Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Have a safe and fun Halloween this year...and watch out for Gate Demons!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TF1 - On Pause

I'm taking a bit of a Transformers break, and returning to posting about the first game on Monday, starting with the Shockwave concepts...

TF1 - Sector 7 Drone 02

The final views for the Sector 7 Drone. With this one, I used a bit of basic modeling to help me out with the treads, those are pain in the ass to freehand, if you don't have photo reference in the exact perspective you need, so I busted out my Max version 3, from my pre-Nintendo days, before the turn of the century. Oh boy.

I thought as a design, this guy came out pretty cool, but was so compromised to be able to make it in the game, it's some weird not-quite-appropriate interloper in the Transformers world. If it had been able to be bi-pedal, or had literal arms, head, or something humanoid robot-like, it would make more sense in this universe. In the end, it looks like it belongs to GI Joe instead.

I hadn't seen any levels, but I had set photo reference of the Sector 7 base, so I used those graphics and color tones to define the deco of this drone. Again, any reason to use 56 is taken advantage of...

The back view is where I tried to put in the most 'robot' type elements, showing the rotators, springs, balance systems, all that kind of engineering to get the impression of functionality. The idea that these were kind of in-process designs for S7, and they were front loaded with armor, but still a little exposed in the back.

Man, what if this guy transformed into a robot, that would have been somethin'...

Monday, October 26, 2009

TF1 - Sector 7 Drone 01

In addition to the transformer drones, there was concern about too much 'human killing' and along with the drones, there weren't enough dynamic enemies on the human side, with jeeps and tanks, etc. So they asked me to come up with a human made drone, based on the technology of the frozen Megatron, reverse engineered like everything else.

AT-ST meets ED-209 was a directive, made in the likeness of the movie transformers, which final designs were just starting to come in. They wanted gun arms, to simplify animations, but when they talked to Traveler's - they kind of freaked out on the idea due to time, and requested a wheel/tank tread based character, to further reduce animation time.

So you can see the last page of ideas here has just a couple roller types, just in the nick of time! Of course, to me, this means something different than 'based' on Cybertronian technology, and just ended up like a human mimic design, but hopefully still cool.

So the favorites got a little tone added, and submitted to Hasbro for approval. Despite the two legged versions, I'm pretty sure it was said that to make the milestone deadline, it needed to be the third guy, with gun emplacements for arms, and tank treads for legs.

Friday, October 23, 2009

TF1 - Armored Truck Drone 02

Mmmmmm...that's a mean lookin' truck. Armored+. Took the basic Brinks truck idea, along with an independent custom service, and mixed it up with my own ideas to come up with this bruiser of a rig. The 3/4 view of the robot? Suck. Trying to stretch him out to show everything really made him...less cool... than the pretty imposing impression the front and back views made...

....this way he looks like an outside linebacker, ready to crush everything in his path. While still not quite in the family of the movie-verse, this guy also held up fairly well when all was said and done, a little more slice and dice of the vehicle parts than usual, and with the addition of more complex gears and jointing, he fit the mold a bit better.

The transformation sequence...

Here is the action feature for this guy, and actually, I knew at this point that this guy was going to be a toy, so it lends itself better to an easier real-world transformation, because the arms were very complex in how they reformed from the side and roof of the rig. I thought if it was too much trouble, they could take it that way, and it wouldn't differ too much from the game character.

Meet Payload, the toy version of Armored Truck Drone. This vehicle mode is EXACTLY like the concept art, I was so excited and honored to see that, so cool! And the robot mode is great as well, they even managed to engineer around the crazy forearms, and make it really close to the game version and character design.

Payload...good name too...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

TF1 - Armored Truck Drone 01

Almost forgot one! While the Mixer was indeed the last drone done, this was done before...the Armored Truck drone. Meant to be another bruiser-type, he's got the big arms and hulking shoulders.

