Character Design

The four principles of animation that I chose to focus on for the character design assignment are anticipation, staging, exaggeration and appeal. In my sketchbook I have tried to demonstrate each of these principles.

At the beginning of this semester I challenged myself to create a character each week, no matter how bad the result would be. I used day to day objects as inspiration, also animals and doodles. The character I chose to develop for this assignment is one of the results of this challenge.

My character is an interdimensional sentient being, profession: dessert collector, male. His purpose is to collect the best human cakes and bring them back home to impress his peers that constantly ridicule him. His biggest wish is to steal the royal cake from the queen, but always fails.

To create a personality that would have the villainesque appeal appropriate for the type of character that he is, I looked for inspiration in The Pink Panther, the anthropomorphic cat named Katz from the show Courage the Cowardly Dog and the Looney Tunes character, Bugs BunnyThese characters are curious, cunning, charismatic and in the case of the pink panther, enjoy food. My intention is to emulate a similar attitude in my design.

My character is intended to be an instigator. Dramatic and semi-comic, he’s meant to have quirks in motivations and aspirations. He does not understand why humans eat the cakes that in his world are deemed priceless pieces of art and believes that stealing and preserving them makes him a hero. This reasoning gives him a tremendously confident attitude that shows in his posture and walk.

In my sketchbook, I tried to depict those attributes by placing my character in a few different settings. To demonstrate the concept of staging I have drawn a few examples:

The first image on the top left is an example of bad staging. The viewer’s attention is drawn to the bright colours in the middle of the frame, away from the main action in the foreground. This might suggest that another character will enter the frame or that something important to the narrative is going to happen in the background. In the following images I arranged the objects differently, creating a perspective that leads the eye towards the main point of action. Having the action in a scene become obvious sets an expectation for the natural follow up action, thus creating a feeling of anticipation and opening the possibility of surprising the viewer.

Below is the initial concept and silhouette of the figure.

The basic shape of this design is made of two teardrops. I chose this shape for its non-threatening look that allows the character to be menacing in personality and keep its comical attributes at the same time. The appeal of my character is meant to come from the fluidity of its shape and its general nonchalant attitude. Given that in the past I have constantly avoided shades of red and pink based on my dislike of them, I have taken it as a challenge to incorporate them in my work in ways that I would be satisfied with. Pink was chosen as the dominant colour for personal reasons while the blue and the yellow were added to balance it out and add dynamism to the design.

In my sketches, I believe I have demonstrated a good understanding of staging, anticipation, exaggeration and appeal as described by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

More examples in my sketchbook.

Appeal in Animated Design

Explanimate!. (2017). The Art of Designing Appealing Characters for Your Animation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2017]. (2017). JEAN BAPTISTE VENDAMME INTERVIEW. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2017]. – from LinkedIn. (2017). Story and Character Development for Animation – Preview. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Peck, S. (n.d.). Atlas of human anatomy for the artist. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thomas, F., Johnston, O. and Thomas, F. (1995). The illusion of life. 1st ed. New York: Hyperion.

YouTube. (2017). 1. Squash & Stretch – 12 Principles of Animation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2017].


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