Entry 21: My Precious

Entry 21: My Precious

A coworker of mine told me that he used to have a sentimental object that brought him great joy when he held it. It was an opal gem, about the size of a half-dollar, that had a horse head carved into it. Every time he held it in his hands it would bring ease and contentment to his emotions. It wasn't a matter of monetary value that made it precious, but something deeper that no one else could experience.

He asked me if there was anything similar that I held on to for comfort, but I couldn't think of anything that brought me great joy and satisfaction by holding it. It wasn't until later when I was working on a project that I realized my precious object wasn't tangible; it was more of an idea.

A robot.

In high school I created a robot concept that was set to be a antagonist in a fictional story I was working on. It was intended to be a droid of some sort, capable of great mobility and combat. I was going to make it simple enough to create an army of robots, but as I dwelled on its concept, the deeper I began to invest on its uniqueness.

First robot sketch, circa 2007

First robot sketch, circa 2007

It wasn't long before I started to define the true nature of this robot, and before I knew it this concept began to play a big role in my imagination. I would often dwell on the character and mannerisms of a creature that did not yet exist in the real world. What was the robot like? Is it good or bad, or does it even know the difference between the two? Can it talk? Can it feel? Does it have a name? I hear that last question all the time, and I still have no name for it after years of its existence.

Early in high school I had a few sketches of the robot, but it wasn't until I took a Computer Animation course that I really became captivated by it. Some of my early animations began with this robot, and it fueled my passion for this character which became more of a reality every time I watched its animations.

Initial concept design, Autodesk 3DS MAX, 2008

Initial concept design, Autodesk 3DS MAX, 2008

My first college art course was Storytelling & Sequential Art, which is fancy for Comic Art. It was taught by both an art and theatre professor, so I learned how to draw cinematically and how to introduce character development. My comic project obviously included my robot concept, which in hindsight was a premature version in both design and story.

Cover of robot comic, mechanical concept design, 2010

Cover of robot comic, mechanical concept design, 2010

Animation was not offered at my college, so I undertook an Independent Study course and taught myself 3D animation. Because I was limited in resources and knowledge in creating a large scale animation, my independent study focused primarily on 3D modeling. I also used this opportunity to recreate my 3D robot.

Organic concept design, Autodesk Maya, 2012

Organic concept design, Autodesk Maya, 2012

3D modeling project, Autodesk Maya, 2012

3D modeling project, Autodesk Maya, 2012

For my Senior Thesis, however, I fully braced myself in creating an animated short by myself, which is traditionally not recommended. But just like the cartoon artist and animator, Winsor McCay, I challenged myself to solely learn the fundamentals of compiling a movie from scratch. This, too, feature my robot with an animation rig and motion capture performances.

Preview of  Cube: Animated Short , Autodesk Maya, 2013

Preview of Cube: Animated Short, Autodesk Maya, 2013

Post-college, I am again revisiting my simple robot so I can vet out the schematics and mechanisms of its form. Concept designs with sketches can only go so far in determining the range-of-motion for its body, so I have resorted to using plastilina for modeling.

Development of organic concept design (redo), plastilina, 2014

Development of organic concept design (redo), plastilina, 2014

For over 7 years I have had a dream in my head of this robot. Its nature is quiet and it is physically unable to talk; it is a passive being with a calm personality; and it has an untapped ability and potential to create or destroy worlds. The more and more I ponder upon this robot, the more I realize how much it and I have in common. Thinking about the robot comforts me; daydreaming about it turns into hours of delight; and a reality for this precious idea is my passion.

 
Entry 22: Fatherman

Entry 22: Fatherman

Entry 20: The Concept of Character - Development Part 3

Entry 20: The Concept of Character - Development Part 3