Thursday, May 9, 2013

Character Building

It's not enough to create a character with outward charm and charisma. In order for the character to be believable by your audience, you must consider the character's life and background, habits, likes and dislikes. Factors such as age, health and clothing (usually governed by trade or occupation of character) should have already been considered when initially designing the character.

What's your character's background, likes and dislikes?

In the case of Jenny, she's a little girl with ringlets. Wears a pretty dress, socks and Mary Jane style shoes. She may remind the viewer of Shirley Temple, but with more of an attitude. As children do, Jenny loves to play. She often uses her imagination when she dances. At this point, Jenny likes most food, loves animals, loves to dance and pretend.

Monday, April 29, 2013

How I Include Character 'Appeal'

When creating cartoon characters, I make them as appealing as I can. The goal is to create a character that the audience will enjoy watching or the reader will enjoy seeing. It's one of the ultimate goals of a cartoon creator: develop a character that the audience wants to see. I consider everything about them. Form, composition, design, expression, pose, exaggeration, and line quality. I get rid of details that don't help tell the story. I want the character to be easily read and their actions easy to comprehend.

I question the roundness of the form, the position of the arms and legs. What story am I telling? What is the character's mood? In Jenny's case, this means I imbue her with elements that together add up to create an accessible level of charm and charisma. Jenny has appeal. She is drawn in such a way as to make the viewer believe she is alive and thinking and may act of her own accord in an interesting way. Her pose, her facial expression, her wild hair and huge bow are all part of her likability and appeal. The lines that define her slightly pudgy body and her flared dress purposefully and deliberately add to her charm and attractiveness. Additionally, her expressions are easy to read and make for a better connection with her audience.

Admittedly, 'appeal' is entirely subjective and I will be the first to admit that not all of my cartoons carry the same level of charisma - but that doesn't stop me from trying, and that shouldn't stop you.

more on 'Character Appeal'

What Makes A Character Appealing?

Cartoon characters with appeal form a connection with their audience. Character appeal can mean the difference between an engaged audience or a bored and otherwise distracted, disconnected one. In both live action and animated films, the viewer will care about an appealing character as opposed to one they don't give a hoot about. Want your audience to care about the story you are about to tell? Think about ways they can connected with the character. When was the last time you cared about what happened in a story that featured a main character which lacked appeal?

It's hard to invest your time and energy and emotion into a story whose main character is dull and uninteresting. Think about the cartoon characters you find most appealing and interesting. Mickey Mouse is appealing - but so is WALL-E - and they are worlds apart in terms of design and style of animation, yet both are extremely appealing. What is it about them that intrigues you? What story elements that are contained in their very being fascinate you? Is it because the clever use of exaggeration makes their expression fun to watch? Is it their outerwear? Is it their pose - the way they hold their hands or tilt their head?