Didi is an adventurous 9-year-old girl, and is the center of the story. This is a brief snapshot of how she was developed – from the concept stages through to her appearance in game.
Didi: An adventurous 9-year-old girl, stuck in the middle of the dark, adult world of the 1920s.
Inspirations: Ofelia from Pan’s Labyrinth, and Miette from City of Lost Children.
To create Didi, we first had to have an idea of what we wanted from the character. We knew we wanted to tell the story about a little girl, and we knew our time period. However, a character’s appearance is often dictated by the story you want to tell – so we knew we had to get that right first.
Picturing Didi: What Did We Want?
Whitney Clayton (our concept artist) and Guillaume Provost (our creative director and founder) discuss the various inspirations behind Didi, and the reference material that was used to create Didi’s distinctive look (with our intern, Jake, deep in conversation in the background).
Introducing: The Understudy
However, character development and modelling takes time. While we worked on the final version of Didi, we had a number of stand in models that we used while we created the world. This is a ghost version of Didi that was used for at least 6 months of development.
Drawing the Concept
Whitney drew a number of concepts for Didi, but the black and white version you see here was the earliest. Once this sketch was done, we used it to create a reference for modelling.
Once we had the general concept for Didi ready, we needed to provide a reference image that could be used to create her 3D model. This T pose is used because it is a convenient way to give the modeler enough information to build her. The dress on the right is the final outfit used for Didi in game.
Modelling: Modern Sculpture?
Didi is made of thousands of 2D triangles, which all combine together. Creating a good-looking model is both a matter of skill and judgment. A higher number of triangles means more detail/quality, but also becomes more expensive to render in game. Balancing this can be a tricky process.
Textures: Adding Character to the Model
Once we have the model ready to go, we need to give it a coat of paint. We apply a 2D texture to the 3D structure, mapping the 2D to the 3D frame. This gives Didi the color and character you see in her model.
Animation: Breathing life into a model
Once we had the model ready for Didi, we needed her to move into the game. However, a model won’t move by itself. Sylvia Rack, our animator, creates Didi’s movements in Motion Builder, from her running animations to her hand, eye and mouth movements in cinematics.
Mostly, Sylvia does this by using reference footage – typically she will record herself or other members of the team performing the actions she wants to see in game, and uses that to create the animation.
We also need additional art and concepts to tell everyone about Didi, establish the world around her, and tell the story of the game. The above piece is one of our favorite character concepts of Didi, showing off her determined nature and unique look.
End Result: Didi in Action
So that is a (very) high level summary of the work that is required to create Didi in CONTRAST – hope you liked it!