Q: How did you get involved in the designs for John Carter?
It all started for us with producer Colin Wilson. We had worked with him on "Avatar" and he really liked the way we were using digital sculpting and rapid prototyping as a fast efficient Character design tool.
The production had already gone through 9 months of development with Iain McCaig and his team. We were brought on to do designs just as Iain was leaving. We were not really privy to the work that had been done before us, other than a rough maquette that Iain had art-directed. I guess the thought was start fresh, see where it takes us. Andrew Stanton and Mark Andrews definitely led that charge!
They sat with me during live zbrush sessions drawing on tracing paper on the screen (that's old school photoshop) Even though we did not see the artwork that was generated before we started ( for the Tharks) after all was said and done they turned out surprisingly similar to what Iain's team had done. So those guys really deserve more credit than they got on the film for sure. In the end John Carter was a huge group effort by some amazingly talented artists.
Q: How much were you inspired by the novels in your designs?
Q: The director, Andrew Stanton, said he wanted to go "straight dog" in the design of Woola. How hard was it to come up with a balance between dog and alien?
Woola was a lot of fun. A lot of really good artists did work on him, so it was more about cobbling together all the best ideas into the ultimate dog/alien. Andrew would say "if a toad was a dog or a lizard was a dog" so really what it came down to was personality more than a "Dog." So, I would put all the designs into ridiculous dog-like poses things that made us laugh!
Q: The different looks of the Martians all had a specific feel. How hard was it to come up with designs that were true to the books, but fresh for the screen?
The character inside the character was Andrew's main thing. John Carter had to relate to these Tharks. so we tried to distill down a look that would define each characters emotional state at a glance. It may seem one dimensional but it works. For example, I used Clint Eastwood as the Tars Tarkus "ideal" he is stern and impassive. I knew if I could get that feeling into his face I was on the right track.
Sola was "Sad" , Sarkoja was "B**ch" , Tal Hajus was "disgruntled," seems a bit simple to break it down that way but that was the thinking, a simple visual cue to tell you who you were dealing with.
Q: Was your make-up artist experience helpful when you were designing the creatures?
Q: Was there a character you designed you were most excited to see on screen?
Well that would be a toss up. I have always loved Tars Tarkus. I have a soft spot in my heart for him and wanted him to be great, but I was really excited to see the Thoats (The big Beasts of burden). I loved the final design on those, which is strange for me I usually end up hating my designs by the end of a show.
Q: Was there a story from the production you'd like to share?
One moment that stands out for me. It was after the Tharks were designed and we had a 3D printed maquette of Tars Tarkus sitting in my office.
We had shown the Maquette to Andrew and he loved it.
After that, we started going over some new designs for the thoats or something. Andrew was making his notes and I was changing and sculpting it live. I noticed that Andrew kept glancing over at the maquette out of the corner of his eye. This went on for about an hour. Andrew kept looking over, it looked like he was getting agitated. I was starting to worry that he was having second thoughts about the design. Finally Andrew starts to laugh this embarrassed kind of laugh. He looked over and said 'I have been looking over at the maquette and thinking, “Man, I wish I was directing that movie...I so jealous of that guy.... I hate that guy..."then I thought, Hey wait!, I'm directing that movie!!' He was psyching himself out. He was so used to thinking about the book and movie being so far away, that he forgot how close it was to happening.
So, from then on, if you liked something you were doing you would say “I'm so jealous of that guy”
Thanks Scott! You can read more about Patton and see his portfolio at www.scottpattondesign.com/.