I didn't realize the girl this year was Sally! Can you walk us through her design concepts this year and what made you bring her back? :3
I always wanted to bring her back to continue the storyline established from the last Tip of the Hats promotional materials, so I did. Heavy was back as a Scout Leader with the bird (who Auzzie named Phil when I asked for a name), showing her around and making sure if she fell out of a tree that she wouldn’t get hurt.
Some new classes were rotated in as additional camping mentors (Soldier, Medic, Scout, I was about to put in Pauling as a Cadette but we scrapped it). We brought back two kids from last year’s promotional materials, and thus, we were ready to animate all of it.
Before the camping theme was decided and shortly after Tip of the Hats 2015, this was Sally’s earliest concept development art, using mods from SedimentarySocks, Psyke and Multitrip on a resized Scout body with Olivia’s legs still present. Haircuts were present as well as more emphasis on yellow rather than pink.
After we figured out our camping theme closer to the date of the event, a quick concept in SFM was thrown together based off a pile of mods made by Sedi, Sliferjim and Sexy Robot.
There’s this Brutal Bouffant model Maxxy also threw together for me that I liked using to shrink down - but the bones were hella broken at the back. So was everything else about how to build this model.
What this year’s Tip of the Hats’s SFM segment has made me realize is not everybody wants to spend the same amount of time or is used to doing what I do. Bapaul was one modeler already doing a bunch of our items - Sedi was brought in late because I realized there was only so much I can tell people to shrink down and scale up. Frankensteining to the extent I do is ridiculous for a group project and inefficient. I needed a body, and I needed hair that didn’t need to be broken to work. Forget resizing Scouts; let’s get a new “Scout”.
The body brought in potential for making more camping scouts. We brought back the younger girl and the kid with glasses, who we named Jill (who’s named after a Valve employee) and Timmy. Both respectively use Miss Pauling and Little Jack’s heads as bases. I would have liked to have 4-5 children and bring back that other kid but reasonably, 3 was the most manageable number to have.
The modeling sheet (with a headhacking guide) that I passed to our Source Filmmaker team this year. We didn’t end up using any bangs for Jill due to how weird it was to get the bangs I used onto her (which was from an MMD model and I didn’t feel like it was worth making people rescale/resize/alpha out more than they should) and Timmy’s eyes were changed from green back to Jack’s blue, effectively making him a Jack clone with bottlecap glasses.
There’s been a couple of comments on the animoo nature of Sally’s design. From the concept art above, there were two hair ornaments pitched: a Max’s Hairclip, as well as a top-knot headband tied “usamimi”-style (which means “bunny ears” and remained a trend in retro-influenced & Japanese fashion). The bunny ears headband was the choice the staff and I personally liked - which was cool because that meant any shot I put of her in front of a sun was absolutely a reference to the Sunbeams Max’s Head.
It’s always really humbling to see or hear that people like Sally or the children as characters, and even see fanart pop around. I know how people normally feel about characters that are children (in which if you screw up Scrappy Doo/Mary Sue style you screw up forever) but I was determined to really hammer it home that this was for the kids, and I was determined to actually make a storyline out of this with the SFM team.
I’m also glad that Bapaul and SedimentarySocks helped me out with making Sally’s hair as well as the camping Scout models: they came a long way, helped out a ton to make workflow more efficient, and added to the overall feel of everything from a body to a marshmallow stick.
Will Sally come back for next year’s Tip of the Hats? We’ll see how it goes! Otherwise, it was great to let the kids and the classes at camp and end off on a literally sweet note: roasting marshmallows around a campfire together. A representation of the unity of the Team Fortress 2 community coming together for charity for three days of fun and support.