Character Redesign Project

Children’s drawings always have an extra magic ingredient that you don’t always see in a practiced artist’s; they have a freedom that fades away through the years as you are taught ‘don’t draw that way, that’s not right,’ ‘that arm doesn’t go there,’ or ‘crocodiles don’t have wings.’ Because why shouldn’t they?

That’s why I loved doing this project! We were given children’s drawings and we redesigned them to make them suitable for animation, but whilst still keeping that magical quality. I chose ‘Bob, a 16 year old boy who is lazy and stays at home and dreams of inventions to make his life easier.’ I chose him because he seemed the most ‘boring’ character, so I wanted to try and show that he could be interesting, too! Here is the original design by Connor;

original design

I started by researching into other characters that had the same personality traits to see how they were represented. The first one that came to mind was Hiro Hamada from ‘Big Hero 6,’ a teenaged boy who is quite scruffy, but who is a great inventor. I looked at many more characters with similar characteristics, such as Victor from ‘Frankenweenie,’ Lewis from ‘Meet the Robinsons,’ and young Buddy from ‘The Incredibles.’ There were some characteristics that were repeated amongst these characters, such as a rounded face, gangly appearance, curious eyes, and messy hair…


After I started to get a feel for what the character might be like, I started to look at other character redesigns and what made them true to the original design whilst still being suitable for tv/film. In Oliver Jeffers’ book, ‘Lost and Found,’ the characters are simple and child-like to make them appealing to young children as well as easy to draw. This quality was replicated really well in the CG adaption, yet they characters were made more animatable, and given a wider range for expression.

lostnfoundlost nfound

I also looked at ‘Fantastic Mr Fox,’ and, although this is a stop motion film so the style is quite different to Quentin Blake’s illustrations, the puppets in the film still have a scratchy, messy and quirky quality to them. The same thing can also be said for the creatures in the film ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ in which, although the rest of the film is live-action, the Wild Things are played by actors in animatronic costumes that closely resemble the illustrations in the book, which gives them a quirky and original look, but a look that is still faithful to the original designs. Other redesigns that I found effective for my research were the Peanuts cartoon into the upcoming ‘Peanuts Movie,’ the illustrations of ‘Horrid Henry’ into the TV show, and the characters of the children’s book ‘Charlie and Lola’ into the TV programme.


I thought I might also have a look into characters that a constantly evolving and being redesigned through time. So mainly I thought of superheroes, such as Batman, who began life as a character in DC’s comic books, and has most recently starred in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ Trilogy as a live-action character. Yet, we still recognise him as Batman immediately, due to his costume; a bat-shaped cowl, the Batman logo on his chestplate, and a black cape, as well as his strong body figure and facial features. Even though his costume or the actor who has played his has changed slightly each time it has been reinvented, he is still instantly recognisable due to those key features.


So, from this research I learnt that to make a good redesign I need to do a few things properly; firstly, I need to make sure the character’s personality shows through in his looks, so I need to make him come across young and lazy, as well as a clever inventor. Also, I need to make sure that I redesign the character so it works for the animation in terms of movement and expression, but while still keeping the charm and originality of the child’s design. Finally, I need to make sure  I keep the defining features of the character, such as the rounded head, big ears and Nike outfit.

I’m really looking forward to redesigning Bob, and I hope I do Connor’s design justice!

06 Character Development

Storyboarding Project!

My first project is…COMPLETE! It included storyboarding an already existing advert, and creating our own storyboards for a segment of script from TMNT. It’s been really helpful, because storyboarding is something which I’ve always enjoyed, but not necessarily been that great at. I could never quite imagine which shot would look the best for a particular scene, and I really have got no excuse, given all the films I watch (or ‘research,’ just so I don’t feel as guilty). So this summer holiday I decided I would need to improve my storyboarding skills, so whenever I was ‘researching’ a film, I would draw little sketches of shots that caught my eye, so I could start to get the hang of it.

hannibal jawspotterstar wars

Here are some sketches from ‘Hannibal,’ ‘Jaws,’ ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,’ and ‘Star Wars; Return of the Jedi.’

This definitely helped me a lot to get a bit more of an eye for certain angles that make the action more dynamic or make it clear what is happening on screen.

I also learned a lot from reading some advice about thumbnailing by Glen Keane, who is the person who inspired me so much that I decided to specialise in 2D…so I will listen to every piece of advice he gives; even if it was advice on how to make the perfect beef stew, I would most probably follow it. He was writing about how, when storyboarding, you should think of poses to tell the story, and how each pose will lead onto the next pose. This helped a lot, especially for my TMNT storyboards, because I tried to make them more dramatic by using poses instead of just having them standing there, and it really helped me to understand what I was drawing, and it was much clearer what was supposed to be happening on-screen. Here are some of his thumbnails for ‘The Rescuers…’


As well as looking at storyboards themselves, I also looked at the works of one of my favourite author/illustrators, Brian Selznick. His books are a mixture of graphic novel and written word, because he wants you to fully experience the story, and he also wants to create the feeling that you’re watching a film. So this means that his illustrations are often set out like scenes in a film; they are very dynamic and tell the story instead of just showing you what a character looks like. His work helped me in making my final storyboards, as I was inspired by the compositions of his images, as well as the contrasting tones that can be achieved with just a pencil to create depth and make a subject stand out. Here is an illustration from his latest book, ‘The Marvels;’


AND FINALLY, I was incredibly inspired by the ‘Gorillaz’ music video, ‘Dare,’ which was shown to us in class, along with the whole animatic that came before it. It was great to see the process in which it was made, and how important it is to make sure the storyboards are clear and informative in order to make the finished product work properly. (Also, the artwork was amazing, and I’m dying to try out that style when I have some free time. I don’t even know how I haven’t seen their music videos before…)


And so hopefully, now that I have all this new knowledge floating around in my brain box, my quest to become better at storyboards will end well! I’ve really enjoyed this project, so I’m going to try and keep up the sketches while I’m ‘researching’ films.