Body, style and personality are all very important factors within character design. They need to all work well together in order to create a memorable character. These factors all affect each other. The size and shape of the character can help to convey their personality and role. For example, a big, bulky shaped character could be viewed as intimidating or an angular shaped character could convey that the character is the villain in the story. This can be accomplished without relying on facial expressions and dialogue, ‘Shape language is a concept used in art and 3D animation to communicate meaning based on shapes we are familiar with. When used in character design, shapes can tell a story, show personality, and illicit an emotional response in the viewer without using any words.’ (Dreamfarmstudios, n.d.)
Lola design sketch front, back and side
For my character of Lola, I have used rounded shapes, especially in regards to the shape of her head. These shapes are seen ‘as safe and soft, on the contrary, angular shapes are warning for possible danger’ (Nikolaeva 2016) This relates well to my character as she is a kind and friendly character. She also is quite small sized, which not only helps to portray a childlike appearance but relates back to my research on Kawaii and Chibi style characters which come across as quite cute and innocent. The small size could also relate to the fact that Lola is quite a shy character.
The rounded shapes that make up my character
I decided to go for a simplistic design for my character. This is because I personally prefer this type of character design but also, owing to my limited and basic skills in 3D design, I didn’t want to produce anything too complicated for me to reproduce in 3D. My main inspiration for her overall body shape came from the Chibi character designs within anime (fig 1) and the character designs from Animal Crossing (fig 2), in particular the very basic hands, feet and hair. I feel like this simplistic style fits with the fact that my character is aimed at children. This will hopefully help the audience be able to connect with Lola well.
Lola’s overall style was informed by her being a Witch-In-Training. I gave her a dark, almost gothic style appearance, incorporating kawaii/J-fashion and the types of clothing seen in anime. My main objective throughout choosing her style was to keep her look cute and innocent in order to fit the demographic.
A ‘Character’s personality is a crucial part of creating engaging, believable and likeable designs. It is not enough to have [a] beautifully drafted character, but your audience should be able to relate to it and “connect”’ (Nikolaeva, 2016). Lola’s personality is quite shy and she is also quite clumsy sometimes. I am hoping that this will come across in my character design and that my target audience will be able to identify with her.
Dreamfarmstudios (n.d.) Shape language in character design. Available online: https://dreamfarmstudios.com/blog/shape-language-in-character-design/ [Accessed 13/11/2020].
Nikolaeva, B (2016) How to convey character’s personality through shape, variance and size. Available online: https://graphicmama.com/blog/conveying-characters-personality/ [Accessed 13/11/2020].
fig 1 – Mayor Totoro (2020) Current fav outfits. Available online: https://mayor-totoro.tumblr.com/post/614158624997228544/current-fav-outfits [Accessed 29/10/2020].
fig 2 – Crunchyroll (2015) Is the order a rabbit?? wonderful party! limited edition comes with chibi chino figure. Available online: https://www.crunchyroll.com/en-gb/anime-news/2015/10/22/is-the-order-a-rabbit-wonderful-party-limited-edition-comes-with-chibi-chino-figure [Accessed 25/10/2020].