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Author Topic: character design question
gergley
IE # 200
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I'm doing some character design for a brief animation. The character is based on a person and a character he plays. So, I need to nail the design so that it looks right and for the animation that's it is for to work well.

In playing around with the design, it becoming obvious that the character's glasses are putting up a stumbling block. Right now, the designs are based on real specs and the shapes and lines really jumble up the face.

One way I'm considering has the frames serve as the eye shapes. I know. It is kinda cliched. But it just one option so far.

What I was thinking of doing is squashing and stretching the frames.

For instance, for shock, the frames would be more like upright ovals. When mad, the tops of the frames would have a downward curve and be lined with the eyebrows.

What I'm curious about is if anyone knows any examples where that's been done before. If so, in what cartoon, for which character(s)?
If so, was it to good effect?

It would be cool to at least one decent, existing reference. But, even decent advice would be nice.
Thanks.

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bigshot
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Swat the Fly from Fleischer's Mr Bug Goes To Town comes to mind.

See ya
Steve

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mojodesign
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I'm sure it's been done more than a few times before. In fact, I created a character like that a while ago...let me see if I can find a pic of him to post.

...be back soon.

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-FP-
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mojodesign
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There ya go. No better example than Dexter.

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gergley
IE # 200
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Yeah. Thanks, Frank.
Dexter just didn't come to mind until I saw that image.

And, "Mr. Bug..." It's been forever and a day since I've watched that. Thanks for the heads up, Steve. Now I have to see if I have it on tape somewhere so I can watch it just cuz.

And, thanks Mojo D.

As it goes, I played around with the glasses as eyes and it doesn't gibe with the rest of the design. It flattens it out. It just doesn't look appropriate. So, I'm ditching that idea.

This has just been tricky because the face looks busy and is cluttered with elements that are fighting one another.
In a photo, it looks OK, ya know.
In a cartoon drawing, notsomuch.

Fortunately, the versions I've done today are better. I figured out how to make the design and construction of the head work a bit better.

Sketch, turn page, repeat.

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g

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Ganklin
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yeah dexter was the first that poped into my mind.

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Eric Hedman
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Sherman and Mr Peabody?

I would say that you might just get away with the frames with no lens effect.
The framing of the eyes has the same effect unless you want the eyes to be behind coke bottles and get the OWL effect, at which point the eye brows have to, sort of, come forward and join the same plane.

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20's-30's music

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Shane Glines
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Flint Michigan

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www.cartoonretro.com

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gergley
IE # 200
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Yeah. I don't know if it is a bad thing that I didn't think of Dexter or of "Flint Michigan.*"

Neither crossed that vast wasteland that is my mind until reminded, or made aware, that specfic characters with Spetacles were designed using this approach.

I did think Peapody. And I would have mentioned him earlier but felt the need to explain the design choice I was shooting for and how it would look and function.

For a simply designed character, he had a something going on. Not a lot, but something. But, what I going for is/was different.


The design of this project is so different than when I posted the intitial question, the glasses as eyes doesn't matter much anymore.
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FINGERS and TOES....

Enh. Why let a thread go to waste...

I prefer to do three fingered characters. Heck, I prefer it almost without thinking but obviously, sometimes you just need to go with four fingers for a character..

This is because it is the right (and the left) thing to do.

So, without opening any books, I ask:

what pushes character designers, or anyone who draws cartoons, to go with either three fingers or with four?

I'm especially curious about why character(s) that are cartoony in design (abstracted a lot) and still have four fingers.


*that looked pretty cool, by the way. Thanks for sharing, Shane.

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gergley
IE # 200
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heh.
worked all weekend, so to me this is just a Monday. A long Monday.

When I wrote: "Spetacles" I meant "Spectacles."
Normally, I joke my way of they typo (that's just the type of guy I am.)
But,
I'm so tired the quick wit ain't producing a quip, or some word play, like double entendre.

So, I should probably quip while I'm a head.

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hamsterbite
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Speaking of character design, you might want to check out the latest entry in John Kricfalusi's blog. ("All Kinds of Stuff")

I wish I could include the link, but I'm having trouble with it at the moment.

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gergley
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On what Hamsterbite was likely referring to:

The one from today is specifically on Ed Benedict and that voodoo he did so well

And, the most prominent one was a Character Design Primer from last week or so
(both links lead to jk's blog)

Thanks, for the heads up, Hammy.
Anything on good design is great to know, for sure, for sure.

But, for what I'm doing now I am just trying to ensure that what I design can be animated well by me for the project;
that it looks as good as it can to me, for the project and, most importantly, to the client;
that the likeness I'm using works for this character because I need to use the same style to cartoonize others.

So, my initial question is pretty much moot for what I am doing. Though, I might sneak in glasses as eyes for extreme takes, if any are needed. So, I'll never say never.

So big thanks to all for the feedback.


Now, what about FINGERS and TOES?

"3s or 4s? Or less or more?", the carnival barker barked.

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hamsterbite
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The Character Design Primer is the one I was talking about. The Ed Benedict one wasn't up when I had looked earlier that day; it sounds good, though. But I thought the primer was up for the day I posted. Now I can't get a connection to check it. Sorry for my lack of specificity.

As for fingers and toes, I prefer 5 per limb, even for very cartoony styles. It just never looks wrong to me, but I know I'm weird.

(That's 5 including the thumb.)

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tstevens
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Fingers are tricky... In general I would tend to say the more rounded and cartoony the style the more you will lean towards 3 fingers plus a thumb. The more real and less rounded characters in general get 4 plus a thumb.

