Hello! This is character modeler Yoshikaze Matsushita writing again. Last week, I wrote about the character creation seminar that Hollywood sculptor/character designer Hiroshi Katagiri gave for our modelers. Mr. Katagiri’s talk went over so well that we invited him back to PlatinumGames for an additional session with our animation and concept art staff.

Getting the Proper Pose

When Mr. Katagiri spoke to our modelers, he stressed the importance of capturing a character’s atmosphere. This time around, he added to that by focusing on how to pose a character to best convey that atmosphere. As Mr. Katagiri shared some of his own sculpture work, he explained that artists must create with an eye towards the directional flow of a character’s posture and their center of gravity. One particularly interesting point was when he highlighted the difference between a character simply striking a pose and the same character assuming a pose that conveys their atmosphere.

Poses in Action

Next, Mr. Katagiri brought out clay for a live sculpture demonstration. Previously, he sculpted a bust; this time, he would sculpt and pose a character’s entire body. Since he was working on the spot, he took suggestions for what kind of character to create:

Some of our impromptu suggestions:

  • Standing on one foot!
  • A main-character-ish hero
  • More brawn than brains
  • Male

After gathering a few suggestions like these and then trimming down the list, he arrived at a male hero, like you might find in an American comic book. With the character concept settled, Mr. Katagiri went to work!

Following Mr. Katagiri’s advice, we used our own bodies to check whether poses had a realistic directional flow and center of gravity.

Mr. Katagiri carefully explained the character’s musculature and joint positions one by one, answering questions from the audience as he worked. Despite that, he also finished the sculpture with incredible speed.

The completed figure beckons heroically! It’s like he’s saying, “you can be a hero, too!”

Mr. Katagiri completed this sculpture in about an hour! Thanks to the character’s pose and atmosphere, you don’t need minor details or even clothing to believe that he’s a hero. No matter how you look at him, here is a man you could follow into battle!

Lastly, Mr. Katagiri also showed us how changing the character’s pose – a tweaked arm angle here, a twist in the body there – can easily create a whole different impression!

Even though this particular seminar was meant for animators and concept artists, we character modelers were really looking forward to it as well. Though our different teams all play different roles, we all share the work of bringing characters to life.
Whether we create 2D concept designs, 3D character models or animations that move characters through space and time, we all benefitted from this in-depth look at the character sculpting and posing process. I hope we can use this knowledge to fill our games with even more unforgettable characters!

As a modeler, it was especially useful for me to hear the questions that animators and concept artists had for Mr. Katagiri. Their questions came from a different perspective than a modeler might typically offer. We all really appreciate Mr. Katagiri for coming back!

katagiriHiroshi Katagiri 
Hiroshi Katagiri moved to the United States in 1990 at the age of 18. At 19, he began working in a studio run by special effects artist Joji “Screaming Mad George” Tani. After that, he went freelance as a character creator for film and TV. He won an Emmy award in 1998 for his makeup work on The X-Files.
From 2000 to 2006, he worked as one of the main artists at Stan Winston Studio, a Hollywood effects house famous for is character work in such films as Terminator, Alien and Jurassic Park. While at Stan Winston Studio, Katagiri worked on A.I., Jurassic Park 3, The Time Machine, War of the Worlds and more.
Nowadays, in addition to creating characters for a wide variety of films as a freelancer, Mr. Katagiri strives to provide guidance to the next generation by leading sculpture seminars in both the United States and Japan.

matsushitaYoshikaze Matsushita
Yoshikaze Matsushita graduated from the Osaka University of Arts and joined PlatinumGames in 2014. In addition to modeling the enemy characters that appear in our recent NieR:Automata, he also created the “Emil head” mask that fans know and love from director TARO YOKO’s public appearances.