Join Dermot O' Connor for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding appeal and design, part of 2D Animation Principles.
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Appeal is probably the single most important aspect in animation, that invisible quality, the charm that you're trying to achieve in your drawings. You can have all the technical skill in the world. It doesn't matter if people just don't like to look at your work. So I try to achieve appeal, of course. Let me show you some examples from my own work. So here we have a scene from a, a project that I'm currently working on. And it's a conceptual sketch of the Professor, and he's taking his student on a journey through the Universe.
So how I attempted to achieve appeal, I can try to tell you how but of course, how much appeal this has, will be determined by the audience not by me. But I, I try. So how I try is by having a simple design with lots of round shapes, or baby proportions especially on the professor, tiny little button eyes with big highlights on them. And essentially making him look like a bit of a teddy bear, and insofar as the more angular and pointy student can have appeal I'm trying to squeeze as much out of him as I can as well.
Although he's not truly meant to be as likable of course, as the professor character. So we have some of the shots of these two, here in outer space and the Professor as you can see with a bubble helmet, the student with a different shape because obviously you want contrast. You can't have both characters being little chubby balls. And in the next shot, we see yet another of the two explorers floating in outer space. Now just because the good guys are cute and have appeal, this doesn't mean that a villain can't have appeal, or an ugly character can't have appeal.
Of course, they can. And oftentimes, people like to watch the bad guys even more than the good guys. So in the next panel, we'll see the the two explorers encounter a, a rather horrible looking space alien, with far too many eyeballs and nostrils and teeth to be quite beautiful. But I, I try to make the guy at least appealing, or to trigger the curiosity of the audience even though we, we only see him for a few panels. So in the next shot we see a, some different frames of the arrival of this alien. And again, the scale dwarfs the two people down below.
But again, by using these round shapes and by you know, getting very strong eye designs, I'm hoping that when people see this figure, they'll just stop for a second and go, ooh, what's that, I want to see more of him. And in the next panel, some rough sketches of the classic Frankenstein monster, and he is a, a typical archetypal villain who isn't quite a villain, and the audience usually ends up sympathizing with. Characters like this are, are good exercises to test yourself with, to see if you can do something that's ugly, but yet not quite repulsive.
Now in the search for appeal, that can lead you down all kinds of paths in terms of coming up with really exotic character designs and really interesting looking costumes. And this is a, a character that I put together for this course, just to see if I could do something to, to catch the audience's eye. Now the only thing that you need to watch out for when you start doing this, and it's a natural tendency, and that is to confuse the costume of the character with the character of the character. In other words, what is going on inside this Steampunk Viking's head? I couldn't tell you based on this drawing.
All I can tell you is, this is an interesting drawing certainly, aspects of this drawing have appeal. I want, I want to see more, I'm curious about it and you know, if I saw another page or two of this character I would be intrigued, but I still don't know anything meaningful about the essence of the character himself. So, when you do begin to design your own characters or when you work on other people's characters, do try to get inside the head of these people and what are their hopes, their fears, their dreams. You should at least have an inkling of something beyond what they're wearing and what they look like.
And I think that's what gives us true appeal, when there's more to the character than just the lines. When you really begin to be tricked and fooled that there's a soul or an essence or a life behind the lines on the page, or the image on the screen.
These lessons are designed with Flash in mind, but work just as well with any other 2D animation program.
- Creating gesture drawings
- Comparing storyboard styles
- Squash, stretch, and volume
- Comparing timing and spacing
- Using anticipation, overshoot, settle, overlap, and follow-through
- Creating eccentric walks
- Building stock mouth shapes for dialogue
- Creating thumbnails