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Animators bring Skylanders: Giants to life through hand-made models

"It's all painstaking, but it's all hand-crafted." Paul Yan, animation director

Skylanders: Giants, the sequel to 2011's Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, features a myriad of unique creatures created through stop-motion photography and advanced modeling techniques, reports GamesBeat.

Skylanders combines physical action figures with a video game component. Each figure can be brought to life by "teleporting" them into the game using a special platform. In an interview with the GamesBeat, Animation Director Paul Yan explained the process of crafting living figures, which start as simple toys.

"There are so many different characters and body types," said Yan. "Every single character has a unique personality and we have to do a lot of custom work to make them work."

Toys for Bob first creates a kid-friendly character, followed by sketches. The toy is then recreated in a 3D computer program and printed via a special sculpture printer. Many more figures are needed to create an entire set of poseable models; a model is printed several times to capture different moves. From there, different poses are filmed and used as a basis for in-game animation.

Making art for each character is a long process, one that can take months. In Skylander's case, it took 10 months for the team to put together animations.

"It's all painstaking, but it's all hand-crafted," said. Yan. "That's the goal. The end result justifies it all."