Jay Shuster worked on Cars and as you can see above it shows the process of how he incorporates a cows characteristics into a tractor. In the film itself, it is straight away distinguishable that it is meant to be representing a cow - not just because of the way it is animated, but of its aesthetic look. It has the same basic structure of a cows head and Shuster has just adapted certain parts of the tractor to look like the features of the cow. If you base a character on a real thing and you want it to be noticeable then you need to make it look like it in some way. But you can't stop there, once you have the basic idea it needs to be pushed and developed. Without development you cannot see what will work and what won't. It is better to have several ideas and evaluate and possibly combine them, rather than just sticking with the one idea.
Character design needs development, and the drawings above show this is great detail. Without showing how the character is going to move, how will the animators know what to animate and how. For Wall-e the way he moves is far more characterised than other robots, he has his own personality - this comes through in the movements he does. Yes an animator can elaborate on movements and gestures, however it all must start with the character designer.
I find it really impressive the work any character designer comes up with. I know now that through looking at Jay Shuster I will definitely need to expand on the developmental work for any character I produce. I want to be able to produce a solid character that has a good back story and personality however I find that I have trouble in drawing out my ideas and coming to a design which is what I envisioned. I will try to improve on this by looking at other character designers work and see how they are able to produce their characters and what, if any was their thought process behind it.