To give appeal to character... How

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aji
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To give appeal to character... How

Post by aji » Sat Oct 12, 2013 2:02 pm

The success of an animation series is mostly based on character design.
How can create a character with high appeal.... especially in 2D
Please share your ideas on this topic
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slowtiger
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by slowtiger » Sat Oct 12, 2013 6:00 pm

This is one of the few things which cannot be taught, nor are there any formulas which you can use. Your character (and the whole design fo your project) either has appeal, or it doesn't. You need to be artist enough to be able to recognize it, and even more of an artist to be able to achieve it.
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by lwaxana » Sat Oct 12, 2013 6:05 pm

This is a very interesting topic! I'm excited to see people's responses.

I actually think that the concept of the show and characters is more important than the visual design to a show's popularity (as long as the show meets certain minimum aesthetic standards). But I think most successful shows have a very specific audience and they hit the right cultural notes for that target audience (such as using that audience's slang, expressing that audience's ideals, making fun of the things that audience makes fun of, etc.). And as to particular characters, I think there are two ways they can appeal. One way is that the viewers envision themselves as that character so you can make a character that that audience would admire, but goes through situations they relate to. Another type of character that seems extremely popular is non-intimidating characters. A lot of popular shows have main characters with a lot of flaws, and the show highlights the flaws to make the character appealing. I think this is just the same as the real life people that everyone loves to be around because they are friendly and non-intimidating, often making fun of themselves. I think the least appealing character would be an alpha personality character that the audience doesn't identify with or sympathize with in any way.
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lwaxana
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by lwaxana » Sat Oct 12, 2013 6:32 pm

oh, and to address the actual visual design question, I agree with slowtiger that there is no formula. But I think that if you genuinely love your character design, and if seeing it act through different emotions makes you feel something for that character, then that's a very good sign. When I choose color palettes and fine tune the colors, I will go from having no emotional response, to having an overwhelming, "this is perfect" feeling by very slight color changes. I can't explain it.
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by Danimal » Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:02 am

lwaxana wrote:I actually think that the concept of the show and characters is more important
Absolutely. Design is the least of the concerns if the writing is there. And lwaxana also hit on the super importance of making characters likeable. All too often the characters are unlikeable clods the audience can't relate to. They end up shallow and unrealistic cutouts. The other extreme is sadly too common: every character has so much history and backstory that all they do is sit around yapping and nothing ever happens.

If you want the character to have visual appeal, just have his design match what you're trying to convey - happy, cute, angry, whatever.
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by slowtiger » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:20 am

I disagree. All the writing of the world can't help an ugly and unappealing character. A character has to work even as a still frame.

Of course writing has to be good as well, but let's define appeal as what's delivered through visuals only. And this is where design absolutely counts. Not so much in a sense of "is it artistic" or "is this new" or "is this cutting edge" (how I hated especially this phrase in my daily work in the agency!), but in the sense of "is this a believable consistent world" and "would I like to cuddle this" and "does this work nicely in movement" and "can it express emotions".

There's a reason why visual development for CGI is still done with traditional media for a great extent. A rough pencil line or brush stroke carries so much more feelings than a straight clean vector line. Later on in the process these feelings will be analyzed and eventually translated into design decisions like shadows, furryness, flexibility, line thickness, whatever. In every design process there are these two fields of emotion vs. analytics, and a good designer is able to translate from one to the other.
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lwaxana
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by lwaxana » Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:46 pm

I definitely agree that a believable consistent world is necessary as well as a design's ability to express emotions. For me, those are part of the minimum aesthetic requirements and I can't think of any really popular shows that don't meet those criteria. But it seems that there are ugly shows out there that are popular.

I think Beavis and Butthead uses ugliness as part of its cultural appeal. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/new ... y-20110202 As someone who watched this show, I hated the way it looked. I'm sure these were intentionally ugly designs, but as a naive kid, I assumed it was sloppiness/lack of skill. I watched the show anyway because "it was cool." Its ugliness fit perfectly with a kind of gritty, angsty, anti-consumerism, trapped-in-the-suburbs teenager counter culture in the early-mid 90s.

Another example is Home Movies. I wouldn't call the designs ugly, but they don't give an impression of polish. Yet the visuals support the indie spirit of the show. That coupled with all the ad-libbing in the dialogue gives the show an intimate feeling similar to stand up comedy; it feels like the cool kids are letting you hang out with them!

And then there is annoying orange.

So I think there is evidence that audiences will tolerate a certain amount of visual ugliness. But it would be interesting to flesh out what conditions allow the audience to tolerate ugly designs and which aspects of the design can be ugly and still be accepted.
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lwaxana
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by lwaxana » Sun Oct 13, 2013 6:45 pm

I've been thinking more about this. I think some of these older shows worked because they almost appeared "underground." And part of the thrill is in discovering this new and different thing and becoming an insider. But maybe "underground" has lost meaning with the advent of youtube?
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by synthsin75 » Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:03 pm

I think this is a good, workable, definition of character appeal in animation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12_basic_p ... ion#Appeal

Charisma is a very good word for that somewhat intangible quality that, whether a protagonist or antagonist, we want the audience to see a bit of themselves in the character (whether in virtues or flaws).
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by heyvern » Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:32 pm

I think that in many cases it could be.... pure chance, luck, when something hits a "nerve" in the culture and becomes a huge success. In the current state of entertainment there's so much content we have overload. It is very hard to rise above everything available. Take a look at "viral" content that gets millions of views in a short time... are these videos actually "good" from the point of view of quality of production or content? Not really. There is some totally undefinable "thing" that happens that is not related to quality or anything else we as artists focus on to make something that should become popular. In many cases it's pure luck and timing that determines when something becomes a huge hit.

