When talking about the look of A Cat Called Jam, something we always wanted to have was an illustration look to the characters. Something not easily achievable in traditional 2d animation, so we drew on our knowledge of rigged 2d animation software Moho to achieve the look.

But where to turn for the initial designs. That’s when we found the fantastic Steph Laberis, her style of work was exactly what we wanted, and she was our first crew member, doing all first concept designs of all our main cast.

But Concept Designs are only the starting point and to explore the characters our friend and colleague Fran Bravo came aboard to do some poses and turnarounds of the characters.

We are glossing over lots of back and forth, retakes and discussions, with individual hairs added and taken away for each character to arrive at a final vector design. The characters were built and rigged in Moho Pro, an animation programme we had used on multiple tv series and feature films in our day jobs. (And we still do)

But we are not finished yet, once we had the characters rigged and tested we still had to figure out how to achieve the textured, illustration look we so loved from the original concepts. That’s when an upgrade to Moho Pro and Charles Kenway came to our rescue. The upgrade to version 13 of Moho Pro brought with it Bitmap drawing inside the programme and Charles was a key figure of the team in developing the brushes to be used in the new feature, so no better person to figure out the texturing of the characters inside Moho Pro itsself. He did a super job with the complex textures of the characters.

A Comparison Texture Model Sheet of Steph’s Design (left) and Charles Moho Texture (right)

We still had to test and tweak and adjust the rigs but we knew it was working when this first test of Max, fully textured had everything we wanted from the initial designs. The Max rig was built by Victor Paredes and test animation by Donal Mangan.

Making a short film is a long road but the designs are the first big visuals to be created and one of the first steps on that road.