I've got a various number of sketches and design pieces that are along the lines of what I want the character to become. So taking these and creating a mood board of my own sketches really helped me get a feel for what is working, what is not and overall mixing some different design aspects together.
Having decided I want the animation mood to be green I've began using various green colours as a base to sketch. This is helping with seeing how things may look in the overall scheme but also help sell an overarching theme between all my concept pieces.
'A' has some nice broad shoulders, but his legs seem out of place. he almost looks like an amputated body on stilts. 'D' and 'H' fit a build that fits a military design but comes across as very strict while 'I' seems almost comical because of his stubbyness. I took to 'B' because I felt this gave a balance between the stocky build that is capable of being strict and loud but with an influence of informal approach. More along the lines of Ex-Veteran over Veteran, which would make more sense in his situation of dealing with a bunch of knuckleheaded chickens.
Taking this sketch and exploring more I found his front view though strong, really left open the side view to have a number of proportions that still fit the same front perspective. This really highlighted to me how important multiple views of characters can be. A few elements I am currently doing thought over are the arms and still questioning on the legs. The arms are a matter of how I want to layer the feathers. I do like separating the arms as a separate shade of feathers breaking his body, arms and head into different parts that are easier to read.
His legs on the other hand are still in question due to chicken legs bending the opposite direction. Although functionally would be correct to bend backwards, it makes some posing of the character both difficult to read and less relatable. 'F' Although his upper body reads as relaxed, his legs struggle to communicate the same, they look uncomfortable even though correct. My thoughts on the dilema are to keep the leg mechanics to that of a chicken and drive the main bulk of posing through his upper body. This Should work well with his feet in IK, though I imagine posing that would be more FK would perhaps look odd. i.e. Sunbathing.
Some colouring information to get a feel for how he could look both with the green colour scheme I am looking toward. Added some lighting information with different styles. a cell shaded approach and a gradient approach with a strong rimlight.
Updated Animatic to help read some details and added a shot depicting the storm. Though the animatic will be going through an overhaul to incorporate some new elements.
Similar to my character design I started to pull the various pieces I had done so far and incorporated them into a mood board to get a feel for the direction I am headed.
Starting to consider the type of farm, given my character is ex military and is only dealing with a small number of chickens I want to have the farm feel smaller, like a local village farm out in the country more so than an industrial farm. The industrial farm gives some good military vibes but would entail a larger population of chickens. As such would also look much more fortified than that of a smaller farm.
I considered different fence types, then different structure types and used the fences along-side the structure to get a feel for how it compliments the environment as a whole. I also know that a big part will be tackling the interior design of the location and considering its function. The farm will mainly be manual labor and thus the chicken coop doesn't have anything majorly automated.
Finding an interior that doesn't come across as too CG with copy-pasted elements and enough variation is key. I want various props scattered about without being too heavily duplicated.
I re-rendered one of my test sculpts of the feathers with a green lighting to get a feel for how the lighting could be used to emphasise the look I am going for.
On top of this I went into Zbrush to also experiment with other methods to sculpt detail without taking quite as much time as this previous one. What I am considering is using a mix of both with bulky feathers for parts such as the neck and arm where the feathers change and the below technique to add some subtle surface detail the the feathers overall.
This will need some further exploration but the exercise has expanded my skill set to consider new approaches.
I also tried a geometry method in maya using layered meshes. This wouldn't be super clean for rigging and my intention would be to take it into a sculpting package to clean up afterward anyway. So I felt this approach wasn't all that effective.