This submission was sent to Hasbro, with it being understood that this was a shape exploration, we hadn't really found an existing armored car to mimic, and I was coming up with one on my own, based on a variety of regular and custom trucks on the market.

After I got these drawings down, I had a better idea of the transformation break-ups, and what elements I was going to add to the truck -read 'diamondplate.' Lots of diamond plate. I can't remember which came first, the armored or the tow truck, but I made up the diamond plate textures for these, that I still use to this day.

Also needed was a graphic, so I came up with this, originally there where three stars, feedback from Hasbro rightfully suggested to add faction symbols into the logo. I read somewhere it was thought that the text was an acronym for ASS, but sorry, that was purely unintentional!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

TF1 - Mixer Drone 02

And the final art for the final transformer drone. I still like that it's an older truck, but I don't think it comes across in the bot - I still hadn't discovered the joys of texture layers in photoshop, nor really had a handle on painting in scrapes and scratches. And again the pose if pretty weak - you have to understand though, that some of that is attributed to the need to show as much as possible of every element, for the model builders to quickly create these characters based on the reference, and not have to spend too much time guessing what elements to create to fill in space, not shown in the concept art. Unfortunately, the guys at Traveler's took every pose to be the intended one, and and didn't add any character to it. I didn't communicate that it was the intention, and they didn't take advantage to add to the characters to make them better.

Too bad, because I still like the design of this guy, but again, re-proportioning and re-posing would have helped these characters a lot. Except for those shoulder pieces; I love the new movie Mixmaster, and they went all out with the reconfiguration of the cement drum - I wished I'd been able to get away with that! So I doubt that this guy will ever get a toy, with a far superior design, and in-movie toy already on the market, with the same name even!

And here's your basic transformation sequence.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TF1 - Mixer Drone 01

Oh, the mixer drone. Not happy with this one, I really wanted to stretch it out conceptually, and do a gorilla type pose, shorter legs, long arms, and a hunched over back. That top left one is the version I championed, and it really was the only time I got denied an idea. By this time (mid-July 2006) the movie concepts were locked, and ILM had begun building the models, and if I remember correctly, the reason they wanted the upright guy, is because that's what all (relatively) the movie characters were going to be like. I guess that's true, but Bonecrusher and Starscream were stretching that concept a bit.

So whatever- I submitted this version for approval, a little boring, but I took advantage and put some Prime vehicle cues in there. I think another issue was that Traveler's Tales didn't want too many additional parts to animate, so I had to scale back the break up of the cement drum, and basically do shoulder pads.

This is an eighties era mixer, I want to say a Mack, but quite a few vehicle parts were changed...pretty sure it's a Mack though.

And again, a little character action - not even sure if this concept made it into the game...?

Monday, October 19, 2009

TF1 - Tow Truck Drone 02

I like this guy a lot, he came out pretty rough and tumble, the diamond plate armor came across really well. The truck is based on an F250, with a fairly standard tow rig on the back. Originally green with the yellow lights, he was submitted blue. And then when the graphics for the movie tow truck were done, Hasbro wanted us to re-deco it to match.

The flow of the elements came out great I thought, this is one of the characters where I hit my stride, in this particular set of design rules. I tried to use as many real car parts as possible, not trying to rely on reforming parts too much, more of a recombination of elements. I was hoping this was going to match up to the movie stuff, but still was only getting peeks at the final ILM models at this point. Anyways, I thought it was cool, and in the end it probably matches the movie-verse the best, of the all the drone characters.

Apparently so much so, that the Man himself, Steven Spielberg commented that he wished they put this guy in the movie, while sitting through a game presentation from Activision. Both the main producers I worked with called me afterwards to tell me about it, and I just about died. That's really one the greatest moments in my professional life! I mean I have a framed Jaws poster in my office, how more of a fan could I be!?!

Meet Longarm, the toy version of this guy. He's great.

