.

Storyboard Scene 3 - Transition 

Storyboard Scene 3 - Moment of Fear

Now we have a visual map of our project and will know that our animators and designers will have the same visual to reference. It may seem simplistic, but it is extremely important to have a single visual reference when working with a team of creatives. The best thing about creative professionals is they envision everything in their own way. However, when they all have to work together, it’s important to set a baseline for them to work from. This eliminates room for individual interpretation and ensures a more cohesive final product.

Of course, the storyboard is just one of many steps we will take to make sure our team is always informed with the same information. Now, as we move into the design phase, we will let the creative juices run wild. When we’re ready to begin prepping for the 3D Animation phase, we will reconvene and create an animated version of our storyboard that will help us block the characters within the environment and set the pacing for each scene.

Stay tuned as we continue to share with you every part of this process. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so you don’t miss out on any of the behind the scenes action! Have questions about anything? Just ask! We’ve started the conversation, you just have to speak up.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Introducing Our New Adventure

Dear Houston,

You may not know our name, but you’ve heard our stories. You’ve heard our voice through the caring reassurance from your Best Neighbors Ever, the wild styles of Trigger Finger Tracy, the focused and driven entrepreneurs of Houston, the peppy Allergy-Free Fred, and even the training of the University of Houston’s best and brightest.

There’s nothing we enjoy more than helping our clients’ develop their stories, but now we have a story of our own to tell. A story created, crafted, and communicated by a group of passionate Houstonians, just like you. More importantly, it is a story of Houston.

We will travel through and across our vast and colorful city. We will explore the ways others see us and the way we see ourselves. We will fantasize, romanticize, and idealize our city’s diversity and remarkability.

We’ll take you through each phase of our process and give you the ultimate behind the scenes look at everything. You’ll see the brainstorming sessions, the script writing, the character development, the 3D preparations, the animation, and even our review sessions. At the end of this journey, you’ll see the product these efforts built and you’ll understand the heart, soul and endless dedication that went into its creation

We want to hear your voice, your questions and your feedback through every step of the way, so please don’t be shy.

So Houston, this is our plan, or rather, our adventure. And it all starts here with a cup of coffee.

Come along this journey with us and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the full behind the scenes look.