To help aspiring character designers APW has asked animation professionals - former APW students and friends who are working in the animation biz to contribute character design pointers in the Pro-Tips series.  The first Pro-Tip comes from APW Director Vince Peets.    

Start with a simple shape.

Mike Wazowski (Monsters Inc.),  Baloo the Bear (Jungle Book) and SpongeBob are three examples of character designs that are based on distinct shapes (a circle, a pear-shape and a rectangle).

Storytelling in animation is parceled out into scenes that may last only a few seconds.  Simple character designs can "read" clearly and quickly.  I suggest using a simple shape as a starting point for a character design.   The innate qualities of the shape can inspire a body-type for a character.  Each shapes produces a different effect - a triangle is sharp (dangerous?), a tear drop widens at the bottom (heavy?), an oval etc.  each day, try a new shape."  Vince Peets - APW Director  

    Drawing  #1 shows a simple rectangle, #2 shows a light sketch of a character based on the rectangle and #3 shows a janitor character - his shoulders and feet are at the 4 corners of the rectangle.  Instead of beginning with a detail such as the eyes or mouth, this character design starts with a simple shape.apw_shape_1aapw_shape_2aapw_shape_3a APW 2016 Character Design Contest Guidelines apw_character_design_contest_rules_regulations_2016