Disney Infinity

An inside look at Infinity 3.0 by Game Informer in which some of my designs and I show up. 

                                                                  Watch Video Here

Darth Vader Concept  

Darth Vader design process - various artists
Darth Vader Design
Darth Vader early exploration
Han Solo Design

Han Solo Marketing pose. Tpose sculpt by Jeen Lih Lun. Pose by me and Matt Thorup.

Darth Maul design

Early Infinity concepts

My concept design for Infinity Mickey

Early exploration for Infinity art style. Concept and model by me.

These are some poses I did for Infinity. Whether it’s for a marketing shot or the physical toy, we use the same process. However, there are different constraints that need to be respected depending on whether the end product is a static image or a 3-dimensional toy. 

Early on I explore the toy pose using a rough animation rig. Usually at this point there’s no facial, hand, or cloth/hair controls but it’s enough to block in the big idea and get feedback from the IP holders, in this case, Marvel.
These are some things we consider for toy poses:
  • Will it physically stand on it’s own without drooping? (The plastic is soft when it comes out of the mold and may deform if pieces are too thin/heavy)
  • Is it friendly to the manufacturing process?
  • Will the pose fit on the base? (Out toy bases have fixed dimensions so they will fit on the reader platform)
  • Is the pose consistent with the character/brand?
  • Is it interesting from all sides? (If you turn it in your hand does it look appealing from more than one angle?)
  • Does the pose offer a unique or fun insight on the character

After a pose has been approved internally and by all external parties, (Marvel, Disney Marketing, etc.) A character artist takes the zbrush model and does a first pass on the pose. From there we’ll go back and forth, sometimes with drawovers and sometimes with just discussions to get it where it needs to be. 
below is one of Venom’s marketing shots. We use the same process for physical toys with the exception that if this were a toy pose we’d do draw overs from multiple angles or I'd make adjustments to the zbrush model to make sure it looks right in the round. When changes are too small or difficult to convey in words or with drawings it's easier for me to make edits directly in 3d. It’s a difficult balance between appeal and consistency. Marketing images have more freedom to mess around with the model since it only has to be viewed from one angle but toy poses need to respect the tiniest design choices that have been labored over to satisfy they toy’s many masters (Brand, legal, safety, etc.).  

Here's a random smattering of poses I did for various toy figures/marketing. Almost all of these started off with a low poly anim rig that I posed out. Then we went back and forth with Pixar/Disney/Marvel etc to get an approved pose. On Infinity 1 we painted over mental ray renders of the anim rig which was extremely labor intensive. There's only a couple images from Infinity 1 that I personally painted to final and it took the whole concept team to finalize the marketing images. On Infinity 2 character artists would pose out the zbrush model to match the animation rig. We'd go back and forth with drawovers and then render in keyshot. At this point only minimal paintover is required to get the final image. The downside to using the new pipeline is that there is no consistency of camera from maya(anim rig pose) to zbrush(model sculpt to match anim rig) to keyshot (final render). I end up having to guess as to how my draw over on a zbrush model will look in the keyshot camera. From a pose standpoint I prefer painting over the maya render since it allows more control but the time saving benefit and the quality of the render from using zbrush and keyshot is a reasonable trade off when our dev cycle for each game is so short. Blah blah blah....

Drax pose exploration with rough anim rig

Infinity 2 Nick Fury Concept

Disney Infinity early style exploration

Here I was playing with different ways to abstract the character into a "toy-like" design.

This was an attempt to balance the character's individuality with a unifying style-mold so multiple IP's would fit in the same world. I also suggested a magnet toy mechanic so kids could "swap" various body parts. This went along with the "mash up" theme of Infinity.

An advertising idea that would take iconic moments from movies and play with audience expectations by adding a new character. Again, this went along with the mash-up theme of Infinity.

Some character designs balancing the Infinity brand with the original IP

Toy pose exploration for Anna

Sometimes I'll prototype stuff in 3d just to make sure my drawings translate into the end product. There's probably nothing more frustrating for a character modeler than having to match a drawing full of 2-dimensional cheats. 

art direction/draw overs of outsourced concept art

Concepts for ToyBox Avatar House/Customization

Concepts/3d prototypes of Toybox toys

Prop design

Early on I thought it'd be interesting to do a little research so I could understand the toy market. This is far from scientific but was more an expression of my curiosity. One exercise I did was to take the 100 best selling toys from Toys R Us's website and break them down by which gender they were targeted towards. If they were gender neutral or seemed ambiguous I left them out of the count. I found that early on there were more toys targeted towards girls (boys were playing with more gender neutral toys) but at around age 5-7 it flips and more purchased toys are targeted towards boys and girls are buying either gender neutral toys or toys targeted towards boys. It was also interesting to note the changes in color scheme. Not a big surprise there but interesting to see a birds eye view and at which age things start to turn.

Some style stuff for the Incredibles playset. 

These are UI explorations for the Monsters University playset. Before Infinity was a thing this was going to be a stand alone game. Our team had some cool ideas for the scaring mechanic as well as how your actions have social consequences. For me one of the most interesting ideas was the teaching of emotional intelligence through this monsters on campus setting. I also tried experimenting with communicating through iconography so we could minimize the amount of reading/text in the game. This would make the game more accessible to younger players. Emoticons could communicate mood faster than a text box could just like body language communicates faster than words sometimes.