Hello everyone! Lingyun "LukeHop" Hu here to tell you about our latest champion, Ivern, and how we used animation as a tool to strengthen and define his character.
A character's personality is always the first thing we need to nail down before we begin production. It's the most important element to make the champion stand out from others and affects every aspect of art production. Ivern began as a peaceful, mysterious, zen type of character, but we wanted him to be more of a springy, energetic oddball. This was partly to distinguish Ivern from Maokai or Zyra, both of whom use the power of nature in a violent and aggressive way.
As the most frequently played animation in League, run cycles are treated as foundational when building a character. Even though it's just a couple of seconds of animation, it may take us several iterations before we finally having a satisfying piece. I wanted Ivern's run cycle to feel like he's a gardener walking around his garden. He's comfortable, confident. He enjoys exploring his kingdom. I lifted up his spine, raised his head, and let him do really big, over-the-top strides to emphasize that. After the base movement speed run was done, we needed to do different versions of run cycles to match Ivern's speed when he has boots or other speed buffs.
Next up, the Green daddy's idle animation! The idle animation is the first thing you usually see as you enter the game and it's the core component that connects nearly every other animation. So we need to make sure it perfectly matches the character and also has a unique shape. For Ivern, we decided to avoid the traditional "lumbering tree man" archetype and highlighted his nature-enhanced limberness. We rigged up a special right arm for him which allows it to stretch and twist like vines.
The Recall animation is also super important for building personality. It's a good opportunity for animators to show a shining performance in about nine seconds. My idea was that, as a friend of forest, Ivern cares about everyone's life and would want to bring them to a safe place… in a fun way!
All the locomotion animations are light-hearted, but sometimes Ivern needs to fight for his team. Even though he's a gentle soul, Ivern is still able to teach you a lesson when you want to hurt his friends. The question for our animators was: how can we maintain his friendly impression and still give players a sense of satisfaction when Ivern fights? Our solution was that, instead of letting him hit an enemy hard by using powerful punches or kicks, he could do sort of comical slaps and flicks.
Ivern was a really challenging but super fun champion to work on and we're so excited to see him out in the world! Hopefully you guys have a great time playing him!
Thanks for reading!