Friday, October 16, 2009

TF1 - Tow Truck Drone 01

So next up is the Tow Truck drone - I'm not sure of the order anymore, but I was sent a link about the new Hoist figure coming out on, based on this guy, sourced from the Alex Kubalsky Transformers Wiki page, who actually engineered the fig. Here's a quote:

"When designing movie Longarm, reference from Activision had not arrived, forcing Kubalsky to make up his own transformation scheme and robot design (which intentionally borrowed some elements from Generation 1 Hoist). By the time reference arrived, it was too late in the process to make any major changes, but Kubalsky was able to graft elements from the game model's chest and arms onto the newly-created design (which he felt worked out rather well). "

He also designed the Swindle figure, so it is he, to whom down I must bow. Say that five times fast. I apologize, I had no idea this guy was going to be a figure, or that there was any hard deadline for getting these designs finalized for the toy creation process.

At this point, on my side, I just heard they wanted a tow truck. There was no talk of making it the tow truck that drags Bumblebee around, it was just another vehicle to create a character for. That being said, I originally turned him in with a green paint job, figuring why not? Old fans will at least get the connection...but Hasbro was reluctant to go farther, because at the time, all of this was so new to everyone, games, toys, movie, they kind of wanted to save all the characters for the Bay-verse* instead of going all out with yellow cues, and hazard stripes, I just turned in a green one. It's awesome to read that on the other side of the world, that Alex, the toy designer, was pushing for the same thing.

But for the context of the film, it does make more sense to make him the tow truck that Mikaela and Bumblebee drive around with. And I'm not sure if this is even close to the movie truck, all I had was a keyframe that featured Bumblebee firing back as he was being dragged...

Here's the action feature, kind of a similar function to Bonecrusher's claw from that awesome freeway fight.

*I know people will say after that statement, WTF? You did Shockwave! Wait for the post about it!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

TF1 - Jet Drone 02

And so here is the final render. Meh. I think he's a pretty good design, but posed and proportion incorrectly - he just doesn't look badass enough. He's supposed to be able to hang with the movie Starscream, but I get the impression ol' Screamer wouldn't take but two seconds to dismantle this jet drone down to his landing gear.

These views don't help him out either, it gives the impression that he's very flat back, which wasn't really the intention, but I can see how it was interpreted that way. I did want to stay in the family of Starscream, but again, we were behind on getting the concepts, and at this point, all I had of Starscream was a rendered pencil drawing. Which in the end, stayed fairly close, but I probably ended up emphasizing the wrong things before seeing the final. And again, I now had this less-advanced-than-the-movie drone style established, so I needed to keep that consistant as well.

You know I'm proud of all my babies, but like I said, I'm glad I got a second chance at doing jets with the Seekers and Arielbots from the RotF game.

Of course I knew how these characters were breaking up in their transformations, and I thought the A to B transition in the illustrations were enough, but Travelers put in a request for me to show a transformation sequence to help them with the animation. So I basically chose a 50% stage, and highlighted in text the specific movements.

Meet Dreadwing, the jet drone toy. Despite my misgivings about the design work that I did, this is actually a great little action figure. He's really econonomical in his transformation, and doesn't have little bits that fall off as you transform him, and you can get pretty good poses out of him. Again, I bow down to the engineer who had to make this guy into plastic...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TF1 - Jet Drone 01

So after the first batch of drones were done, and beginning to integrate into the game, it became clear we needed some more, and Hasbro was happy to have us create a few more characters. They suggested a jet, but it couldn't be an American fighter, so I went with a Mig 29, because it closely resembled an F15. Well, not closely, but similar enough. The movie starscream existed at this point, but only in colored line art form, and it was in dispute between Bay and Hasbro, so I/we didn't know what was going to happen - was he going to stay the same, or get reworked in a more G1 style that Prime had been? So that kind of made it hard to design around, wanting to keep some G1 aspects...

