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  1. #1
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    The Science of Cute

    So, aesthetically speaking, I am a huge fan of all things cute. Ever since my Lisa Frank binders of the 90's, a part of me has never left my little girl Horsey phase. Because of this, the Sanrio corporation has me in it's adorable clutches for many, many years.

    Like most artists, when I see a style I like, I like to try and draw it. I thought I'd design some stationary or memo paper for myself- like this. And I was astonished at how hard it was. They've taken the formula for cuteness and reduced it down to the point it's most basic and fundamental state. If one PIXEL is off, the whole thing looks off. I did notice it's easier to do in Illustrator that other digital programs.

    It's embarrassing to admit that I'm having issues with what seems like quite a simplistic style. But I totally am. Any similar experiences? Can someone shed some light on adorable mystery?


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  3. #2
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    I've experienced it. I don't know what it is, but I know completely what you are talking about.
    I wish I could help more, but I can only say that you should put your own spin on the design.
    EDIT: You are not kawaii desu nyaa enough.

  4. #3
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    They must have noticed that one pixel could ruin it all too 'cause they've pasted the same face on each of them.
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    And then God said, "Let us make man in our likeness and our image. Let us make him ridiculously hard to draw so that poor artists everywhere will have to spend 10,000+ hours failing repeatedly before they can begin to capture the form and likeness onto a two-dimensional surface." And there was man. And it was good. And artists everywhere lost their minds.

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    I do not think "cute" is hard to do, but simplistic styles certainly are. There is less going on to hide it if you fuck up a shape or a placement. That's why "simple" licensed styles require extensive model sheets.

  6. #5
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    Agreed on both counts. My best bet might be to make a ton of small images individually and then piece them together!

  7. #6
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    I noticed a lot of characters that are considered cute share similarities with babies, namely the proportions and where the facial features are placed. Relatively large-looking head and eyes placed lower on the face, smallish nose and/or mouth, small body and limbs.

    Other things to help with adding to cuteness:

    - rounded edges
    - minimalistic elements
    - anything commonly associated with feelings of happiness

  8. #7
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    Well, at least the amount of reference material to study is abundant!
    http://thedesigninspiration.com/arti...r-a-good-mood/
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  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    Well, at least the amount of reference material to study is abundant!
    http://thedesigninspiration.com/arti...r-a-good-mood/
    and it's also a pleasure to look at. d'aaaaw, bunnies.
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  10. #9
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    I just worked on a project where I had to cutify a bunch of normal objects.
    I can't show them because the games not out but baically making it cute has to do with pumping air into it. Imagine if you were asked to draw an AK47; well to draw it cute you would take the shape and pump air into it. Draw it as if it was a macy's parade balloon. Cute is much easier to do with bunnies and puppies and little kids but we had 100's of normal objects to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    I can't show them because the games not out but baically making it cute has to do with pumping air into it.
    Depends what you're pumping air into and how much you pump. Too much air into the wrong... very wrong... things and you end up with creepy inflation porn...

    It's true though that it can be harder to match characters in simple styles than in realistic or complex styles. I do a lot of work with licensed characters, and with the simpler ones you have to be veeeery careful about exactly where you put each dot and dash - just a little off and they're a completely different character, or they turn from cute to scary. Usually there's a ton of model sheets, and boy, do you need 'em...

    (Actually, Sanrio is kind of scary by default if you ask me.)

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  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    baically making it cute has to do with pumping air into it. Imagine if you were asked to draw an AK47; well to draw it cute you would take the shape and pump air into it..
    Now that you mention it, I think they discussed about this in the making-of documents of Lilo and Stitch, where they used this technique to design the visuals and especially the alien technology (guns, ships, etc).
    They did have visual examples of that, so it might be worth viewing for the OP.
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    Quote Originally Posted by crossmirage View Post
    I noticed a lot of characters that are considered cute share similarities with babies, namely the proportions and where the facial features are placed. Relatively large-looking head and eyes placed lower on the face, smallish nose and/or mouth, small body and limbs.
    Definitely. Check out these sketches done by Preston Blair on how to make a cute character.

    The Science of Cute

    And these same principles are used for other, more realistic, or slightly older characters. Especially the princesses and such. Big eyes, round head, small nose; very much childlike porportions. Look at Ariel:

    The Science of Cute
    Last edited by Choob; June 3rd, 2011 at 03:45 PM.

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  16. #13
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    Here's a New York Times article I read years ago

    The Cute Factor
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  17. #14
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    And it's not true that if a pixel is off it's no longer cute because... there's a ton of cute styles out there and even in reality a baby kitten and a duckling look very different. But the proportions need to be correct, so start by analyzing those.

    Personally I lean more towards creepy-cute.
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  18. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Droid View Post
    Check out these sketches done by Disney on how to make a cute character.
    Good stuff, I think these are not by Disney, but from the old edition of Preston Blair's Cartoon Animation

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