As I started to visualise what Lily would look like, it was really close to the girl in Edwin Tatum's poster. The girl in the poster looks about 5-6 years old. I was thinking of having the movie based around that same girl. After a talk with the clients however, they thought that it wasn't appropriate for a girl that young to be roaming around graveyards or memorials alone (or in buses, after they viewed the first animatic, before the bus was cut from the story). So I decided that it might actually be better to make her a bit older, around 9-10 years old, so its also easier to watch. I will still go through the process of Lily's development in this post. Initially, I liked the idea of green and yellow lines for her hair similar to the color tones in the poster, but more defined. I had a few initial sketches of her that looked something like : But this idea was not defined enough to use as a character reference sheet for modelling. I tried doing some more sketches of her to try and define her some more, hoping at the same time to maybe get some of her character out through expressions and poses.
These sketches were ending up a bit too expressive and comical, and also too much definition of the lines on the hair wasn't looking very pleasing. I had imagined in the movie for Lily to be quite delicate and expressing her emotions subtley and directly, sort of like the prolonged feel of Kunio Katō's La Maison En Petits Cubes [vimeo]http://vimeo.com/12422039[/vimeo]
So I was a bit unsure of the direction I should take with the character design as we needed to start modelling soon. Thankfully that week we had a character design workshop with Vincent Woodcock and he went around looking at all of our projects helping us with our respective character designs. For ours, he said that it wasn't good that I was drifting away from the simplicity of the character design in the poster, because thats what makes it so appealing. He did a few sketches of an older Lily that looked like :
We discussed what she should be wearing and decided that for animation purposes it couldn't be the dress that she was wearing in the poster, as it would be a lot harder to animate follow-through from the top of the dress as well. Also for aesthetic purposes, she was older now, and that dress was looking like a nightgown on her.
So we decided that she should wear a school-dress, like a box-pleat pinafore. It also added a bit to the story to say that she was on her way to/back from school, as it made sense why she was carrying a bag around. The bag was really important to the story as thats what the papers fly out of. So Vincent left me with these ideas to work on. The pinafore was better as we could cinch her waist and have just the skirt animate rather than the whole dress. This is what I came up with:
Also, her hair could be two seperate bits, rather than just one whole piece during modelling as it would be easier to rig for animating slightly in the wind.
I liked the idea of having her hair split at the bottom, both at the fringe and at the back as it added a little character to the girl. There would still be stripes on her hair, which would show in texturing. Settling for this version of Lily, we moved ahead with modelling.