The problem you run in to is when the character has round hands: a fourth finger just doesn't fit. Look at LeFou from Beauty and the Beast. He is usually shown with Four fingers but it makes his hands look like bowling balls. However if you put three fingers on a hand that is long and slim it looks a bit alien.

I'd say try it both ways but be consistent once you choose. If you pay real close attention to some of the Disney films from the seventies you will notice characters that have three fingers in one scene and then four in another.

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bigshot
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Grim Natwick "Who Invented The Three Fingered Hand?"

Hope this helps
Steve

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thadk
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Here are some clips of Swat the Fly. I love this movie. I wish Fleischer held out longer. I'm sure a third feature would've been even better.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1heap_hoppity-goes-to-town_shortfilms

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2i3gf_mr-bug-goes-to-town_shortfilms

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gergley
IE # 200
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Thanks, thank ya, danke shoen.

For what it worth, I gave this thread a fairly generic title for a reason. I figure it could be used to discuss various aspects of character design.

The three fingers (and a thumb) vs. four fingers (and a thumb) is more of a preference question.

Since I do-- or often attempt to do--humorous cartoons, I skew towards three fingers. I choose that route without thinking. Similarly, when I decide to go with four fingers, it isn't something which needs to be thought about, it is just the best choice for the character.

I figure I'm not the only one who approaches it like that.

The only thing which needs to be considered is how they look. And for animation, the look is largely about how they will function in addition to if they are appropriate for the character.


But, don't take Fingers part of the topic as me looking for advice. I'm not.

I'm just curious what people prefer to draw/design. And/or the approach they most often find themselves utilizing. Once that is exhausted, another sub-topic can be added.

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gergley
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Flipper hands.

That's the best way I can describe it. And, I don't mean it in a bad way. It is when the fingers are squared off and/or the fingers may or may not overlap. And/or the fingers may or may not be completely different lengths.

When did those first show up?
Until I find a visual reference, the char. design for "Kim Possible" used it for some characters. And, perhaps that usage wasn't constant. Steve Silver did the designs on that, right? Or, was it someone else?

Was Silver (or whomever) the first or are there earlier examples?

And, I do realize that it wasn't just the hands. It was that those types of hands are a part of the overall approach to the design.

Just curious;it is not vitally important.

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gergley
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OOookay.

Well, flipper hands aside for now....


Got a character RE design question.

Say, I'm designing finished, polished versions of some characters with the blessing to redesign them a little to make them look better.

Now, in doing the drawings, I find flaws or inconsistancies in the originals which can be changed and result in something which looks more charming and marketable than some of the existing artwork( which was done by someone else). While this isn't a scenario of putting lipstick on a pig, what I'm doing is improving upon what was done.

Based on experience, the art should speak for itself. But, if the client is set in stone that it must not deviate too much from the original-- even if the revised/redesigns look better, what is a boy to say?

How do you pitch redesigns if the pictures don't speak for themselves to the client?

I should state that what I'm putting into this is both print friendly and the designs I'm doing could be animated, too. So, not only am I trying to make it look good but also trying to ensure that the designs are functional and that anyone else, print vendors, can work with them.

And, so far I have explained some of the limitations of the previous artwork as not being 100% perfect for the ways the client envisions using the art. They seem to understand that but they still like the style the previous person used. What I'm doing is trying to fine-tune that style with a workable approach, technique.

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tstevens
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You may ultimately be pushing a moot point as they say. I run into this a lot and a majority of the time the client will play along but will push you back into the design they know and love.

There are some things that you can do that most people won't really notice like fixing structural problems. However, when it comes to things like altering the eyes and face you might want to leave it alone.

I worked on a job about a month ago where the characters were designed by an illustrator for a comic strip and nearly every drawing was different. To add to it, we had the designer do 3/4 poses of the characters and when we got them they were considerably different than the original comic strip drawings. We tried to come up with new versions of the characters based on the models with some added things and it never worked out. When it came down to it we went right back to the clearest pose on the original mailer. I'm glads we did though. Ironically, my re-designs, in hind site, just weren't that good.

If you are working with characters that are already in use (ie print, direct mail, or tv) you should stick to the original as close as possible or you may risk re-doing a lot of work further down the line.

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tstevens
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Also, if you look at Dexter in the frame above, you will notice that part of what makes the character are things like the loose structure in the face, hands and feet. If you tried to redesign that to be structural or less flat you would essentially be losing the style and charm of the design. Sometimes it is easy to want to re-design something that may already be cool for what it is (although some designs really do suck).

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mojodesign
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Oh sweet, Shane. I had never seen that test of Flint. Do you have more?

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gergley
IE # 200
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tstevens,
Thanks.

Yeah. It has been my experience that those situations occur, too.

We'll see how this goes. I wouldn't want to disparage the person who did the original designs. Even though I don't know who did them, I wouldn't.

The thing is the reference drawings (roughs) I have are good. They are good starting points. I'm just trying to build on those drawings. And, building on construction and stuff like that.


The other thing is that there is one finished piece* which really doesn't build off of the reference drawings but which works well at a small scale, size. So, whatever flaws there are in it aren't as visible as they will be for other purposes.

That partially why I was brought on. So far so good but the situation may go as you describe.

The Dexter example....nah. The one finished character isn't that solid. Like I said style/technique used works for the current usage but it won't translate for other usage and may not work for the additional characters I need to do.

Enh. I wish I could show it but that wouldn't be right. So, you have to take my word on it.
Thanks again.

*and there is a chance a second person did that one. I will ask to make sure.

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