How an Animator Can Bring Your Characters to Life

One of the central features of any animated production is the character that populates it. You provide the vision for those characters. A skilled animation company sharpens that vision and brings it to life. There are many ways in which the animator develops characters perfectly suited for whatever type of project you need, from advertising animation to educational animation and more. The following are just a few of the valuable contributions the 2D animation studio can make to character design.

Target The Desired Audience

The exact look and feel of any animated project depends in large part upon the audience for which it is intended. For instance, an educational program geared toward children would use bold patterns and bright colors, whereas an animated explainer video for business executives would use more restrained design elements. The studio you choose to provide animation for your project will enhance its effectiveness by creating characters that are appropriate for the audience you wish to reach.

Animation studios will help you define the correct style for your audience right from the start by also providing you with concept design services. These services formulate vague ideas into a specific overall style. A skilled team of animators can walk you through the development of your concept and then create unique characters that fit both your vision and the audience who will be enjoying the finished product.

Visually Depict Personality

Each character in your animated project will have a distinct personality. This personality is one of the traits that will set them apart from the animated characters already out there. Through concept design and character design, your animation partner will work with you to determine the personality that each character possesses. Developing this personality may involve creating a back-story to give them history and depth. The animator will then use this background to inform their understanding and development of the character.

The animator will use their skills to take the traits that were fleshed out earlier in the process and visually depict them in the character’s body shape, facial expressions, and movements. For instance, the animator will use lines to create a body for the character that reveals their personality. Soft lines may denote gentleness, while sharp corners may reveal stronger or negative aspects of the character’s personality. Animator Moritz Schneider, for instance, explains that he used sharp edges on one of his characters to depict that character’s hidden strength and integrity. These sometimes subtle design elements convey to the viewer aspects of the character’s personality that may not be explicitly articulated in the dialogue or actions and give him or her added depth and intrigue.

In addition, the animator will use design elements such as accessories and colors to reveal a character’s thoughts, feelings, and preferences. These elements can become integral parts of the character. For instance, the yellow complexion of the Simpsons has become their trademark look, one of the reasons they first captured viewers’ attention. Reds and blues can convey a sense that the character has something in common with comic book heroes, while dark colors will give viewers the impression that the character has some less than pleasant aspects to his or her personality. Accessories can give viewers a glimpse into the character’s circumstances (such as whether they are rich, stylish, plain, or simple).

Finally, 2D animation companies can add other design features, such as facial expressions, to give the viewer visual clues to the character’s personality. At times, they will exaggerate these features to emphasize certain aspects of the character’s personality, or swerve away from strict realism to create cartoon characters that will have greater appeal to the sensibilities of the target audience. Regardless of the specific techniques they use, however, animators will all strive to produce characters that fit comfortably into the purpose and overall feeling of the project.

Create An Environment To Complement The Character Design

Finally, traditional animation studios can bring your characters to life by creating environments that complement or further reveal their personalities. For instance, an animator may choose to reflect the conflict a character is facing by inserting elements into the surrounding environment that visually clash with the character. Alternatively, the animator may choose to insert small details into certain scenes (such as background objects or colors) that match the proportions or interests of the character. A good animator will understand how the environment interacts with the characters being created so that all the elements of a project fit together convincingly. In fact, a skilled animator will be intentional about nearly every detail they add into a scene, so that the entire project comes together as a realistic and cohesive work of art.

Character design is essential to the animation process, because the characters’ personalities, appearances, and actions have the ability to affect the success of the entire project. Viewers will relate to or be turned off by their experience with those characters. As a result, the animator will work carefully to choose the colors, shapes, styles, and environmental details around the character to create a personality and role within the project that will satisfy your vision and appeal to your audiences. A skilled animator can help you not only flesh out your vision for the characters populating your project but also build them and the world around them into a form that will charm, enchant, instruct, and motivate the audiences you wish to reach.

Powerhouse Animation is a traditional 2D animation studio based in Austin, Texas with offices in Burbank, California. Since 2001, Powerhouse has been bringing ideas to life through animation, illustration, and motion graphics.