If "Beavis and Buthead", South Park, or the Simpsons was produced before the culture was ready to accept it, those shows would have failed miserably and never be seen again. I think they came along at the perfect time, touched a nerve and took off.

These days, in "network" programming, because of the costs of production, if a "show" doesn't become an instant overnight success, the "producers" dump it almost instantly. If it isn't a huge success right away it is a failure. I remember decades ago, a show would stay on the air with horrific ratings and no fans or viewers... but... It would grow it's fan base and then become a hit. That type of dedication can only happen if someone sees the potential and is willing to take the risk. Take a look at a show like "Firefly". It was canceled after one season because of the huge cost of production (large ensemble cast, SFX, etc) and the fact that it just didn't get the ratings. It wasn't until AFTER it was canceled that it become hugely popular. It was "bad timing" or lack of patience by the producers. Then you have a program like "Battlestar Galactica" that was a hit right out of the box. It's all in the timing. I think also the show "MASH" was a big failure during it's first season, but the people in charge had faith in it and kept it going, eventually becoming a huge success.

On top of all that... there is the production values. I still think the "quality" or artistic value of "characters" or design in a successful animated show doesn't have to be "perfect" to make popular content. South Park is a prime example of that. The animation is... well... crap... but that's it's charm. You look past it because it's so funny and edgy. It's the writing, acting and culturally relevant story lines that have tapped into the minds of the fans to make it a huge hit. The quality of the characters or production has little to do with its success.

Look at examples of FANTASTIC expensive production values of absolute failures. Henson's Dark Crystal comes to mind. The quality, detail and depth of the characters and design was flawless... but the story, plot and acting was so horrific that it failed. I remember reading the "behind the scenes" of that movie. They designed everything BEFORE they had a script. The story was only an afterthought. In my mind this is a mistake. Have a good story first.

None of this is based on any expertise on my part, this is simply my observations over the years.
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by 3deeguy » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:31 am

2D animators are not the only people interested in character appeal. So are novelists, movie makers, public relations people etc. Why are certain people charismatic? What makes a hit TV show?
For myself, I'll learn everything I can which should improve my odds.
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by hayasidist » Tue Oct 15, 2013 12:05 pm

IMO it's about balance and consistency: looks, voice, behaviours, word usage... all need to be harmony with the part the character is playing and the environment in which they're playing it. Ignore that and you have either great comedy (Spitting Image - a TV programme here in the UK a while ago - lampooned the Queen Mother by dressing her in full Royal Regalia but portraying her as a straignt-from-the botle beer-swilling gambler with a working class regional accent) or a disaster (as already mentioned).

Then there's the plot / premise: credible or at least allowing suspension of disbelief? politically acceptable / sensitive treatment of tough issues such as cimes motivated by race or religion, crimes against the person, etc (in the context of the story - e.g. portraying bigotry without condoning it) ? If no to either or both then that's dodgy territory and a great character would have to work really hard not to be dragged under by a "failed" plot.

Of course, what is and is not credible and acceptable changes over time. Just by way of example, the "horror" movies of the black-and-white film era are largely either dull or comedic today; using the n- word no longer gets a laugh...
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by Lostmymarbles » Sat Nov 23, 2013 2:32 pm

I'm with 3ddeguy here - a character can be incredibly complicated and unappealing or it can be basic line art and captivating - it's all down to the personality you can convey - in the words of Pele " Practice is everything.".
There is a guide somewhere on the net that appears on google images - the secret/art of cuteness - and it explains that all cute characters are based on a babies characteristics - large belly , protruding buttocks , large head in comparison to the body - I have the book it's from but I couldnt tell you off the top of my head what it's called.
Personality is what gives characters appeal - do you think Disneys snowwhite cartoon ( several of the animators were admitted to hospital upon its completion ) would have worked if the dwarves had been flat and featureless , no they all had relatable personalities .
Sit down tonight think of a character trait you want to convey and model yourself in the mirror with your facial expressions - adding humanity to your work will make it come alive.
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Keep trying - relax and enjoy what youre doing - if you stress over it I dont think you will succeed.
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by RichardU » Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:51 am

For an audience to engage with a character requires three things: Desire, Effort, and Result. What does the character want? Give your character a specific desire the instant we meet him. Doesn't need to be to save the world -- simply something that makes the audience wonder if he will get it. Effort is whatever the character does to get the Desire. Have the audience wonder: I wonder if that will work? Or, why didn't he try something else instead? And Result is how your character reacts to the outcome. Would I react the same way? What will he do now?

This trilogy is like a fractal -- it works at the level of the whole story, it works at the scene level, and it even works if you have a character do something else as simple as wink at someone else: Why did he wink, will it work, what will he do when it does or doesn't. It works for good guys as well as bad guys (who also need to be engaging).

Unfortunately, I think the field of animation attracts a lot of people who are enamored with the artwork, which is good, but only if you have strong writing to go along with it. But I'm more of a writer than an artist, and maybe not much of either.
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Re: To give appeal to character... How

Post by GCharb » Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:49 pm

I tend to agree with Richard here

Character development starts in writing, write your character bio, his or her motivation, where the character comes from, and so forth, give it a life on paper, then draw from it. A character is not like a new born, he has a past, an history, and only from that history can you make a character that feels real, at least it is my experience!
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