Yes, that was me.
Welcome to the Two-Headed Cop production blog!
I’m the director, Derek Friesenborg, and over the next year or so I’ll be giving you the inside skinny on our progress as we create this complex, almost half-hour animated short. Currently, we are still in pre-production, but are nearing the start of animation. The film has almost thirty unique character designs, of which we have about twenty finished. So far those have been translated into thirteen models, and the first few finished rigs are about to roll off our assembly line, ready to be animated.
The main character, Two-Headed Cop, has, as you may have surmised, two heads. One Asian, one Caucasian, both named Ray. As part of this intro I thought it would be cool to include some early designs for C-Ray and A-Ray, as we’ve come to call them. (Or him. Either way.)
These were created by our star designer, Anna Wilkenfeld.
You can find more non-2HC related drawings from Anna at her deviantArt page here: http://adoradora.deviantart.com/gallery/
She’s awesome! Or the bee’s knees, as it were.
More on how this whole shebang got started in the next post.
Thanks for tuning in,
A few posts ago I showed some early designs of 2HC, so I thought I’d follow up with some more to show a little of his evolution. Once again, these were drawn by the inimitable Anna Wilkenfeld.
We wanted to get Anna to do our designs not just because she’s incredibly inventive and a talented draughtswoman, but also because of her unique sense of humor.
I think all those qualities come out in this drawing, which was one of the first full-bodied sketches where I felt like we were really seeing him. It was important to make sure it didn’t look like two guys bound together and running a three-legged race, and I think this was successful in that regard.
These were the last drawings she did for the faces, which were then colored in by me before passing on to the modeler. (More on that at a later date.) Looking back I feel like A-Ray doesn’t look completely Asian here, and as we got into the modeling phase some adjustments were made that I think helped that. However, we love the looks and attitudes that Anna achieved with these guys. C-Ray is doughy, grizzled and a bit of a lout, and A-Ray is quietly intense.
The last drawing Anna did for the full-bodied 2HC is this awesome action shot, with some poor galoot receiving chin music from A-Ray’s loafer. You can see Anna got the ‘40s suit style down, with the baggy trousers and high waist line.
The other thing that Anna achieved here, which is a goal I have for as much as possible during animation, is that the middle leg works equally well for A-Ray’s pose as it does for C-Ray’s pose, which isn’t as easy as it looks. That should be a fun challenge for the animators.
Slippery Joe has become one of my favorite characters in our story. He’s a pickpocket who can slip and ooze through a crowd with ease. But while he’s a petty criminal - and a snitch - he’s still an all-around amiable fellow. Here’s a description from our original pitch bible:
“Joe’s a pickpocket with a gift for the lift, and he’d sell out his own grandma for a stick of gum. Two-Headed Cop taps him for the underground skinny, but he’s a hard man to get a hold of. Literally. Handcuffs can’t hold him, and he can steal the shirt off your back without you knowing.”
One thing I’ve found useful in getting the design process started is finding reference imagery of actors, outfits, attitudes, anything that I think of when I imagine our characters. Sometimes it’s not about how the actor looks, but the demeanor or attitude. The reference pictures can be meant as a vague starting point, or a more definite blueprint. For example, I found a great catalog of clothes from the ’40s which has proven invaluable for nailing down styles with our designer, Anna, as well as the modelers.
Here are some of the images I sent to Anna to get started on Slippery Joe:
So, clockwise from the top left that’s Steve Buscemi, Roman Polanski, a weasel, and David Byrne in the big suit. We liked different aspects of each of these (like Steve Buscemi’s eyes and creepy smile) but the point wasn’t necessarily to make a Frankenstein’s monster of the different parts we liked, but to use as inspiration. The suit was thought of for practical reasons as well, so that he’d have a place to store all the items he’s pilfered. Anna took that in a funny direction in an earlier sketch.
It’s funny, but we wanted Joe to be more sleek and fluid, which she nailed in the final drawing at the top. I particularly love the crazy-long fingers.
One of the reasons I’m so happy with how he turned out was that Anna not only incorporated the references well, but turned it into something entirely of her own creation, which is exactly what you want in this kind of collaboration.