CR readers may already be aware of a crop of finely-honed character designs appearing on the Twitter of one @Kibooki who clearly has a penchant for off-beat British comedy legends and American horror films. The designs are in fact all created by A Large Evil Corporation creative director, Seth Watkins, and he talked to us about how he makes them...
Ever since spying a particulary fine rendering of the two main characters from American Werewolf in London (were they toys? It was hard to tell), we've kept an eye on evilcorp.tv's blog and @Kibooki, which is where a host of new character designs have been posted at an alarming rate since August.
Seth Watkins, the man behind the work, is CD of Bath-based design and animation studio A Large Evil Corporation and he explained a bit more about how they're constructed, why he works on certain designs – and Evil's future plans for them.
Creative Review: Can you tell us what exactly we're looking at? While the images look very much like vinyl figures – are they in fact digital renders? How do the character designs fit into the wider work that Evil does?
Seth Watkins: They are purely 3D renders. I didn't make them with intention of hoodwinking anyone into thinking they were actual models, although clearly a lot of people thought they were to start with. A lot of the work at Evil is based on trying to subvert the CG aesthetic that has become so ubiquitous. We are a character animation company – always creating new styles of characters either for a specific brief or as part of our own internal development.
What started the project off? And how are you choosing who (or what) to caricature?
I've never been a great Twitterer but one of the few people I follow is Edgar Wright and I had seen a lot of great Cornetto Trilogy fan art re-tweeted by him. I'm a great fan of Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and with a bit of down time on my hands I thought I'd have a crack at making my own little bit of fan art and see if Edgar would retweet it (I sugared the pill with the promise of the whole trilogy if people liked them).
Well, Edgar loved them and shared them with his followers who were very keen so I fulfilled my promise. From then on a began a campaign of targeting people on Twitter whose work I both admired and thought I could interpret in this style. Then I began to broaden out. The only real criteria is that they must be characters I like and think will translate well in this style.
What software/effects do you use to make them?
The characters are modelled, textured and rendered using Softimage and very basically composited in After Effects.
Comedians seem to be strongly favoured – particularly Vic and Bob – is there a particular reason for this?
I'm a huge Vic and Bob fan and Bob [Mortimer] is very active on Twitter so he was next on my list. The look of the Reeves and Mortimer characters are very distinctive and well conceived visually so they were very easy to interpret. I like doing strong comic characters because they are so well designed and fun to work on.
What's the plan with the designs? A line of actual vinyl figures?
It's generated a lot of interest and we are very keen to develop a line of toys. We are currently investigating manufacturing pipelines as well as licensing procedure and talking to some well established toy companies so there's a very good chance that at least some of these characters will make it onto the shelves. We will also be producing a coffee table book when we have enough characters to fill it!