Hi there! My name is Sarah and I recently graduated from Escape Studios with a degree in 3D animation, where my specialism was character design and storyboarding. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to intern here at Sliced Bread for 8 weeks over the summer, which was a great chance to gain some practical studio experience. It has been really interesting (and busy!) so far, seeing how the core team manages many different client projects at once.
Over the next 8 weeks I will be working on a character design project, focused on mental health first aid. I will be planning and designing a suit of 5-10 light, fun and educational short films that provide suggestions and support for those dealing with negative mental health and its side effects. It is important to remember that one solution won’t work for everybody, so a ‘kit’ of multiple suggestions can help to cover a wider audience.
I began by researching NHS articles and current media trends for coping with mental health. Nowadays, the importance of maintaining good mental health is far more prominent- with meditation apps like Calm and Headspace more popular than ever.
The NHS and many other mental health charities recommend five main ways to help deal with mental health; connect with others, be active, keep learning, give to others and take notice of the world around you.
Maintaining good physical health can also have positive effects on mental wellness. Solutions such as balanced diet, a good night’s sleep and cutting down on alcohol/ caffeine/ cigarettes can help to improve the way you feel.
The next stage of my research focused on existing character and environment design. I was given a few videos to start, which had existing animation and design styles we liked such as the Headspace animations and Pixar’s Inside Out.
From this I started on my own early concept sketches both on paper and in Photoshop- as this was quite an open brief in terms of design I began with loose, simple shapes- playing around with squash, stretch and basic expressions- in order to think of some ideas and potential directions I could go.
From my initial concepts I developed 6 different basic concepts, with different themes. I presented my ideas and got some feedback. We agreed that some of these concepts were either too complex or overused and ran the risk of not being relatable enough for an audience to connect with.
I narrowed these 6 options down to my favourite 3 ‘Mood Birds, Heart & Mind and Blobs’, and so I went forward with developing these concepts in my second week.
Moving into the second week, I thought more into how the world design would work as well as producing more detail in these 3 character concepts.
I presented my developed work again in order to narrow it down to just one concept. We agreed that Heart & Mind were the favourite concept- but we wanted to try and combine this idea with the softer, looser edges on the blobs as well as the exaggerated squash and stretch which is more interesting for animation.
I then set about exploring various different styles to represent a heart and mind- from ultra simplistic shapes to more realistic looking designs.
Having never produced a client concept pitch before I had overestimated the amount of concepts I needed to present. This proved to be a good learning curve however, as I was able to look at previous examples of design work done here and get a better idea of what was required. I will now be producing 3 more cohesive character concepts ready for presentation next week.
If you want to keep up with my progress, I will be blogging here every 2 weeks. Stay tuned to see how my concepts work out and what progress I make with the brief.