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When talking about character design, it is important to consider all the creative, innovative, and psychological efforts a designer puts in a project in a character animation studio. Creating a character in the animation field is like creating a unique human being. Uniqueness in character design relates to both psychological manner and appearance. Moreover, there is a strong relationship between psychological manner and visual features of a character.  

How does psychology impact a character design? 

Every visual element must manifest the personality of the character. The physical attributes like color and shapes form the first presupposition about the personality. The combination of visual assets and internal being results in a sophisticated character design. Well-drawn visuals give a good first impression. And the well-formed characteristics makes the audience follow the story.

The viewer’s first impression of a character is made in 7 to 12 seconds. That is why it is crucial for a character to project its personality through its appearance. Therefore, before designing a character, the inner psychology and mentality of a character and its effects on the physical attributes should be surveyed.

Appearance alone can visualize a character’s personality and mental state. Here’s how!

Color as an important factor of psychology in character design  

The research of color is science itself and day by day its importance is getting more emphasis. A survey conducted by Dr. Max Luscher (1969) suggests that our perception of color is objective but our preference is subjective. This means that people reveal themselves unconsciously through color without the interference of conscious choices. Colors are the mother tongue of the subconscious. They can evoke an instant reaction in an audience.

When designing and choosing colors, it is important to consider cultural differences in the perception of color For example, white in western society is the symbol of purity but in some influences the audience and help the creation of aesthetics. So, it is useful for designers to understand color psychology and symbolism.

psychology of character design (infographic)
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Nonverbal communication  

We as humans can understand and feel people’s nonverbal actions. This is because of our need to figure out people by their agreeableness and dominance.

Agreeableness shows the amount of social shows the amount of social receptiveness a person portrays or how friendly they are told us. This is culturally dependent. However, smile, energetic voice, and relaxed presence are common signs we interpret as agreeableness. Low agreeableness signs are angry expression and stiff stance.

Dominance shows how much higher a person is in a social hierarchy. Permanent cues like age, family, health or wealth, and controllable cues like physical traits like body, face, and voice help us understand people.

All of these physical and nonverbal attributes portrait the inner world of a character. They prove the connection between physical appearance, internal perception, and psychological behavior.

It is also worth to mention that studies suggest nonverbal behavior plays a critical role in commercial animations too. Take a brand mascot for example. What actually matters is how color and shape is combined to communicate all of the brand values. psychology of character design (infographic)

© Copyright DREAM FARM STUDIOS

Body language

When we react to an event or situation the impression on our face and our body, speaks a lot about us. If someone always stands alone in public with a close stance a looking around worrying about something, it can be interpreted that the character is insecure. On the other hand, if someone stands up straight, taking up space around themselves we would think he is a dominant person.

These attributes give others the ability to read and interpret social situations through visual cues. So as the character designer should give the audience something to read from.

psychology of character design (infographic)
© Copyright DREAM FARM STUDIOS

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To conclude

Character design is a vast artistic and scientific field in character animation studio. Artistic and scientific features work together to shape a well-formed character.  All of the above features help the character designer to develop a lifelike character with human-like attributes. The important thing is that as a character designer,  designs something rich both in appearance and traits. There always must be something in the character that the audience can relate to.

We have recently added a new article that sheds some light on shape language as an important factor in character design. we recommend you look at this article  to see the impact of psychology in practice. 

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Walter Simmon
Walter Simmon
1 month ago

We had a class back in college talking about how to make a character visually engaging. Most of the tips we learned there came down to subconscious and psychological factors that people are not consciously aware of. The 3 things mentioned here perfectly elaborates the things I learned.

Arash Naghdi
Admin
Arash Naghdi
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Simmon

Thank you very much Walter for the kinds words. We are more than happy our content is aligned with academic studies.

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