Hey, hey! At last, the first of the new characters I'm designing for Animation Mentor has been officially announced! Her name is Aia and she's a member of the CREW, the new batch of advanced characters that comes as a follow up and an evolution to The TRIBE characters I had previously designed. This means I get to show what went into the process of creating her...
She's the Pilot of The Crew and an all around badass. This was the premise I had in mind for Aia... someone who was confident, adventurous, filled with positive energy... as well as captivating and appealing as a result. I wanted that appeal to come from within and build the design around that driven personality, of an unrestrained and comfortable-with-herself person. Okay, okay! So I might have romanticized her personality a bit... So what. I strongly believe that as a character designer, whether you're designing a likable character or a villain, you have to invest yourself emotionally with it, if it's going to result in a genuine and memorable character. Plus, I draw whatever I please, so beat it... Here she is and this is how she came to be! Enjoy!
Once my proposal for the concept of the Crew got picked up (which I unfortunately can't show you images of, since it includes the other characters that will be coming out in the future) and we decided to start further developing the lead female character... I went looking for reference. In this particular case, I can't say it was a very tedious process ♥v♥
ALTERNATE HAIRSTYLE DEISGN
At some point during the rigging process, once we started seeing some animation tests by the amazing Lluis Llobera, we came to the realization that even though the standard hair was working and looking great, it was perhaps too big of a leap forward for beginner animators coming from the TRIBE characters. So, while we definitely wanted to keep Aia's standard hair, we determined it'd be wise to add an optional alternate hairstyle that would be shorter, with fewer controllers, and thus easier to animate. It was time to go looking for reference again and start sketching and exploring.
While I would have gladly gone for something more rad, it was decided that we went with the pixie cut, which turned out very well in the end. At first I designed it as one single bulk of geometry, but we felt it was a little boring... so I developed an alternate design with separate strands of hair, which is the one we ended up going with, and is now the optional alternate hairstyle for Aia. You can compare the two versions bellow:
And this basically brings us to now! There's an animation test coming up soon that I can't share with you just yet, but I'll update this post with it when it's out. If you have any questions about the design and creation process of Aia (that I might be able to answer), feel free to ask in the comments bellow!
Oh! I guess there's room here for a small p.s... So you might be wondering about the name Aia. I was offered the privilege of naming the character I had become quite attached to, after working on her for so long; so I named her Aia, after a mountain in my hometown of Oiartzun (Basque Country), called the Stone of Aia. It's a very peculiar landmark, and a very important one for me. Whenever I come back from my travels and see it pop up in the horizon, that's when I know I'm home. So yeah, if you are a die hard Animation Mentor fan, and feel like doing some creative pilgrimage, gimme a shout when you visit this part of the world, and I'll be happy to take you for a hike to the top of The Stone of Aia ;)