Designing face for a simple design while avoiding identical face

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    Designing face for a simple design while avoiding identical face

    We've seen it all the times in the entertainment media that sometimes characters just have the same face. South Park, for instance, if we took off the hats of the main characters and imagine them bald, you will not be able to tell them apart. The same goes with some Japanese media, for instance, http://danbooru.donmai.us/post/show/50083/

    I've read more about this issue here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OnlySixFaces and what I am interested in achieving: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...stOfSnowflakes

    Real life human faces have a lot higher variation. It's very complex and offer uniqueness to each individual. If we need to draw realistic arts, then fine, follow the nature. But when it comes to simpler drawing, such as those in the animation, then, this can be a bit of trouble. Right now, I am thinking that non-realistic art style does not mix with this.

    Sure, we can design characters, give them clothes, put all uniqueness to them, while having them sharing similar faces, and the audience can still distinguish them apart. But can we do anything about this for the simpler art style? If we have a scene where all characters must take off their hats and clothes, this may spell troubles.

    Again, simplicity may not permit this. For instance, the mouth. Most of the time, I see artist draw the mouth as a simple identical line on many characters. In real life, our mouths have different volumetric sizes. Some got chubby mouths. But when we look at our very mouth, what do we see. Little pink-red shade with many vertical strokes with a big horizontal stroke, perhaps. Now, it goes without saying that drawing this kind of mouth will not work on characters with simple design. If Cartman from South Park got this kind of mouth, it would be disturbing. After all, these simpler drawings are simplification from a very complex realistic shape, yet, simplification seems to erase out many distinguishable details.

    But again, when we say "simple design", this is normally what we must defined "how much simple" in the first place. More complexity should allow more variation, yes, no?

    Or is the statement "Designing face for a simple design while avoiding identical face" an oxymoron? What are some of the possible things we can do in this case? Art style is critical here, as some styles are not flexible enough. Combining various styles can give you distinguishable faces, but that may make the characters as if they are from different titles, or worse, making them out of context, distracting the audience.

    There are already several solutions passively proposed by many mangaka and western artists, from the given link above. But I still would like to hear from you guys too: what do you guys think about this issue?

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  3. #2
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    I think there is quite a lot you can do with a face in a simple design. You can vary in the face shape, in the eyebrows, magnitude of the facial features, where they stand on a face...

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    My sketchbook - it's a little sketchy.
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    The limitation of the design, just shows the limitation of the designer.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
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    I had this trouble very much when it came to everyone having the same face because I use to have a comic with 30+ characters around five years ago.

    It wasn't really a trouble though, it was almost easy really.

    When it comes to the face, add distinguishing features you can't remove, such as birthmarks, moles, discolorations, scars.

    Then there are the shape of the eyes. Narrow to Wide, Tall to short. The chin is a really good way to help differentiate characters as well. Make it pointy, round, narrow face, wide face thick cheeks and the like.

    Come to think of it, I think it's hard to keep the same face with one character consistent. What withall the variations.

    Reminds me of Neko Nya nya sugar girls where Hitoshi's face style changed every 5 seconds. DAT CHIN.

    "When the world tells you 'Give up', say to yourself 'I'll try it one more time." - Joy Joyner
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    Quote Originally Posted by OmenSpirits View Post
    The limitation of the design, just shows the limitation of the designer.
    I do completely agree with this. Just curious though, if you are to design South Park main characters' faces without changing the art style, what would you do?

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    Strange question, but okay.

    the characters on that show have some diversity in design by changing height and costumes. Body shape similarity was probably chosen because of the ease of animating., before they went computer, then it became about the visual style that it established.

    Designers, illustrators, do select their clientele, & since my design ideas wouldn't fit the show's identity.

    Design = trademark identity in this case. My choice would be more a traditional animation
    route. In this case, since it's kids, possible the Peanuts cartoon style.

    If I were approached to redesign it as a paying gig, I'd be more inclined to come up with something unique.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
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  12. #7
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    South Park is a terrible example to look at for simple-but-varied character design... The show deliberately opts for a "crude, cheap" look, and the limited designs reinforce that. Remember, they're going out of their way to look like badly-animated cut paper, on purpose.

    Better sources to look at might be classic TV animation of the 50's and 60's, like the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons... Character design was very simple because of the medium, but characters were often quite varied in spite of that. You can do a lot with simple shapes, just by changing the size of various parts, changing the relative placement of features, exaggerating things in different ways, etc. Or by using simple but irregular shapes which can vary infinitely... (look at the different head-shapes, in, say, the Flintstones. Each one is a different, distinctive, but simple shape.)

    Actually, tell you what. Get Jack Hamm's "Cartooning the Head and Figure", and check out the first half-dozen pages or so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    South Park is a terrible example to look at for simple-but-varied character design... The show deliberately opts for a "crude, cheap" look, and the limited designs reinforce that. Remember, they're going out of their way to look like badly-animated cut paper, on purpose.

    Better sources to look at might be classic TV animation of the 50's and 60's, like the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons... Character design was very simple because of the medium, but characters were often quite varied in spite of that. You can do a lot with simple shapes, just by changing the size of various parts, changing the relative placement of features, exaggerating things in different ways, etc. Or by using simple but irregular shapes which can vary infinitely... (look at the different head-shapes, in, say, the Flintstones. Each one is a different, distinctive, but simple shape.)

    Actually, tell you what. Get Jack Hamm's "Cartooning the Head and Figure", and check out the first half-dozen pages or so.
    I own that book.

    And when in doubt, WARNER BROS!



    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
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  14. #9
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    I think the best way to make your designed characters realistic would be to take inspiration from life. For the anime .gif you linked, that's very true of certain artists, who just use a basic template and change key features, like dressing up a doll.

    But for the better artists, characters are very much drawn from life inspirationally. Everyone has a completely different face, and once you've studied Loomis or whatever, or just drawn a few hundred different people, then drawing the same face with different hair is absurd. Have you seen the videos that Jason Manley and ZhangLu did on painting faces from imagination? Great videos, very inspirational, especially because as well as focusing on the painting and techniques, Jason spends a lot of time talking about capturing the feeling; the emotion and essence, the soul and spirit, basically, their character.

    I highly recommend them, here's the preview for the female one, and here's the link to the thread.




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