I designed Ace and Nina in the early days. Before we had anything to show. Before we were worth mentioning. But now that we’re building an audience (And getting some incredibly optimistic press) I wanted to get everyone excited to play the game. I have 2 new big, huge opportunities to do so in the completion of the Echoes cast, and I don’t intend to waste either of them. Meet JAM!
JAM was intended from the beginning to be a robot from Enki’s facilities. This means it gave me a great excuse to make him non-bipedal or fully non-humanoid. And who doesn’t love dogs?
Echoes of Eridu, among other things, is an homage to the team’s various inspirations. JAM is a mash-up of stuff that has inspired me. (One property in particular.)
JAM was a challenge, because he needed to read as a reference, but also needed to have character and individuality. Also skirting the line between cool and cute is a delicate balance, but JAM had the opportunity to be loveable, and I went for it. He is the faithful companion to the Champions of Eridu, and he needed to look the part.
I started by googling “Dog Ears” and trying out a bunch of different shapes. When I settled on one, I returned to the rest of the body. While some design elements (Back legs and body) came easy, others involved some problem solving. Check his front shoulders in this design. They were WAY too far apart to work well. When I tried to draw him sitting, the legs where a mile apart from each other, and the bulky shoulders on either side weren’t cute, they were awkward. You’ll never know if your design has a problem unless you articulate the character. Breathe some life into them. Draw them doing some stuff they’d do. If you struggle with your original concept, change it. The designing and posing process should be fluid. Give yourself the freedom to make changes, and never lock yourself in.
After these doodles, it was obvious the solution was to build the legs into the frame. A conclusion I never would have reached had I not tried to pose our little guy. As a concept artist, you’re stuck in the mythos you’re given. Meaning you’ll be asked to make some cool or cute designs with some pretty uncool/uncute materials. But anything can be cute! WALL.E isn’t fuzzy, but darn if he isn’t cute as a button! In this case, the round nose and the tiny beady eyes communicated the message just fine.
I was going to keep this out of the description, but I may as well address the TARDIS in the room. 😉 I knew I wanted design principles from the show to shine through, and using K-9 was a thought that hit me like a ton of bricks. That combined with some more iconic imagery, (The Sonic screwdriver, the TARDIS bulb) made up the bulk of my design process. I just wanted him to be lively and encapsulate what I love so much about that universe. I’ll keep his Interactions sheet for another post. For now, enjoy JAM, and keep spreading the word and helping us out on Kickstarter! The response has really been inspiring. See you next week with BLITZ!