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Introducing the Shaman, A Mystical Animation Mentor Character Rig

by | Mar 28, 2017

Shaman Animation Mentor Character Rig

Meet Aristotle—also known as the Shaman! He’s the third and final character in our Horde lineup and was created in partnership with our friends at Deisign Studio and via Artella, The Virtual Studio Platform. This character is exclusively available to Animation Mentor students and alumni, and he’s ready for action! We’re so excited to see what our students animate with this character. Read on to learn more about his backstory and how he fits in with the rest of the Horde.

-The Animation Mentor Crew

Shaman Character Rig

Final character design for the Shaman/Aristotle.

A big part of our character creation and design process is to come up with a theme and backstory for our characters. The previous theme had been around the Crew which included Aia, Jules, Sarge, Dozer, and more! The Crew was a group of spacefaring adventurers, and we wanted to build on to that idea with the Horde—an alternate faction with differing objectives.

the Horde

The final Shaman character design with the finished Viktor and Moya. The whole Horde!

The Horde is a group of of more militaristic characters with a sci-fi supernatural twist. We like to describe it as Alien meets Game of Thrones meets Star Wars: Clone Wars. Early on we defined the three archetypes we wanted to design: The leader, the muscle, and the mystic.

Aristotle’s backstory for the Horde character set was that he’s ancient. We’re talking 200 plus years old. But has only recently joined up with Viktor, the Overlord, and Moya, the Enforcer. He’s slow to adopt any new technologies and instead his outfit and approach is made up of an eclectic mix of the old and the new. On the team, he fulfills the role of the advisor and can seem incredibly innocent in one moment and quite sinister in the next. From a design standpoint, that meant we needed a wide range of flexibility on this character.

Adjusting Face Shaman Character Rig

Adjusting the Shaman facial pose. Getting fierce!

The backstory served as a means to help our team in making design decisions, so that we can create a distinct character for students to animate with. To that end we have two main outfits the rig can swap between, the Horde outfit and a civilian outfit. We fully expect students to modify the characters beyond the base we provide, but it gives a nice starting point.

Part of our design philosophy for these characters had us creating a mask for each design. It was a fun bit of flair and added visual interest, but had another purpose as well: that is, to be potentially used in more body mechanics shots with a more general look to the character.

Facial Design Shaman Character Rig

Facial design sketches, trying to find the character.

Animators are really actors behind the scenes, and the character rigs are the digital puppets used to convey those acting choices. We’ve kept that in mind as we developed the Tribe, the Crew, and most recently the Horde set of characters. We’re creating a large cast of characters for our students to choose from to give them the tools to create amazing and diverse demo reels, while also learning key animation principles.

In the case of Aristotle, we were really interested in designing an older character. It’s not something we’ve seen a lot on demo reels and will give animators a whole range of acting scenarios to play out. Having this range of characters to choose from can really help animators get into character. As students move on into a professional career in animation, they’ll be animating characters of all shapes, sizes, and ages. We want to help expose them to various options early in their educational journey.

Facial Fleshiness Shaman Character Rig

Getting used to the character within Maya.

Because of the age of the character we really emphasized the fleshiness of the face. It was a fun opportunity to really push the controls and range of motion to give animators a large range of options. We also made a point of making the scale attributes available on many of the facial controls to really allow for base changes to the look of the character. Just by tweaking the jaw size, nose placement, and scale, as well as a few other controllers, the character can look very different.

We’ve been seeing some really fantastic animation from our students and alumni with these rigs, and we just can’t wait to see what they create with this full cast of characters.

Want to know more? Get a behind-the-scenes look at the whole creative process and how we used Artella to create our Horde character rigs here!

Facial Poses Shaman Character Rig

Want to animate Viktor, Moya, and Aristotle?

Start your animation journey by learning with professional animators from studios like Pixar, DreamWorks, and Disney! Get more information about Animation Mentor’s Character Animation Program.

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