...but make it clear it was it's own design. So I don't know, I've never been really happy with this guy, I'm at my worst when I have to design in a box, so to speak, and so I felt at the time he was going to be less successful as the others, and now looking back 2+ years later, I don't think he holds up. And even these sketches could have been taken in a better direction when I got to the final. It's not like I hate myself over this or anything, but we just didn't have the time to really explore ideas at this point, and it was go, go, go to get these guys to Travelers' Tales, to get them in the game. I certainly feel redeemed with the Arielbot and Seeker designs from the RotF game, so it's all good.

After that first three designs were being implemented by the developer, they asked for additional help with the layouts...originally I just gave a 3/4 front and back view for the alt mode, but they needed a plan set of views, so I started giving them these, and this was also the birth of the transformation sequence drawings...

...along with the beginning of these, the action sketches - which literally became the action feature of the toy, as well!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TF1 - Forklift Drone 02

Ah, my little forklift guy. This is my fave of the first game, he just kind of cracks me up. He's a little badass, rough and tumble kinda scrapper. The vehicle mode is a combo of two real forklifts, and I was really starting to figure out the mechanics of designing transformers by this point. He's also one of the pre-movie designs I did that can actually stand aside the movie characters without too much of a design discrepancy.

Even though it seemed more difficult to work with so little mass, it actually made things easier as I got to work - to keep as many vehicle cues as I could, that left not much other mass to work with, so he came in more streamlined in the end. I'm a little disappointed he didn't retain the potbelly look by the time he got into the game, but that's on me for not pushing it enough in the 3/4 profile view.

Meet Dirt Boss! I was a little sad his color isn't right, but since it's Constructicon Green, I can't complain too much! This guy wasn't released for the first movie's toyline, but he came in the first wave of the Revenge of the Fallen toyline. He's pretty great, favorite fig of all the first game guys, too...

Monday, October 12, 2009

TF1 - Forklift Drone 01

So now we have the big sized truck, the mid sized car, and on to the little guy - the forklift drone. I went right to the forks being the underarm weapon of choice, with the fork guard acting as shields for the shoulder, and that left not much mass for the body. So he basically unfolds, with the halfway point hinge at the back end.

This is the one that got picked from Hasbro, but I already had the dogleg going on with the truck drone, so I knew going in I would need to give him more humanoid knees...

And this is just the whirlygig idea, a defensive use for his forks, for close range combat with the player.

Friday, October 9, 2009

TF1 - Truck Drone 02

The finals for the truck drone. Originally just gray, after the toys were being decided on, Hasbro sent us their graphic preferences, so I took him to the paint shop, and matched up as close as I could to the toy. This is before I fully figured out how to keep a separate graphic layer, and know what other layers to keep separate, to make the changes really the purple doesn't blend very naturally. It gets the idea across, at the very least.

Again...'quaint.' I did weird stuff with the front wheels, and ignored the rear wheels, split up the glass in strange ways...of course I designed him before I knew he was going to be a toy, but I should have not sliced up too many of the elements - again needing to emulate what we were aware of at the time with the movie designs.

So this is Dropkick, and I think the toy design came out better than the game version that I did. Somehow I missed getting the bulk, and taking advantage of the mass that the truck has versus the car, and created a more spindly character than I meant to. This version of him pushes what I had started into a more well rounded design. He's pretty cool...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

TF1 - Truck Drone 01

The origins of the truck drone, AKA Dropkick. After making a good impression with Hasbro with the car drone, they said we could do more, and initially we were just going to do three. The car would be the middle range guy, and we needed something smaller and something bigger. The bigger was decided to be a pickup truck. Something that didn't compete with the Ironhide design as a vehicle, and something stood a little bigger as a robot.

I guess the one on the end was selected, but I had to drop out the tuck bed stuff - I can't really remember why at this point, but I think people responded to the pose more than anything else. Looking back, I think it would have made more sense to put the middle idea from above into this pose - make him a lot bigger, or at least the impression of size.

Again, a bit of character, having him be able to combine his arms into a gun - I didn't know ol' Megs was going to do that in the movie just yet...