I have always been fascinated with how 3D artists can take something that only exists in the mind of an artist in 2 dimensions, and extend it into the 3rd dimensions, breathing life into something that was purely imaginative.
Additionally, Adventure Time’s artworks for its title cards has always been amazing, showcasing a wide range of content and art styles. This is my take on the title cards of three classic episodes, bringing the show’s surreal, rubbery world closer to our own.
Ocean of Fear
Ocean of Fear’s title card is instantly recognisable, and one of the least abstract, so it made sense as an entry point for this project. Modelling the tank, submarine, crashed helicopter, and buildings was easy. However, what took a very long time was texturing the ground. The original ground surface material was difficult to replicate, trying everything from cotton to clouds, to the source image itself. In the end, I mixed sand and mud PBR textures to get a really satisfying look. This prompted my decision to mix the flat colours that I was originally going for, with some realistic materials to get a truly surreal art style.
Thank You is another breakout classic from the show, and it’s heartwarming story is alluded to in the title card, with the snow golem’s hand melting whilst handling the fire wolf pup.
The blend of realistic and stylised is seen again here with a realistic snow for the ground and realistic charcoal texture for the pup, whilst the remainder of the textures are simple. This was a tough artwork to nail, despite its simplicity, due to the stylised shapes of the clouds and trees, and the extreme perspective distortion of the snow golem which had to warp the proportions of the character to make it work. It’s easy to see now see that what looks reasonable on a flat image, does not always make sense spatially.
Hall of Egress
My absolute favourite Adventure Time episode also has a rather bland official title card, being just the hall itself as Finn sees it before his entry. However, this was not intended to be the original title card, with the original (and conceptually superior) one shown below in the storyboard sketch. This was the main design I adopted for this project.
Nevertheless, I could not do this episode justice without modelling the iconic hall itself. I opted to model the hall as it appears later in the episode, the way a blindfolded Finn would “see” it: within a rocky desert landscape, with the hall itself inset into a mountain. This also had the added bonus of me avoiding the modelling of a tonne of vegetation which bores me to tears. I enjoyed this scene so much that in addition to the animation, I rendered the landscape in isometric view (below) showing the (excessively) stony texture I mixed for the terrain, and the hall modelled in all its splendour, with a tiny Finn standing in front of it.
23rd November 2019 Update
I’ve strung this article into a YouTube video, with my rendition of the Island Song music based on the arrangement by Baobao Zhang.