The most important part of producing animation is character design. No matter what kind of animation you are working on (2D animations or 3D animations), you have to pay the utmost attention to character design. Because in the end, the only thing that lingers in the audiences’ mind is the character.
As the animation is being produced, the character design process is started too. It requires the knowledge of textures, colors, forms and all the things about a character that needs to be born.
Why do we remember our childhood animated characters?
Close your eyes and try to remember some of your favorite animated characters. I bet Tom and Jerry, Sponge Bob Square Pants and Winnie the Pooh, Homer Simpson and Wall.E are on top of the list.
What has made them so special?
We vividly remember our childhood comic and animated characters because they had what we didn’t have. We couldn’t fly or jump the way they did or we couldn’t do silly stuff and not being afraid of the consequences. Animation brought a world full of new experiences to our limited perception of the world.
Why character design is important?
Character design is one of the first steps in producing an animated video. Without characters, there would be no animation. One of the first steps in designing a character is to list the personalities, temperaments, physical attributes and appearance. The key to designing a character is to focus on the details.
What makes a character memorable?
Giving a strong personality and a cute weakness would do a great job in the course of animation production. Characterization depends on the type of animation you are producing which is real or fantasy and surreal. Thus, research is demanded in this case. After finding a reference, the main work starts. Your characters should be one of a kind unless it will be forgotten soon. You have to give the uniqueness to your character.
Uniqueness of personality
To make a character unique, it’s not necessary to bring strange and weird features. Just make sure your character doesn’t look or act like other animated characters. You can give your character any kind of traits you wish. From the kindness of Casper “Casper the friendly ghost” to the humor of Sponge Bob Square Pants and Patrick and weirdness of Cat-Dog! Hence, we tend to remember characters that we made an emotional bond with.
Principles to design a character
Who this character is designed for?
First of all, it is important to be aware of the audience. Designing a character for children is different from designing for adults. For children, it is crucial to use bright colors, deformed creatures with exaggerated facial expression and movements with music. While for adults it is completely different. Colors, movements and reacts are more moderate.
What this character is designed for?
After answering several questions about the age and interest of the audience, and content, animation moves on to the next level which is considering the medium. Depends on the medium, the style and the purpose of animation might vary. A character in a mobile game has fewer details and doesn’t react to the user or even it doesn’t start any emotional bond. Therefore, it is different from an animated promo video or an educational video.
Realize your ideas
After giving identity to your character, it’s time to start sketching. It may take 2 or 3 days with more than 20 etudes to finalize one sketch. Physical attributes are assigned based on the personalities that are given to a character beforehand.
Characters can be fat, chubby, to be one of a kind or so distorted that can be barely recognized as something familiar. It might start from a simple doodle to an elegant sketch. After being approved by the animation studios, director, producer, and the customer, your finalized sketch is ready to move on to the next step of character design.
It’s time to apply what you had in mind, on the screen. At first, you need to choose the primary color pallets. You choose the colors and the skin tones based on some factors. One of them is your work’s style that can be either fantasy or real. You wouldn’t use a pink or green skin tone on a real character with the humorless storyline. Another influential factor is creativity. Director decides what color is suitable for a character to finalize a work.
It was in this stage that, Shrek was born with green skin tone or Patrick became a pink starfish! Afterward, you apply textures and accessories or physical attributes such as hairstyle, mustache, and freckles.
Next step in the animation production process is to polish your character. In this stage, the details will be fixed, the colors will be regulated and all the possible expressions, models and movements will be drawn.
Character design has no end but this post does!
Animation is a novel field, you think about a world with imaginary features, you design characters for it and make them live in that. Character design, on the one hand, is one of the most creativity demanding works to do and on the other hand, you can give life to the traits and personalities or colors you always loved to have, to the creature that you made them yourself.