In 7 steps to 3D character animation
Animations do not just support the visual representation of complex content. Just as importantly, characters can be brought to life with the aid of 3D animations, messages can be told in targeted stories and brands can be emotionally anchored to the viewer. Peter Reitmann, the Creative Director of jls, explains how a drawn 2D comic character becomes a digital 3D character that can be used for a variety of advertising materials using CORNELL - the sympathetic mascot of Graubündner Kantonalbank.
May we introduce: CORNELL
The sympathetic Capricorn CORNELL acts as a mascot for GKB’s (Graubündner Kantonalbank) customer programme «GKB CORNELLCLUB». The character was developed as a comic drawing by Grisons artist Mathias Durisch 25 years ago. It also delights users as a digital 3D character animation on all digital signage channels and on the GKB website.
1. Character with personality
Initially, the personality of the figure is defined so that its characteristics can be mirrored using visual features. Sketches and illustrations are used to get an idea of the final design. In the case of CORNELL, this basis was worked out by Mathias Durisch, who brought the character to life in his character traits and effect 25 years ago in the form of a drawn comic.
In addition to the characteristics of CORNELL, the stories being told are very important. For this purpose, a storyboard is being developed that outlines the story in individual images and provides food for thought for the recordings. If a detailed close-up of the face is planned, more attention must be paid to this area - and especially the eye area - than if the whole of the sympathetic mountain goat is depicted as a full body.
3. Planning of advertising materials
The advertising material strategy defines the advertising material and the required output quality, for example for printed products (posters) or high-resolution moving image conversions (UHD/4K). These early conceptual considerations can save costs in the long term and ensure a high degree of flexibility when future versions are produced.
4. 2D becomes 3D
Once the character and story have been defined, the production follows by replicating the character in a 3D program. The more details emerge from the sketches, pictures and perspectives from the storyboard, the more efficient and detailed it is to work here.
5. Materialisation of the appearance
Once the 3D model has been built, the textures, materials and exposure are defined. In the example of CORNELL, the challenge was to harmoniously align the sympathetic mountain goat with the artist’s hand-painted sketches, so that it does not look like a foreign object. To achieve this natural appearance, the textures were painted by hand - digitally, of course, and in equally detailed manual labour.
6. Bringing the character to life
In animation preparation, the movements are created and simulated according to the storyboard for the character. The 3D model comes to life at this moment, maintains its emotions and learns to walk, talk, blink, laugh, etc.
7. Production of advertising materials
The final process step is rendering: This means the final image generation from the 3D program and the merging of colour corrections, typography and other necessary style elements. Different output formats are exported according to the requirements of the customer and the respective channel.