Friday, August 19, 2011

The road is paved with polygons: Roll Out!

Of all the things from my childhood to create in 3D, Transformers would be number uno (that’s Spanish right?), they were the thing for me as a kid; I had every toy, I watched the show religiously, and at recess I was the first to say, “Autobots, roll out!” I couldn’t get enough of that.

So I had the thought of doing a Transformer rolling around in my head for a while, and instead of going for something obscure (Hot Rod was my favorite Autobot as a lad) I went with the classic, Optimus Prime.

I really do mean classic, I wanted the no frills bare bones boxy looking Optimus from the original 80s run. Call me a purest, but that’s my time, and it’s what I was going to design; away with you Michael Bay, I wanted people to easily identify it as Optimus once I was done, not have a mess of shiny spikes and metal everywhere.

It’s a simplistic creation; the core idea was to not go overboard with ancillary detail, keep it true and basic and it looks more like the original. Finding ideal reference material was harder to find than you’d expect…really I had to look around to find how each piece of Optimus’s body parts fit together. Sounds a little strange, but it’s actually difficult to tell which part of his anatomy goes where, I had to guess about some for the finer details on his face for instance. These things don’t build themselves…how are Transformers born by the way?

We are talking about turning something that’s mostly represented in two dimensions into three, which is easier said than done – you literally have to look at it from a different angle, and many artists have to visualize something before they create it. Although when you are trying to make something based off pre-existing properties you want it to look like the source as much as possible. Or you could not do that, its never going to be perfect…unlike god’s best creation, nachos.

The big man is pretty blocky, no smooth edges on this guy (there’s a penis joke somewhere there.) He’s mainly composed of rectangles and sharp angels. You’ll notice I left the wheels off his legs; while in the original series when he transformed, from vehicle to robot form, his wheels disappeared (as did his trailer for some strange reason; maybe he just keeps spare ones around the battlefield?) and I decided to go with this depiction. In some anime renditions his wheels are visible -- not here.

One little thing I did leave out was his entire backside. Yes, he’s completely one sided, not even a big square robot ass, nothing. The other side is flatter than soda from your great Grandma’s fridge.  This is mostly due to the lack of reference material (I suppose I could have gone back to watch the show, or just made something up), but I knew I was going to render him from just one view anyways. This wasn’t a project I was going to display from every angle, and he wasn’t going to animate him (who knows how long it would have taken me to create a vehicle transformation state?) I instead opted for this simple pose.

That texture sure isn’t special either, I hope it at least looks good, but since I spent all of 30 minuets on it I wouldn’t be surprised if someone thought it was trash. I added some scuffs and scratches to the Autobot leader, and I went for more of a dull metal finish as opposed to a reflective look.

Not the most complex model and certainly not my best work, but he looks like the big fella from the 80s cartoon show and that’s what I was going for. Roll out! Unless you don’t have any gas…then I guess we could just stay home, that’s cool too. 

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