Eddy is the embodiment of “an idea” and starred in a print campaign to promote O2′s clever business tariffs. Bringing Eddy to life off the page and into 3D reality was an exciting and precise experience.
Rothco wanted Eddy to have his own inner energy, to illuminate the things around him and exude a welcoming glow that warmed the viewer. We agreed that he simply had to elicit an “aaahh!” from O2′s audience – a really emotional response to help humanise the campaign’s businesslike message.
Concept artist Stephen Trumble worked with us to bring our little character to life: “Eddy as a character is supposed to be a positive representation of ideas, so he had to embody that visual metaphor whilst also looking fun, happy and tenacious,” Stephen explains. “So I started doing rough sketches to provide us with options that went to both extremes – some that looked a lot like a light bulb and some that were more fairytale creature – and a kind of evolution between the two.”
With this mission in mind, we started to model various Eddies in 3D, playing with a multitude of options. Eddy as an indistinct energetic glow was bright but harder for the viewer to identify with; Eddy as a strongly-defined lightbulb shape gained instant recognisability – but just didn’t feel quite as fun.
Our character artist Greg Coelho then began to mould simple shapes in 3D with which to play around.
“Eddy’s personality had to be friendly, he had to be cute, small and attractive. To make something cute the easiest way is to use smooth shapes like circles, something that could not hurt you; for example a triangle or cube can be a lot more aggressive then a smooth shape.”
- Greg Coelho, Character Artist, Saddington Baynes
“To get the right effect I’d draw Eddy in various characterful poses – often dancing or skipping. It was very clear if the design wasn’t working if Eddy looked uncomfortable in those happy-go-lucky poses.”
- Stephen Trumble, Character Artist.
To make sure we were capturing Eddy’s full personality, it was important to consider him not just as an individual character, but in terms of how he’d relate to others. This helped us make sure Eddy looked young and exciting, appropriate to a bright new idea, but not naively or childishly young.
“At one point we even gave Eddy a whole family: a little brother, a big brother and a sister,” Stephen explains. “The sister was quite fun because the screw-in swirls formed a skirt. We ended up not going with the “family” idea, but it was a good exercise to make Eddy feel like part of a species.”
Once Eddy’s shape had been settled on, it was time to explore different material effects. In this case, Eddy’s translucency made such a big difference to the way people felt about him that we had to judge it right. The harder versions didn’t exude the sense of inspiration as well as the more translucent, almost fairy-like depictions:
We also didn’t want to be too detailed in his portrayal, as this would have compromised the notion of Eddy representing such an intangible thing as “an idea”: “Everything had to be a simplified version of the real thing otherwise he would have looked too complex, like a robot,” Stephen reports. “Keeping it simple made the character more effective, not least because he’s representing an abstract thing: an idea.” This extended to the very nature of the glow that Eddy emits: should it be distinct or vague?
The conclusion was reached that these light particles should not have their own source of light or be too sharply defined, as this was distracting and pulled focus from Eddy himself. Rather, he has an aura of indistinct circles lit by Eddy’s own light, meaning the lighting effect is achieved whilst the viewer’s attention stays firmly on him.
But one crucial element had to be chosen, and it’s an element that works harder than any to give Eddy his lovable, open, slightly ponderous expression: his eyes.
Eddy’s eyes went through numerous variations to make him evoke the right response in the viewer: “It was fascinating how subtle differences completely changed the mood of the character: For instance the smaller and closer together the eyes were, the more sinister Eddy looked; the further apart they were, the less emotional.”
The versatility of our CGI modelling process was an empowering tool throughout this process, allowing us and the client to quickly and easily generate and discuss modified versions and capture exactly the desired expression on Eddy’s face.
Once every last detail had been explored, tested and agreed, Eddy was rendered out and treated to a full SB colour grade before we sent him out into the business world.
Read our Character Artist Greg Coelho’s tips on How to Craft a Character.
See more of our characters below: