Food for Thought: Female CGI Character Designs


You would think that over the last 15 years or so, there would be plenty of exciting human character designs put out by the Hollywood studios, what with CGI being a new and exciting field and all. When the idea popped into my head yesterday, I realised that we haven’t seen all that many over the years. Granted, making CGI humans has only really been possible over the last 5 years or so, but even then, the examples have been few and far between.

Take a look at this small sampling:


Via: Discover Magazine

Sam Sparks

Via: MattTrailer



and Roxanne

Elastigirl from The Incredibles doesn’t really count because I don’t consider her as a “normal” human character in the same sense as those above.

Compare those charcters to this one, by Andrew Hickinbottom

Woah! Big difference, eh? You can tell this one has real character, and she looks even more French than Colette!

OK, yeah, they’re all female but I can justify it on the grounds that female characters in general have much more intricate designs and distinguishing features and as a result more often than not represent the best designs in a film. I’m not being biased, just my personal opinion.

If you look back over the years at all the cartoons ever made, good character design can do wonders for your film. I can say with certainty, that when I was young, my mother pretty much hit the nail on the head when she opined that no-Disney animated films really did lack the polished design that Disney’s had. Was that the only thing that hurt their chances, probably not, but I bet it didn’t help them either.

Like I said, it’s still early days so I am hopeful that we’ll start to see more and more explorations of the capabilities that CGI can offer in terms of character design and the level of detail the technology can provide.

5 thoughts on “Food for Thought: Female CGI Character Designs


    Here’s two more, the first I believe is modeled, rigged, and animated by Nanda van Dijk.
    The second she animated, but I couldn’t find out who modeled or rigged it.

    Hickinbottom has a great sense of design. It’s not fair to compare a digital image to an animated character, but if female characters in computer animation were that well designed, I’d show up to far more movies.

  2. I would actually argue that the last character you posted looks vapid and cliche. As far as looking “more french than Colette”, Colette is wearing her chef’s outfit all the time, and to be honest, what do the French people look like? There may be stereotypes of how the french look, but Ratatouille tried to portray more of a reality of the French people than they did some overblown cliches of how they all should look.
    I don’t really understand what is making you think that all these characters look the same. Because they have short hair? Because they dress modestly or casually? These designs are all fairly different. Sure, Ginormica and Roxanne look a lot alike expression-wise, but that is far more because they are from the same production company that doesn’t ever do much with their style than anything else.

    1. Those are all valid points, Sasha. And I agree, the last character is somewhat sterotypical. Not everyone in France wears a beret or a striped top. The same can be said for the looks, the length of hair may be the same in the characters I posted but that is a coincidence, I never set out to propose that they all looked the same because of their hair length. On a side note, Rapunzel has 70 feet, and that is far from what makes her an appealing character.

      What I was alluding to was that overall, CGI female character design is rather boring. There seems to be little experimentation in the field compared with some of the wild stuff seen in 2-D animation over the years. This is of course a technological matter. Rigs and frames are much harder to build than simply drawing on a sheet of paper, and that I completely understand.

      In addition, the last character is undoubtedly French. She is sitting at an outside cafe with a glass of wine and some cheese on her plate. There is a Metro entrance behind her and she is clearly enjoying a cigarette. All of these I know the French to enjoy, especially the Parisians. You’ll notice none of this relates specifically to the character herself although the lack of a smile, the apparent weariness in her eyes and the way her arms are set just scream French, or at the very least, mainland European. All of these combined make her more French than Collette, who if we did not know was French, could come from anywhere.

      Granted, all of the above has nothing to do with character design, and perhaps the post is not written as best it could, however, I do not doubt that the additional curves in the bottom one make her a much more interesting character visually, which is only complimented by her setting.

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