Jelly Worms!

Last weekend NBC aired another new episode of 3-2-1 Penguins! Here’s some of the character design work I did for that episode.

For this episode my job was to design some jelly worm characters: a pair of prison guards, and a gigantic jelly worm creature that would swallow the bad guy’s spaceship.

I spent more time than usual on the color because jelly worms are slightly transparent. At first we thought we could show that easily by just dialing down the opacity of the worms a little. Unfortunately it turned out to be not so easy.

First, if you look at a jelly worm from the side you’ll notice that the closer you get to the center the less transparent it gets. This is due to the worm being thickest at the center and therefore letting less light through. However, a 3D animated character is not really solid but hollow, making it hard to imitate this lighting effect.

Second, in my research (yes, I researched jelly worms and got paid for it) I learned that the candy worms are rolled in oil to give them a shiny texture. This added another wrinkle to the way light behaves when it hits the jelly surface.

Finally, we had to be careful with any transparency around the face and mouth so that the teeth wouldn’t show through when the mouth was closed or that the eyes wouldn’t show through when the eyelids were shut.

I did my best to wrangle all these elements in my color concept paintings. Eventually it was decided that because of the rapid Penguins schedule we didn’t have time to try and solve all these problems. It was best to just make the jelly worms solid like all the other characters. Oh well. It was still a fun project to work on and in the end the worms still looked yummy!

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3 thoughts on “Jelly Worms!

  1. In ‘Finding Nemo’ Pixar had to develop special shaders to make the fish more translucent at the edges then the middle. As I recall, it was harder then they had assumed.

    I attended a Siggraph presentation on the subject.

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