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;
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.
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!