To help aspiring animation artists who are designing characters for the APW Character Design Contest, we asked animation professionals – former APW students and friends working in the animation biz to add their 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., Monsters University), SpongeBob Square-pants and Baloo the Bear (Jungle Book) are three examples of character designs based on simple shapes (a circle, a rectangle, a pear-shape).
In animation design, a high value is placed on simplicity. My work as a storyboard artist has shown me that storytelling is delivered in scenes that may potentially last only a few seconds. A simple character design that reads clearly and quickly enables forward movement and unfolding of the story within this time constraint. My suggestion: use one simple shape as a starting point for your character design. The innate qualities of that shape can inspire a body-type and personality for a character. Try repeating this exercise using different shapes – a triangle, a tear drop, an oval etc. each day, try a new shape.
- 1 a simple rectangle,
- 2 a light sketch of a character based on the rectangle
- 3 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, I started the drawing with an over-all shape.