I've just had a weird thing happen. I've been working on some ideas for a couple of characters called 'Foo and Bah' (Foo, a small intelligent fox and Bah! his muscle bound bodyguard sheep. I'd been drawing the Fox character for a while and I was getting frustrated as I couldn't get a feel for his anatomy. I wanted to keep him basic and cartoony and as usual I was over-engineering his anatomy. I really do struggle keeping to basic shapes. Where some designers will put in a stick for an arm and it works perfectly I try to put in the full anatomically correct arm with bones, muscles, fat etc. I kept on drawing the Fox over and over and I seemed to keep coming back to the same basic shape and it just didn't feel right for me.
I was about to Google for some reference images and then thought I'd quickly model a fox with primitives in 3D and then spin it around to get the form or silhouette locked off. I opened my favorite modeling package and threw down some boxes and spheres in no particular order. I messed around with them for a few minutes and started to get a basic Fox shape together. Before I knew it I'd gone from primitives into detailed modeling, added a few colors that suited the Fox and started trying out different poses and facial expressions that I had struggled with in the pencil sketches. In no time at all I'd hit upon the right design and I was happy that the anatomy was right for this project.
It is quite liberating to do your concept work in 3D, trying out different shapes, making scale changes to limbs, trying different expressions etc. I used my 3D model as a drawing reference and sketched out five or six different turnarounds and I was pretty happy with every one. I chose one and inked it, scanned it in and did some quick Photoshop coloring.
All done I thought. I'd nailed the concept via a very unusual concept process. Now all there was to do was to use the reference image and make the 3D model....oh..wait...I already did that bit!. Doh! Very confused.com
Added his partner in crime tonight the evil henchman of the piece, 'Bah! the Sheep'. Be VERY careful tonight as Foo & Bah are after your Easter Eggs! Guard them with your life! If you haven't scoffed 'em all already. Happy Easter!