Character Design for Animation Portfolio 2011

Now that I’ve completed my first semester, it’s my great pleasure to share my class portfolios!

Below, I’ve uploaded my portfolio of Character Design for Animation art.  This class focused on designing line art (starting with sketches and finishing them as cleaned-up illustrations) all designed for use in animation.  For animation, this requires simplifying the human figure (and animals) into the fewest lines required to capture the character.  The more lines a character has, the more difficult and time-consuming it is to animate.  Styles range from simplified realism to the more “pushed” comic styles.  In this class we began by studying the design shorthand various master artists use in the industry, and in the end designed our own characters.

I plan to set time aside this summer to digitally color more of these, but for now, you’ll find an example of what I can do with colored pencil in the Aprhodite series.

I designed Aphrodite in Bruce Timm’s style below, his sensual pinups were great inspiration.  Notice the curves, her posture and gestures, the translucent gown, and the emphasis on her eyes.

Below is my series of Athena illustrations, also in Bruce Timm’s style. One of his famous projects was the Batman TV animated series and the Justice League.  His Wonder Woman design inspired me to draw Athena – he struck the perfect balance between feminine and masculine qualities that make Wonder Woman a powerful woman to be reckoned with. Notice the subtle but effective differences between Aphrodite and Athena that makes one voluptuous and the other an Amazon warrior.


Below is my age study in Colin Jack’s style.  He’s famous for more than his children’s books – he created a way to use angles and straight lines to describe children, who are traditionally drawn with curves.  I used his style to draw the same character across his lifespan from toddler, to child, adult, and elderly man.

Below, a series of Siamese cats drawn in styles varying from feature film (lower left) to simplified realism (upper left) to cartoon (middle) and finally anthropomorphic.  As the cat slid from less realistic to more stylized, I kept the elements that are essential to describing a siamese cat and the rest became more and more human.  I was influenced by Disney and Warner Brothers when designing these characters.

A character designer must be able to illustrate a character using a variety of facial expressions.  Below is a study of emotions and expressions in Bruce Timm’s style.

Full-figure characters in Colin Jack’s style.  I had seen the 2010 Alice in Wonderland in which Alice returns to Wonderland as a young woman and thought this would be a great opportunity to exercise Colin Jack’s style.

The exercise was to design a character from a story that had never been animated or featured in a film before and create two 5-point turnarounds, one sans clothes and one costumed.  It’s helpful to draw the character first nekid to develop the figure before “wrapping him” in clothing.  But notice how the addition of clothing helps define the shape and form of the character (particularly his legs)?  I decided to draw Bast from the Name of the Wind book by Patrick Rothfuss and was inspired by Sean “Cheeks” Galloway and his creative use of shapes.  The gestures and movement he captures in his illustrations would be perfect for Bast.

And finally sketches a life model (posing for 2-5 minutes at a time) who I turned him into characters on the spot.  Somehow it’s the shortest poses that have the most dynamic feel, maybe it’s the feeling of urgency!