Generic Design

The way female characters are designed and featured in animation has been a hot topic on this blog in the past, this is an interesting article about giving female characters a design with individual personality. The topic was then picked up in this article on the Cartoon Cave Blog, Part 1 and Part 2. Two of the shows mentioned in Part 2 were or are being worked on right here in Brisbane.


frank said...

That was a nice subject read.

There were some comments on children's perception and character design I found interesting:

They're still pretty much all the same basic design and rather robotic looking in their expressionless poses. I suppose I have to give some credit for varying the body types a bit, but overall they're pretty bland and similar in design. Is this something that today's little tykes really would enjoy? I'm just glad that I grew up on "The Flintstones" and old "Popeye" cartoons in my kindergarten days, before the days of highminded "childrens' programming" came into being.

There could be more at play?

Is it less about being politically correct (thus not offending parents and guardians) and more about allowing a kid to project themselves onto an intentionally underdeveloped character?

That is, if you make a children's show character a blob of clay, do the kids then mold themselves into it?

These thoughts are based on the concept that kids watch their shows from a point of view that it is all about them (the individual child watching the show).

Dana said...

You know what the saddest part is? I actually have Disney Princess merchandise in my room, I got the calender for christmas :D
Great article, gives you something to think about before you design a new character. Personally I love making up characters and giving them personalities, I think it's so much fun.
After reading the article I feel as though I should redesign some of my characters so that they have more of an individual look.

I reckon making all character look the same even if they come from different racial backgrounds might do a kid more harm than good. I mean, we're taught to love yourself and be proud of your ethnic background yet when a child turns on the TV, they see cartoon characters who have the same face as the other characters but differnet skin colour. Wouldn't that be a bit confussing?

I've always believed that kids are a lot smarter than we take them for and they would know it's just a cartoon, but i think it would still be rather confussing to them.
Ugh, I have a billion counter arguements to this thought but I can't be bothered to write them down or expand on them.

Ian said...

I surpose it would depend on the age of the kids.

I think the goal would be to have your cake and eat it too. Interesting design that is still compatible with the kids state of mind.

I don't think it has much to do with being politicaly correct as far as motivation goes, I think its more being lazy or cheep. I suspect shrewed produces figured out some time ago that it is less work and cheeper to play it safe from the outset than it is to struggle to find the right balance between character and being PC.

Art and Commerce, who ever thought of putting them together?

Terry said...

Great articles Ian, thanks.

Frank, the question you've asked ("That is, if you make a children's show character a blob of clay, do the kids then mold themselves into it?') is answered in a very interesting fashion in Scott MacLeod's UNDERSTANDING COMICS. Scott sees simple cartoon characters as vacuums waiting to be filled by young (an old) viewers. Bart Simpson, for example, could visually represent pretty much any young blonde caucasian kid.

Funnily enough I'm designing some characters right now, so this was a very well-timed post from Ian!

frank said...

I was reading the cartoon cave blog post, not the one linked to the picture, by the way.

Ah Ian, it is a tragedy that your art commerce comment cuts through all the lovely pink fluffy ideas again.

I wonder if there are animation ninja out there, who sneak things past the ever vigilant bean counters. Animators who sneak a bit of larrikinism or spice into a sequence in a corporate controlled franchise?

Was the yellow critter Katie in Horton a glimpse? Or are things so micromanaged that the beancounters will always win?

Is the greatest freedom we have in animating right now, while we're students?

frank said...

Hi Terry.

Is the Mcleod book in the SBIT library catalogue yet?

I'd like to look into it a bit more.

I blew this year's student tax return on Richard Williams's text.