Sunday, September 20, 2009

Appealing Character Design Does a Lot


ThomasHjorthaab said...

Hey John:)

I forgot how to make the clickable links, but hope you'll tjek out my newest stuff...

How's it going with the spumco book?:)

- Thomas

Dan Becker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Jackson said...

Hey John, First time poster frequent reader.
Its a shame nowadays a dog has to look like a dog and a cat has to look like a cat in modern animation. A lot of character designers (not all) aren't interested in creating a character that is UNIQUE and appealing. A lot of studios have forgotten about why the cartoon was created and are to hung up on anatomy (which helps) or creating horrible 'quirky' flash designs.
I regularly post studies on this site any tips?

Chloe Cumming said...

I really like the maleness of Yogi's shape. If I was playing with Yogi I'd try to make that the constant.

There was a nice acknowledgment of gender differences in the best HB designs. Modern designs tend to be more androgynous in a bad sexless way.

Soz for lack of cartoon studies lately John, I've been preparing my exhibition. Will get back to it soon.

RooniMan said...

Check this out please.

early studies

Shawn Dickinson said...


A.M.Bush said...

yea it does. can't wait to hear more.

Mitch K said...

Such simple and clear and cool layouts.

Pete Emslie said...

The mantra in the animation community for years now has been "Story, story, story!!" I've never really bought into that myself. Yes, story is important to a degree, but I'd argue that appealing character design is what hooks your viewer in the first place (and keeps them, too). Like John, I love those Hanna-Barbera designs by Ed Benedict. Some of Iwao Takamoto's early work was good too, like "Wacky Races", though to a lesser degree than Benedict's.

I think appealing design for TV animation should take precedence over story, as shows like "Yogi Bear" prove that fun design paired with funny visual gags can well sustain a series in lieu of a heavily scripted storyline. Even on animated features, though the story may be well crafted, the film has pretty much lost my interest if the art design is somewhat lacking in appeal.

JohnK said...

I agree with you Pete, except that I've never seen a "well-crafted" feature cartoon story. They are all a string of animation cliches.

My theory is if you are gonna just tell the same dumb stories over and over again with bigger and bigger budgets, at least you could afford a professional designer.

Annie-Mae said...

Who did draw those? I think Yogi has always had the best design. That belly flows really well and you can do a lot with the character outside the flat style HB created him in.

I do want to throw a few characters of mine your way to see if I can get some tips on them. I have a blog but I'm using my DA page because I can get the sketches out faster then the blog posts.

Eddie Full Color
Jenny Full Color
Costume Designs

If you don't have time, that's cool. Thanks for looking.

Guy said...

The mantra in the animation community for years now has been "Story, story, story!!"

This is all because the art in recent animation is so totally creatively bankrupt they turn to "writing", which is, to them, a mysterious source of quality that feels good to praise.

The "writing" (we really need a new word for dialogue and story. It'd make so much stupidity go away) isn't any better, but that's not as obvious.

Jeremy09 said...

Pleasure reading you, John

allen mez said...

This would appear to be the most obvious blog post title ever. Apparently the studios still don't get it though.

I think there are very talented designers in the system. Poor broken souls that have to sit back and watch the worst of the worst character designs get chosen for production.

Decent health-care plan though (sigh). They'll need it.

John A said...

It's not "Story", it's a "Well told story" there's a big difference. Not everyone can tell a story well, just like some people are just incapable of delivering a joke.

People who sing the story mantra think the solution is to steal someone else's storyline and tell it with cats or something. Or they believe that story equals message and that the worst piece of dreck can be salvaged with "kids, clean your rooms, and don't drink poison".

Successful storytelling holds the audience's attention and in a visual medium like animation good design keeps the audience's eyes engaged.

I.D.R.C. said... least you could afford a professional designer.

As allen mez has hinted, don't some of them hire designers in order to blunt all their ideas? It's like Detroit and cars. That's what executives do, I guess.