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Characterisation in 2d animation

Characterisation in 2d animation

The problem that animation faces is that it is an overtly false diegetic type. The viewer is presented with a constructed certainty of drawings and paintings, which might represent the real world, but unlike photographic film, will not look like it. The task subsequently is to create individuals that may believably inhabit their unique diegetic reality. Animators have got strived to locate a way to resolve this problem through their character style and an awareness of how to deliver narrative details through their people. This essay will illustrate the alternatives that animators have observed to create their audiences believe what’s put in front of these.

In 1914 Winsor McCay used the (self-imposed) challenge of making dinosaurs live once again via animation. The effect was Gertie the Dinosaur a semi-live act with McCay executing onstage with the projected film behind him. Gertie herself was certainly an animated projection and make her believable she had to have a solid individual character.

McCay achieved this through his individual ‘interactions’ with the type of Gertie. He foretells her and asks her to execute methods, which she obliges to do. We are also drawn focus on the fact that she actually is thirsty and she drains a lake. The functionality would climax with her picking up McCay (as he exits the stage.) and bounding of the screen with him on his back again.

Through this series of call and response between the live action McCay and the animated Gertie, McCay creates the illusion of human understanding within the animated dinosaur. There is also at one level a glance of glee in her face after a fight picture when she throws the defeated mammoth right into a lake. Through the human being interaction and the computer animation McCay features anthropomorphically endowed the animated creature with human emotions: he has made her believable to the crowd by giving her recognizable human characteristics.

In his publication ‘Understanding Computer animation’ Paul Wells recognizes that the consumption of attributing animated animal individuals anthropomorphic characteristics has turned into a mainstay of character expansion. It will be discussed in further aspect later on in the essay.

The basic principles of characterization as a narrative strategy in animation have already been summed up by Wells. The type could be understood through its costume or construction, it’s ability to gesture or approach and the associative areas of its design. It is pertinent at this stage to discuss these areas cover letter for proposal of character design.

Regardless of if an animated figure can be an animal or people, animators rarely try to completely reproduce natural web form. As such the situation is they are presenting visitors with unnatural searching beings. If the viewer is usually to simply accept the characters proven before them, the individuals themselves must be presented as believable. For this reason animators rely on exaggeration of specific features to advise certain personality types. Halas and Manvelldescribe this within their book ‘the technique of film Animation. Characterization is attained by the distortion of designs and forms big eye, big mouth, big nasal area, large head small body etc.

What is usually stressed by animators may be the gesturing areas of the body, particularly the top features of the top. The eyes, nose, oral cavity and ears are essential in creating the illusion of individual emotion. You will find a general rule of thumb in relation to which shapes go with what characters: kind gentle character types tend to have soft rounded faces with extensive smiles and large rounded eye. Porky Pig is an excellent example of this principle. He’s the embodiment of the jolly excessive fat man. Villains however are much more angular. They often have a rather sharp chin and small eye and a crooked oral cavity that somehow lends itself to a wicked smile. They are generally presented as grotesque, much like the Evil queen in Snow White and her incarnation as the old crone. These generalizations serve as visual shorthand for the viewer; they optimise the influence of the character through economy and allow the viewer to make connections and process narrative information regarding the characters quicker. In the words of Wells, animation manages to compress a high degree of narrative information into a limited period of time through an activity of condensation.

This approach to economy and condensation was born out of functionality as much as anything. Partially it was due to the fact that cartoons are usually very short. As such narrative facts needs to be delivered with great quickness. Also when television started to be the dominant domain of the animated brief, characters had to be easily recognizable on the tiny screen. It’s much easier to do that by recognizing one or two strong individual characteristics than several small ones. Most importantly however the simpler a character is to pull, the quicker they become to reproduce. They depend on caricature and stereotype to relay narrative facts quickly and succinctly.

Halas and Manvell continue in their book to describe the visual design of Tom and Jerry in conditions of the aesthetic ideas of animation: The drawing and coloring include an economy and a visual impression that matches the mind-boggling vitality and occasionally the crudity of the action and characterization. This highlights the value of economy. Extraneous specifics can confuse the problem and detract from general characterization. What’s needed is a just a handful of well-chosen details.

In 1917 Max Fleischer invented the rotoscope. This device allowed animators to successfully mimic natural movement by blowing up even now frames of picture taking and allowing the animator to duplicate them just. Max and his brother Dave were both inspired by the work of Winsor McCay and between them had been instrumental in the production of both technological and character expansion of animation.

The rotoscope worked well by utilizing a drawing table with a frosted cup center. One frame of photography at the same time was shone onto the cup and the photograph was traced. It provided an accurate reference of motion and articulation to ensure that on screen movement could be replicated with far more fluidity. Using this method animators were able to draw more complicated figures in a believable and convincing approach.

