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Hi I'm Gus.
These are for a project I am working on. I am playing around with the proportions at this stage. I personally prefer the third of each series of characters as I think they work better when shrunk to a smaller size. (which is what I am going for)
I am a little dubious about the girls feet at the moment but not entirely sure how to improve this. The positioning of the guys hands looks a little to "pose-y" to me and I am looking to change that as well. (Please parden the guys arm on the first image. I was just playing around to see it in a different position.)
Please tell me what you think...
References, did you use them?(also standing in front of a mirror and acting out the poses can help as well.
A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
It seems to me the main issue here is whether the style is supposed to be "realistic" (more or less) or "cartoony." If they're realistic, you should stick to the canonical proportions of a standard 8-9 head figure; if they're cartoony, you should exaggerate the proportions a lot more (wide hips and tiny feet for the woman, broad shoulders for the man.) Right now you're sort of stuck in the middle, and the proportions feel not-right as a result.
9?! People extremely rarely have heroic proportions... Like, never. I usually think 8 heads an exaggeration too (few people is like that in reality). I know mosrt artists love to draw people slimmer and taller than normal humans, Loomis wrote about art directors who prefer 8+ heads tall figures, I don't want to slavishly follow that in my hobby.
The drawings are stylized, cartoony proportions work for them, I wouldn't use realistic proportions without a very good reason. Just my humble opinion.
A 9-head figure still has the same basic proportions as a real human. A cartoon figure can have wildly exaggerated proportions. JPEG below.
The point here is to not get too close to actual human proportions unless the style is supposed to be realistic, because the figures start to feel weird. You can Google "uncanny valley" for more information on the topic--it's most often used in reference to CG characters but it is also relevant here.
The proportions don't matter all that much, no matter if you use one head or twelve heads the overall look will stay the same.
The looks is put together from shape, relations of the shapes to each other, lines and color.
Please don't be annoyed if I say this:
I don't like these and I would hate to see them in print or on tv.
I rarley say that I don't like a piece of art but these characters have several things that just punch my brain.
If you want to use these for animation you will have difficult, irregular shapes that are not really fun to animate, neither by traditional animation nor flash/after effects-animation.
The characters themselves are not unique by design, they have an outdated 90s animation style to them - realistic look, no language of shapes.
Think Captain Planet or educational comics financed by the government.
Newer animation characters use more flowing and dynamic shapes, often times concentrated on a more refined look. I am so pampered by good tv-animation designs that I never want to see those old wonky, hard-edged characters again.
The anime eyes are no help, it was a fad for some time to imitate anime-style by using sharp edges and big eyes without understanding why anime-style works. It doesn't work here.
The other thing is that these are stock characters with very clear oldschool gender-roles. Blonde, long-haired girl in pink and action-loving adventure-boy with white sneakers, red shirt and jeans. There's nothing unique or interesting about them. They are one of the most commonly used clichees.
The faces of the characters don't look pleasing to me.
There are technical things like the different eye- and eyebrow-sizes because of misunderstood perspective. Then there are design choices: The lines on the boys forehead make him look a lot older then he is most likley supposed to be.
There's more stuff going on with the face, it has to do with design choices again.
If you want to educate yourself and get better, do your research, broaden your horizons, steal good designs and try to understand why they work. Read up on Blogs and books about character design. Don't forget to do life drawing and observe how actual humans look and act. That way you don't have to use clichees that everyone has lazily used since 20 years.
There are a ton of good books about character design out there:
- The whole Force series by Mattessi (Force- dynamic life drawing for animators, Force character design from life drawing)
- That Preston Blair animation book: http://www.animationarchive.org/?p=2091 (this is the complete old version, there is a newer version out where the copyrighted characters are changed with watered-down, badly-drawn characters)
- That good old "How to draw comics the Marvel way" book
- The "Drawn to life" book by Walt Stanchfield which focuses on life-drawing and design
- and a ton of Blogs, like John Ks blog or http://characterdesign.blogspot.de/
Please please please educate yourself.
For anyone interested, a bad design is a lack of integrity in the design.
There are designs that look shitty and unskillful, like drawings done in MS Paint or animations in super cheap 3D programs - if the whole production is equally bad the work as a whole makes sense and the awfullness just adds to the fun. Thinking outside the box of quality/traditional esthetics can sometimes lead to unique solutions which are interesting and versatile again.
There is something like a curve in design, where the shitty designs can have an accidentally interesting quality to them (like children's drawings) and the well-done designs can have a skillful quality.
The worst designs are the mediocre ones, designs that are not bad but that try to imitate the good designs - they are dull imitations.
Last edited by Kiera; April 22nd, 2012 at 07:11 AM.
Glad so many of you replied!
Artimatum: Yes, I tried to use as much reference as I could for the characters. No "direct" reference tho.
Giacomo, shiNIN: I see what you guys mean about the Cartoon/realistic elements clashing. I believe I spent far to much of my time getting the clothing "right" that in the end it contrasted with the cartoony features.
Kiera: Wow Kiera! Thanks for your in-depth post! I will definitely get onto the advice you gave. (Although I am afraid I have a bit of a deadline on this project so I can't change anything drastic.)
I should also say that I was trying to go for the clichés as that was in the project's outline. Although I do get your point! Thanks.