Sunday, December 4, 2011

Design in Animation

Design always comes before the actual animation process. Using traditional drawing techniques you create characters, props, environment, colour, compositions, lighting and storyboards. Everything needs to be planned out and you have to know every detail before you go through the animation process, without this your animation may not be up to its full potential.

Character Design Tips:
  • Research and evaluate - reference is key, look at why certain characters are really successful and why others are not. Break down the character and pick out the main characteristics.
  • Design and plan - where and in what format will the character be seen? there is no point in creating something really detailed for it only to be placed on a small mobile phone screen.
  • Who is it aimed at? - think about the target audience, make the character age appropriate.
  • Visual impact - the character needs to stand out from everything that is out there these days. The character needs to be strong and interesting, something that will grab the audiences attention.
  • Line qualities and style  - lines can convey different meanings on a character. Soft smooth lines, the character will be more approachable, where as rough jagged lines might show that the character is uneasy and not as friendly.
  • Exaggerated characteristics - can emphasise certain characteristics of your character. Exaggeration defines features of your character which will make them more recoginisable to the audience.
  • Colour - colour is really important, it can help communicate the personality of the character. Dark colours such as purples, black and greys can portray villains; whereas light colours such as whites, yellows, blues and pinks show good and purity. 
  • Adding accessories - props and accessories help to emphasise character traits and their background. They will add to the character, however the character should still be distinguishable even without the accessories.
  • The third dimension - if your character is going to exist in a 3D world, you need to figure out and make sure you know how they are going to look from all angles. Height, weight and physical shape is all important.
  • Conveying personality - personality can be shown by the way the character has been drawn. The personality needs to be interesting, looks alone will not necessarily make a good character.
  • Express yourself - expressions play a big part in showing how the character convey their emotions. It will depend on their personality but they could be wildly exaggerated or even muted and shy.
  • Goals and dreams - the character needs a specific goal or dream. It's that, that will give them their drive in personality and this will also produce a more dramatic storyline for your character.
  • Building back stories - back stories are very important, without these you will know nothing about the character. Where do they come from, any certain events that took place to change them in anyway, why do they have that specific goal or dream. All these will make your character more believable and help back up the solidity of them.
  • Quick on the draw - don't be afraid to experiment. This one does go against a lot of the previous tips however it can be good to just let go and drawing anything. From there you can then develop the character more in a specific way.
  • Hone, plan and polish - some people prefer to be more structured and give more thought to the character. Have everything planned out, how they speak, act, even walk as well as having the artwork to go with it.
  • Drawn in mud - no matter what medium you produce your character in, they should always look the same, they should still have the same appeal.
  • Real world drawing - allow real world things to be incorporated into your drawings, they may be able to add to your character in some way.
  • Release the beast - always get feedback for your work. Ask what is good about your character, if anything can be improved. Try asking your specific target audience as they are the ones you are directing your character/animation at. Without feedback you cannot improve and you may be missing something vital or have over complicated a certain factor.
  • Beyond the character - the environment in which your character lives needs to fit in with themselves and what they do. Having an environment that is completely irrelevant will take away the believability of the character. The character, its back story and the environment have to all work together.
  • Fine tuning a figure - break down your character and examine each feature, question it, especially facial features. If something does not fit or isn't exact people will not be able to relate or interact with them. It's all about believability. 

I find these tips really helpful, even though I knew a few of them already they help emphasise the importance of them. I think when it comes to designing my characters in future I will try and go by this list making sure it achieves each section.

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