The Job part 5 - ILM / ArtStation Challenge

The fifth part of the last round of the ILM challenge was much more in my wheelhouse, and I had a lot of fun with it. The brief gave two options to chose from, one was to develop a Danji warrior princess design (which, considering my initial sketches of the Danji, would be challenging to make at all attractive) and one was to design a droid based on a rough sketch:

Design, develop and present your character with images you feel best represents your skills. There is no minimum or maximum—just amazing. Based off the previous challenges you should know what to do.

Droid Option

• There is a droid that accompanies the Danji. Lets see some sketches of what that might be.
• Director's notes (Droid option): We need more toys. I’d like to see the equivalent of R2D2 but from the Danji side. Personality-wise he should be a bit “younger brother” always pestering R2, and later in the story they bond. I did this sketch at lunch with the producers. Have the guys interpret what they think it might be. Maybe start with this then do some others ideas.
• Lets call him DD-3.

Before going into a lot of sketches, there were a few things I wanted to keep in the back of my mind with this one. Firstly, I thought it'd be neat to stick somewhat to the special effects possibilities available at the time of the original Star Wars trilogy and use that as a guideline for my design as well. R2D2 originally needed an actor inside to operate it, and this constrained the design naturally. Now, DD-3 is supposed to be R2D2's smaller brother so presumably this means it will be an RC prop but it still has to be able to navigate and operate on set with actors. Secondly, the director's note specifies the need for more toys so there are a few things to keep in mind when designing DD-3 -for example, the mono wheel sketch could be cool but would be really impractical in a toy as the droid would fall over constantly. With that in mind, I set out to do some quick sketches.

I first settled on something like the above and even though I wasn't completely happy with it yet there were a few ideas I really liked. The Danji culture I had come up with so far come from a planet with a lot of water, so I figured DD-3 somehow needed to reflect this and be able to cope with an environment like that better than other droids in the Star Wars universe. I came up with the side wheels in a flipper-type housing, so that on land he could roll around on wheels while in the water he'd be able to paddle around (or use the thrusters!).

Much like the plethora of tools R2D2 hides inside, I thought it'd be neat if DD-3 had a set of crab like arms dropping out of the bottom of his head, a bit like jellyfish tentacles. I liked the general jellyfish shape of the head, but I wanted to set DD-3 apart from R2D2 and BB-8 a little so I played around with the head shape some more.

At this point, I realized I still wasn't happy with the design. I liked some features, but overall it felt too stiff and too much like a crappy R2D2. The proportions were off. I went back and did some more sketches and came up with the solution as seen at the top. The six swivel wheels give DD-3 a lot more motion than R2D2 which I felt would work really well for their brotherly rivalry, while at the same time allowed for DD-3 to express more emotion. It also gave him a bit of a crablike ability, which would work well as a reference to sea creatures again. I also changed his livery to match the Danji culture I'd come up with so far more while still retaining enough of the R2 type droids livery to make him part of the family.

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