Why Do Female Characters ‘Have’ To Look Feminine?

Female characters often have a tough time with variety. While there is plenty of debate and discussion surrounding the prevalence of stereotypes that send poor messages to viewers, there is something else that is completely overlooked. Dave Pressler ponders the interesting question of why female characters are often forced too look feminine by executives.

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Week Links 42-2013

This post was, in fact, written on Thursday the result of a full day of travelling today. The week link list is no shorter however as this week has already produced a decent variety of interesting articles on the topic of animation. Enjoy!

Continue reading “Week Links 42-2013”

A Character’s Clothes: Something That’s Often Overlooked?

Yesterday, Aaron Diaz (a.k.a. Dresden Codak) tweeted a few things about what a character wears:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/dresdencodak/status/57481963342278656″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/dresdencodak/status/57483163085180928″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/dresdencodak/status/57483596939792384″]

It was a pleasure to meet Aaron this past weekend at the  MoCCA Festival albeit before I discovered his insanely superb tumblelog and it was also a pleasure writing this blog post until the computer crashed and took the previous version with it, but what can you do.

Aaron is spot-on in his analysis. The clothes a character wears can say a lot about them as does the wardrobe they keep. Take for example, Marge Simpson:

Marge in normal clothes

Marge in formal clothes (yoinked from the Dead Homer Society)

Although she is wearing two different outfits, they can both readily be identified as belonging to Marge.  How about another example, Sam from Danny Phantom:

Sam in normal clothes

Sam in formal attire

Both pictures are clearly Sam yet if you saw the clothes by themselves, you would still be able to associate them with her. The clothes really do maketh the man (or woman).

In animation, it is obviously desirable to have a character wear the same thing most of the time. If they didn’t, there sure would be plenty of opportunities for animators to make mistakes!

A great exception to this rule was My Life as a Teenage Robot. Although Jenny (XJ-9) doesn’t wear clothes (on account of being a robot), her colour does change quite a few times throughout each episode. While this has a far less effect than changing clothes, it does help establish the mood for a particular scene. Generally, cold colours for quiet scenes, hotter colours for action/drama scenes.

This is a complicated topic for sure. I personally think that some character designers in animation deserve just as much credit as their live-action counterparts when it comes to clothes, especially in feature films.

So take note and don’t just slap a T-shirt and jeans on your character, they (and your audience) deserve much more.

Weekly Weblink: The Character Design Blog

A bit early I know, but that’s just because tomorrow is B-Day or Blog Day, when I finally get around to making some major changes to the site. Seeing as I have the time now and maybe not tomorrow, I’m posting this today!

Character design is one of the more exciting areas in animation (I think) because there are so many avenues to explore when it comes to them. A house limited in certain aspects, but a person can look completely different just by putting on a pair of glasses, or a hat!

With so many awesome character designs out there, I used to often wonder how they came about, that is until I discovered the Character Design Blog!

Featuring interviews and art from some of the industry’s well-known and not-so-well-known designers, it is a rich archive of knowledge and art that stretches back over 5 years. It just recently returned from a brief hiatus although with so much material on there, there are plenty of older stuff to keep you entertained.

The interviews are sharp and relevant and I am pleased to say that the questions manage to avoid sinking into the usual fanboy mess that we are all too familiar with.

On top of all that, there is a full set of links to the interviewees work and/or shop so that you can support them yourself with your hard earned cash.

If you have an interest in character design (or, like me, you like to look at coll character designs) then the Character Design Blog should be top of your list.

Below is an example of the awesome Chris Battle’s work for The PowerPuff Girls that is posted in his interview.

Food for Thought: Female CGI Character Designs

Via: DevilCatz.wordpress.com

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:

Ginormica:

Via: Discover Magazine

Sam Sparks

Via: MattTrailer

Colette

Via: DevilCatz.wordpress.com

and Roxanne

Via:megamindmovietrailer.blogspot.com

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.