Monday, October 17, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Designing the New Poptropica!

Remember when we told you that later this year we'll be launching an All-New Poptropica? And then in August we gave you a look at potential house designs?

Well, now we've got another pretty cool thing to show you: Poptropica Creator Jon Pitcher is giving you a first look at monster worm that will make an appearance in the New Poptropica!

Jon was kind enough to write a guest post for us today on what exactly goes into designing a new creature for Poptropica, while giving you an exclusive look at the creeptastic monster worm he created. Take it away, Jon!

Thanks, Skinny Moon!

When we design our creatures for Poptropica, it’s important to start with rough sketches to explore a wide range of emotions and poses, like this one:

These kinds of drawings help us to quickly rough out the personality and attitudes and dig deeper into who the creature is and how it reacts when it is curious, provoked, irritated, angered, or lulled to sleep. This also helps us to figure out the way it would move as an animated character.

After we feel good about our creature on paper, we create it as a vector illustration:

This is created in a neutral pose without color to focus on making the design look clean and solid while still maintaining the character and appeal. If we can build our design to be able to pull off happy, bored, angry, sad, and puzzled expressions through both the face and body poses, then we have what we need to move forward.

Next it’s very important to explore what colors are appropriate for our creature to help it fit comfortably in its environment and also stand out in a fun, appealing way:

The colors should also reflect the personality of the creature and help the audience feel happy, disgusted, peaceful, or whatever emotion the artist intended. This worm monster has wildly saturated yellows and reds on the face to show its extreme personality and a speckled brown body to show how it fits into its earthy, dirt-covered home.

We're almost done: Now it’s time to build the animation rig! This is a technical process of building a puppet using lots of bones and curved lines with handles so that we can control the attitudes of the body and face then pose them into any position we need:

This worm monster was a complicated rig to build. Each tentacle is set up so that the animator can pose it into any wet noodle-type shape that they desire.

And now it’s time to ice the cake with some fun character animations!

The animator’s job is to take the rigged puppet and set it up into hundreds of poses until it comes to life. It takes thirty poses to create one second of animation! Simply making it move is not enough. A successful animator knows how a human or animal body can move in a way that is not only entertaining but believable as if it were a real, living creature.  This takes a thorough understanding of timing, weight, and acting.

The end result is a monster worm that can create a simple emotion in the person that views it. It is colorful, wiggly, and a little crazy.  What is your reaction? Perhaps some might want one for a pet, but most would likely run away screaming!


Thanks for this amazing behind-the-scenes look into the New Poptropica, Jon! What do you think about this monster worm, Poptropicans? Pretty awesome, huh?

We hope you liked getting a look at a New Poptropica creature and learning about the design process!

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