During the past couple of days I’ve been working on a process to allow us to convert digital pop-ups into real, hold in your hand and play with, pop-ups. As part of doing this I needed to reconstruct one of the earliest scenes we made for the game: the iconic sakura tree scene. I thought that since I had to rebuild the scene that it might be interesting to people to see the rough stages we go through to get to a final scene in the game.
First of all we construct the pop-up skeleton. This gives the basic shapes that the scene will have and is constructed using the paper kit that we have developed. In the kit there are various shapes such as v-folds and parallel-folds and you can specify the size that they should be and how they connect together. This step is perhaps the most important and most tricky as you have to be able to visualise what the final scene should look like. Normally it’s an iterative process. Jennifer will build an initial version of the skeleton. She then gives this to Ryo to look at to see where we might need to make some changes from an art perspective. Jennifer and Ryo then discuss the layout and go back and forth making changes until they’re happy with the basic shape. Another important thing to check is that the scene folds totally inside the base card. Although the images shown here are in the open state, the scene does fold from the very first skeleton version.
Because I was recreating an existing scene I already knew what the skeleton should be like. The image below shows the initial skeleton for the tree scene. As you can see it looks nothing like the final scene!
Once the skeleton has been finalised we can start on the second part which is cutting. We call it cutting because it’s exactly the same as you would do if you had paper and scissors. The geometry of the original shapes is cut into the shapes that we want. Again this requires a fair amount of experimentation so we usually keep the uncut version of the scene around in case we need to go back to it at some point.
The image below shows the scene in various stages of cutting. First the background mountains are cut, then the mid-ground trees and then the foreground elements.
After cutting has been completed we can apply decoration to the scene. Decoration is additional layers that can be added on to existing folds. These can be added anywhere as long as they are added in exactly the same plane as an underlying fold. It’s possible to create a layered effect with decoration by slightly offsetting each piece of decoration. Sometimes it is hard to decide whether to cut or whether to decorate as in many cases both can achieve the same thing. For example in the image below the tree could equally well have been cut. Usually it just comes down to experience and knowing what is best for a given situation. One advantage with decoration is that we have a library of common decoration such as grass, bushes and rocks which can be easily reused.
The image below shows the scene with decoration added. The decoration is shown in a darker green so you can see more clearly
With these stages complete the scene is now ready for texturing and lighting.