The Crucible of Transmutationanecdotes about the creative process

Extreme Heroic Poses

Max Steel in flight suit

In 2012, the toy company Mattel embarked on an ambitious reboot of their popular Max Steel franchise. This endeavor included an all-new CGI animated series with a cool graphic look by Canadian company Nerd Corp. Concurrently, promotional still pictures for the web were generated at Brain Zoo studios in Los Angeles where I was tasked with creating and rendering characters in dynamic poses on the computer. Many of the images required exaggerated perspective effects as is typical of comic book art. I had to use some trickery to achieve a superhero comic look with the 3D Max Steel characters!

comparison of different cgi camera viewpoints
The exact same pose as seen from the render camera, and from the side.

The process for each image began with a sketch drawn by art director Tony Weinstock. Using Softimage, I posed an animation rig (from the TV show) based on Tony's sketch to create a computer-generated rendering. A wide-angle lens was not enough to cause the extreme distortion needed for the superhero look, so I essentially broke the character rigs to accomplish it. The only thing that mattered was how the character looked from the point of view of the render camera; therefore, I re-sculpted the characters, stretching and compressing as needed to get the crazy forced-perspective appearance. It was a lot of fun to use that particular technique which, although unusable in animation, succeeded perfectly for still images.

Max Steel in strength mode
Max charges in his gigantic strength suit. Compare to the side view below.
distorted cgi model
The same strength suit in side view reveals the scaled and stretched proportions.

Here are a few more examples of the hundreds of figures I posed and rendered for the Max Steel promotional campaign:

Cytro from Max Steel
Robotic villain Cytro.
Super villain Dredd from Max Steel
Archenemy Dredd.
Toxzon from the Max Steel animated series
Evil Toxzon with hand blades.
Extroyer from Max Steel television show
Mutated baddie Extroyer.
Water Elementor
The monstrous Water Elementor.
Demented villain Toxzon
The deadly Toxzon.
Max Steel in speed suit
Max in speed mode.
Max Steel is trademarked and copyrighted property of the Mattel Company
Article © 2017
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