Research- Character Design Inspiration

One of the main things that we’ve noticed about our designs is the large spectacles that we’ve incorporated- this is our iconography for Cassie’s Mom. The symbol of our character or the thing that makes her most recognisable. This is implied in a lot of character designs, from the white ring of Daffy Duck’s neck to the white gloved hands of Mickey Mouse.

We decided to have a look at some of the characters already designed out their with this look in mind.

Pixar had this little clip of how the character of ‘Ros’ from Monsters Inc came about. Ricky Nierva describes the process of character design that he normally goes through- he is read pieces of the script with a brief note of what the character looks like in the heads of the director. Nierva then goes and draws his own ideas based on these. They designs are then narrowed down, and further concepts are created. This, however, was not the case for Roz. Roz was designed and her character was immediately agreed upon. This was kind of like our Cassie’s Mom design- we all drew her roughly the same.

tumblr_o3jm7xwfkv1qmnsdao1_500                       Roy’s Concept Art for Roz. (, 2016).


Concept art from Mr Hublot. (Amidi, 2014).

I loved the concept art and overall character design for Mr Hublot. The Oscar nominated short was co-production directed by Laurent Witz and co-directed by Alexandre Espigares. With had this quite interesting quotation about the character design itself;

We worked a lot on the characters’ eyes, because that’s where the emotions come from. Mr. Hublot doesn’t have a mouth or eyebrows, his eyes were barely noticeable. That is why we had to adapt what would help us create this emotion (like the eyes and the glasses)… It was a real challenge for the animators. (Amidi, 2014).

This is crucial to our own animation- as we had been playing with the exclusion of features like the mouth in our own designs- simply due to the lack of skill (yet) of lip sync or movements.

The lighting test is evident of this emotion in eye movements- you can really see the curiosity of the character in the simple movements- such as the head titling.

I love the lighting in this test. The character, as you can see, literally only has a nose as features, the glasses giving the expressions. (YouTube, 2016).

Edna Mode was another character we looked at- not just because of her large circular frames, but also for her sassy character itself. I remember looking at some of the character designs for her before and loved them- both the glasses and cigarette seem to go hand in hand with her.

Her small stature is something we also want to look into- making the character of Cassie’s Mom larger than life, despite her clumsiness when crossing the room. This is quite reflective of Edna’s character. (Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 2016).

A bit of nostalgia for me- Madam Foster was a character from one of my favourite shows as a kid- Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Her sweet nature is very cute and her outfit is actually reflective of Frankie, another character in the show. I really like how her exaggerated pupils make her look innocent, matching with her frail body.

Sorry for the rather annoying video but it was the only one I could find with solely the character. I swear I am the Rabbit this semester- 100.5% done. (YouTube, 2016).

As you can see the actual body design is simple again- sticking to geometric shapes for the clothes and even the feet- it kind of reminds me of the PowerPuff Girls.

Another Cartoon Network classic- Dexter’s Lab.


Dexter’s giant glasses fix his character well- iconology of a scientist/stereotypical nerd character. His sharp nose and body shape also add to his more sarcastic, serious character, compared to that of his fun loving sister Dee-Dee.

I swear this is one of my favourite episodes. The utter nonsense I used to think was amazing, quality television when I was ten. (YouTube, 2016).

When I was drawing Cassie’s Mom for our original story boards etc I found that I was channeling the look of John Davis for his Garfield comics. Davis first published the Garfield comic on the 19th of June, 1978 in 41 U.S. Newspapers. Davis said he took the inspiration from many of the cats he meet as he grew up- combining them into one furry beast. Davis also said that the cat incorporated some of his own traits- “I love the good things in life – food, relaxing, TV, food. I do love lasagna, and just about any Italian food, especially pizza. On the other hand, I’m pretty driven and a hard worker, so in that way, I’m nothing like Garfield.” (, 2016).

The large eyes on all the characters is a significant identifier with his work (as seen in the strip below). I feel like the attitude of Garfield also reflects in Cassie’s Mom too.


Adaptation of design over the years- one trait that has stuck is the giant, heavy lidded eyes. (Pinterest, 2016).


One of the more recent comics. (, 2016).

Daria was a television show I was unfamiliar with, but was shown by Jordan. He claims the main character, Daria, is his spirit animal and I can see why.

The show, created for MTV by Glenn Eichler and Suzy Lewis, follows the life of Daria Morgondorffer, a smart, acerbic, and somewhat misanthropic teenage girl. It’s one of those shows that truly encapsulates the inner thoughts of everyday life- dealing with peoples stupid comments and situations that have easy answers, but people don’t follow on. It’s very fourth wall- I can imagine Daria staring out at the camera in several of the episodes I watched.

The character, once again, gives the same sort of personality traits that we see in Cassie’s Mom, which is quite a common theme.


The character herself has a trademark ‘resting bitch face,’ giving of the stereotypical teenage vibe that everything is too uncool for them. I really like the design in Daria herself. She seems to have channeled other characters, such a Velma from Scooby Doo.(, 2016).

Another character we kind of looked into- Velma Dinkley from Scooby Doo. The

References (2016). Pixar. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2016].

Amidi, A. (2014). ‘Mr. Hublot’: The Art of the Oscar-Nominated Shorts. [online] Cartoon Brew. Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2016].

YouTube. (2016). AMAZING MR HUBLOT! Animation test. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2016].

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. (2016). Concept Art, Edna Mode, The Incredibles, 2004. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2016].

YouTube. (2016). Foster’s Home Madame Foster theme. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2016].

YouTube. (2016). the omelette, the fromage and the dü. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2016]. (2016). An Interview with Jim Davis. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2016].

Pinterest. (2016). Garfield Comics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2016]. (2016). Daria Pictures #3771 Wallpapers | RetraMur. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Mar. 2016].



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