Designing/Building 3D Characters with Personality

There are many ways that a characters personality can be conveyed within 3D environments. One way would be through the design and build of it. This may include their visual attributes such as the colours used on the character design and how the certain colours can be associated with a certain trait. It could also be the shape of the character which is a very important consideration when 3D modelling characters. 

Conveying a characters emotion well through the use of movements is a good indicator of the characters personality and ‘when used effectively, 3D animation can communicate and evoke emotions which actors or words simply cannot’ (Durant, 2017). Even really subtle movements of the character can show the audience exactly how the character is feeling – even in characters that don’t always look as humanoid and expressive, such as the robotic character of Wall-E by Pixar (fig 1) ’the way Wall-E’s eyebrows drops ever so slightly to evoke sadness or the way he shudders when he’s scared. Even the widening of his animated eyes when he finds his true love. […] these human characteristics we all recognise create a deeper sense of empathy with the characters.’ (Durrant, 2017). 

A characters body language is also just as important as the movements and facial expressions, sometimes even more so as ‘communicating a personality through body language and silhouette is far more powerful than only showing emotion through facial expression’ (Nikolaeva, 2016). This may be through ‘hands, arms, shoulders, legs, torso and head gestures [that] can help reveal the emotional state of our character’ (Animation Guides, n.d.). I will be considering all of these when it comes to creating my animations. 

fig 1 – shows the character Wall-E showing his emotion and personality through his eyes

As my character model was already created by me in the previous module, I had already put a lot of thought into the personality of my character in terms of the design. However, now, I have to consider how to show her personality through the animations that I will be creating. One way of this is that I will be taking into consideration the 12 principles of animation. A good example of using one of these principles to help show personality within my 3D environment would be the staging principle. For my animations, this will particularly involve the positioning of my character and the camera perspective as ‘changing the type of shot as well as the position and size of the character in the scene affects how the audience perceives him […] positioning the character in the bottom can make him feel powerless, placing in the top can be translated as a sign of authority’ (Animation Guides, n.d.). I did a quick sketch of this concept in fig 2 to help me when doing my animations. For my character, I will have to consider her personality and how these traits could be perceived through the staging.

fig 2 – my sketch showing how different personalities can be conveyed through the camera perspective 


Durant, A (2017) How to convey emotion with animation: Falling for a 3D bin. Available online: [Accessed 31/03/21].

Nikolaeva (2016) How to convey character’s personality through shape, variance and size. Available online: [Accessed 31/03/21].

Fig 1: Durant, A (2017) How to convey emotion with animation: Falling for a 3D bin. Available online: [Accessed 31/03/21].

Animation Guides (n.d.) How to make character emotions more expressive in animation. Available online: [Accesssed 31/03/21].