Creating Engaging Characters For Animation & Motion Design Projects

Apr 8, 2024

In the dynamic world of animation, character design is a crucial step that helps to shape the heart of a project. A thoughtful and well planned design is more than just aesthetics, it can make people feel, remember, and experience a range of emotions. Come with us as we explore some key strategies to help bring characters to life in your animation and motion design projects.


Embrace the Vision

Understanding the client and their vision is key to align character design seamlessly with the brand's concept and personality. Taking into account cultural context, script nuances, and the target audience is critical. This comprehensive approach ensures that a well-crafted design doesn't just enrich the visual experience of the user but will substantially improve the experience overall.



Shape Personality Through Design

Every element a designer chooses to incorporate into a character design will influence the viewer's perception of that character. From the shape language, color palette to body proportions, each aesthetic choice helps to express the character’s personality. For example, vibrant colors may suggest vivacity, while softer tones convey a sense of calm. More square shapes can evoke the image of a stable, strong and robust character, while triangular shapes can communicate danger, speed or instability. By combining diverse elements of design strategically, you can communicate your character’s unique personality, and allow it to stand out and capture the audience.



The Impact of Contrast

One of the fundamental principles in character design is the use of contrast. There is magic in combining opposing elements, enhancing visual appeal and ensuring that the elements we want to stand out do stand out. Whether it’s in the shape of physical forms, personality traits, color palettes, or drawing styles, the potential in creating contrast in your character design is limitless. A recognizable silhouette can go a long way to ensure your character is memorable to your audience. Take the time to add some dramatic elements to your design and really give the audience something to talk about!



Adapting to Animation

Few things are better than seeing your amazing design come to life in the hands of an animator. When it comes to animation there are definitely some considerations that need to be accounted for. Certain details or shapes can be challenging, and in turn, expensive to animate, depending on the design technique used. It’s a delicate balance between visual impact and seamless animation to ensure your characters come to life in the most captivating way. Here are some examples of things to look out for:

  • Animation Style:  The animation style is usually determined at the beginning of a project based on project goals and/or budget and it is important to make sure the characters are being designed to support the animation style. The more detail we add to the character may have a huge impact on the amount of time it takes to animate that character- especially if the animation style for the project will be using cel animation.

  • Dialogue/Lip Sync: Will the character be delivering dialogue and require lip sync animation. If so, it is important to consider the mouth is able to articulate the different phonemes for motion.

  • Replicable & Strong Posing: A good character design for any animation project is not only expressive but should also be able to be replicable and support strong posing. An animator should be able to draw the character over and over with ease if cel-animation is the route for the project or be able to create a variety of poses if different animation mediums like After Effects, Moho or 3D animation are being used. One way to ensure the character design is going to be animator friendly is to go through the exercise to create a model/turnaround sheet for the character in a front, profile, three quarters and side view.



Aligning with Project Objectives

In the world of character creation, keeping the project objectives in focus should be the guiding principle. Consider the distinct roles of each character—whether they're stepping into the limelight as a primary character or playing a supporting role in the narrative. As we develop these characters, their impact on the story takes center stage, steering our design decisions. The more we understand the roles these characters fill, the more our design process gains direction. It's a blend of storytelling and design, with each character adding to the vivid narrative.


Let's do this together!

As we dedicate time and effort to the design phase, it becomes the foundation for characters that not only come to life but also captivate the audience. Challenges in this crucial stage are inevitable, but fear not— an animation/motion design studio's experience can be your efficient guide throughout the process. So, let's do this together, creating characters that not only meet project goals but also become integral players in the vibrant world of animation and motion design.



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Headquarters

Los Angeles, California

TheLittleLabs is a NMSDC certified minority-owned company.

Copyright © 2016 - 2024 • TheLittleLabs LLC. All rights reserved.

General Inquiries

Headquarters

Los Angeles, California

TheLittleLabs is a NMSDC certified minority-owned company.

Copyright © 2016 - 2024 • TheLittleLabs LLC. All rights reserved.