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Molyneaux: Game Production Art

Peter Pan

When I took over design work on the Pan project, in addition to story and gameplay changes, I deemed it necessary to take the character design in a different direction than had been employed in early test work. This necessitated my taking on art direction tasks in order to put the product on the correct path.

Peter & Peter

Left: Early "storybook" Peter Pan
Right: My spritely reworking.

While liking the "storybook" feel of the early work, particularly the beautifully painted backdrops, I felt the characters needed to be somewhat cartoonish, allowing for the "gags" in the product to play properly. Thus, I sought to strike a happy medium: expressive, cartoonish characters with enough facial shading and detailing to allow subtle expression of emotion, and also make them fit well into the backdrops.

Wendy & Hook

Wendy & Hook mug in exploratory renderings.

Unfortunately, when the new animation director came aboard, many of the characters were simplified or changed, and virtually all of the expressive detailing was lost. Furthermore, many characters did not look the same from scene to scene ("off model" in animation parlance), and Peter and Wendy never looked as slyly mischievous and prissy, respectively, as I had wanted.

Charcter sketches

Character design sketches.

Peter crows Wendy & Hook

From my sketchbooks:
Peter crows & Wendy faces Hook.

The sketch (left) of a flying Peter crowing is my favorite, because it captures precisely the exhuberance of the character as I read him in "Peter and Wendy".

Pan character models

Color character models:
Setting the style for the artists.

Many of the minor characters that I created were lost when the product was trimmed, and fully one-quarter of the scenes (half of Act Two) were eliminated.

One early decision was the need for a tool for "backing up" the story. I quickly hit on the idea of an hourglass, and, in a burst of inspiration, realized that the "hourglass figure" could be animated as a caricature of Mae West: hand on hip, fussing with her hat. "Come up and see me sometime!"

Animated 'Mae' Close up of 'Mae' Animation cycle

My "Mae West" Hourglass icon.
With complete animation cycle

At one point the development team in Budapest substituted their own "hourglass"...not understanding the "Mae West" caricature. To E.A.'s credit, Mae was quickly reinstated, and appears (with minor retouching) in all of the Story Painting products).

My one regret is that she giggles when clicked on, rather than voicing a throaty "Oooo!"

Wendy Darling

From my sketchbooks:
My first take on Wendy.

THE Hook

My (unused) design for a truly nasty "Hook"
(part can-opener, part harpoon).

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