ow important is character design?
Well, if you ask me, it is VERY important. If your audience notices your character design in a bad way, then you're doing it wrong. Just like when an audience notices bad camera work, or when they notice a horrible color choice. They may not know exactly what it is that they don't like about your work, but they do know that something isn't right. If you notice the picture below, there are a few things that come to mind when you begin analyzing the design of these characters. Yes, they're simple. And they are limited to a very tight color pallet. Both of these are good. Also, something you probably didn't notice: the characters seem alive on the page. They have movement and facial expressions that are in line with what their characters might actually be doing.
A few character designs from Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzeling
for the Nintendo DS by Jay Epperson.
Also from Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzeling Adventure,
done by Jay Epperson for the Nintendo DS.
So, this is something to think about for your design. And actually, if you think about it, characters designed for animation should be simple... regardless of what its for. It should also be designed for your target age and for the genre. The picture examples posted in here by Jay Epperson are for the Nintendo DS. That should tell you right there that it is for kids. And as such, you'll notice a few things that would be different from characters designed for the XBox.
The proportions are extremely deformed. I don't care to what corner of the world you hike to, you will never find anybody shaped like the fighting englishman up there. His proportions are considered "cute," by way of shortened limbs and small hands and feet, along with his ginormous head. The colors are also very vivid and bold. This goes for all shows, applications, and games that are made strictly for kids. It's not 255 red, because that would make your tv bleed (and cry), but its 250 red and 5 something else. Meaning, it'll still look red. Bright red. Most of the colors are like this for kids because they are attracted to them better than other, duller, or washed out colors. And that's why the monster up there is pink, and the example below is red and deep brown.
Also a character design by Jay Epperson.
And no, this one wasn't used by Nintendo DS.
Even evil Ben Franklin, as seen above, is in the same cute proportions that the fighting englishman is in. One major difference, however, is the fact that evil Ben has a very, very obvious basic shape. His basic structure will start at that ginormous gut he has, in the form of a very large circle. Also, notice how simplisitic his outfit is. He is also the most heavily detailed characters out of all three posted here. I mean, he has buttons!!! Granted, I know it's three of them, but the fighting englishman doesn't have any. And the three monsters aren't even wearing cloths, save for the one on the right with the oversized helmet.
A breakdown of the generics listed here will be posted at a later time. I'll break down facial expressions, action posses, color theory, and applying basic design to match the different target age groups. [END]