Richard Willams has drawn examples of some of these more complicated characters in his book ‘the animators survival package.’ The examples that will be discussed here are the representation of the adolescent and old female as drawn by Williams. By firmly taking two types of opposing but similar characters, we can observe how the rotoscope paved just how for the creation of characterization in animation.

The young girl is characterized largely be her curvaceous shape. She has a solid convex curve along her rear and an hourglass number that extenuates her breast, slim waistline and shoulders. She stands upright and tall. She also offers sleek long hip and legs and flowing long hair. This form communicates her youth vitality and energy. The old woman by contrast has a very much rounder concave curve of the trunk, which seems to curve round into her physique giving her a curved torso. The breast can be molded into this curved torso that desexualizes her. Her hair can be shorter. She is hunched onward making her look exhausted and weary. The lower body is also curved and she wears a long skirt to cover the legs. On the other hand we see only the ankles and ft of the old woman and she actually is given short dumpy legs.

These two examples show the importance of form and form in delivering character details. These two numbers could signify the same personality at different ages however the presentation of contact form provides us with completely different info on the characters.

Williams also stresses the importance of activity to illustrate identity. As explained earlier this art of animation was drastically enhanced by the expansion of the rotoscope. The way a character moves can be fluid and clean which would recommend grace or elegance. Additionally movements can be jerky or plodding, that will in turn infer attributes of weakness or foolishness. Again he uses good examples to discuss and illustrate the main differences between the masculine and feminine walk.

The feminine walk is certainly smooth and chic. She keeps her hip and legs close together and as such the footsteps run straight along the type of action. Subsequently there is very

little along body activity. The feminine walk appears to glide along the line of action. The masculine walk however is a lot more aggressive. Your toes are kept well aside, far out from the line of action. The masculine walk is usually a full on stride, which makes the type as wide as possible. There is much more up and down movement on the body. This makes the walk much more kinetic and at the same time suggests power and strength.

Similar to the generalizations about character contact form, these conventions could be subverted to comic effect or even to deliver more information. For example a Masculine walk may become a drunken walk if your feet are allowed to cross the line of action. (My spouse and i.E. if the right foot passes over the center of your body and steps straight down on the left and vice versa.) Through these examples it really is clear that just how that the animator will make the character move is vital to characterization.

The Fleischer brothers had been also responsible for two of the most beloved cartoon heroes of the thirties: Popeye and Betty Boop. These two characters happen to be archetypes of hero and heroine personality traits. It appears only fitting therefore to discuss how these characters are so unique, and the methods used to provide them such strong person identities.

Popeye originally made an appearance in Comic strip form some years before his display screen debut in 1933. During this time period of American economic melancholy he was a figure of aspiration for the workingman. As a navy person he had a job that stood for American durability and pride; this also made him stick out as the champion of the just simply causes. As such he was the embodiment of the good everyman in circumstances of hardship.

He is identified as a sailor by the uniform that he wears with style and pride. He embodies the macho sailor stereotype by striding along with a sailor’s walk, feet aside rocking from side to side. He also has the iconic tattoo of an anchor on his arm; this marks him out as a guy who figuratively wears his heart on his sleeve. His appearance is defined by the exaggeration of his muscle tissue; importantly however Popeye’s durability comes from eating spinach. Although he’s always solid and muscular, it is not until he eats the spinach that he gets the strength had a need to defeat Bluto. After he offers eaten the spinach his forearms will be inflated to appear three times the normal size. As Wells points out Popeye’s masculinity can be predominantly identified by the association between his unique organic expansion and the effectiveness of hard metal or machines. As his muscle tissue grow they possibly transform shape into anvils or air brakes or we find moving images of locomotives or battleships on his kind arms. Popeye’s physical strength therefore is certainly amplified by the imagery but he also connected with American mechanical or armed service strength.

Popeye can be remembered for his fights with Bluto but the important thing to bear in mind is that he is not really a troublemaker and is usually a very amiable character. He has the characteristic rounded deal with of the jolly unwanted fat man. He walks around with a smile making jokes to himself and becoming generally packed with life. There is also his tone of voice that characterizes him as a salty previous piece of seaweed. It is only when his girlfriend ESSENTIAL OLIVE OIL is put in jeopardy that he is called into fight; therefore he is characterized as a rescuer rather than a guy of violence.

Betty Boop first appeared in 1930 in the cartoon Dizzy Meals. Her Face and body system defined her femininity; she’s a sizable head with huge childish doe eye and full reddish colored lips. She also has the normal hourglass figure with a full bust that shows of a lot of cleavage. She was also a dancer and her motion and walk had been characterized primarily by the feminine swing of the hips. Following the first cartoon her skirts received smaller and more compact and she became a lot more overtly sexualized. She was an embodiment of femininity – or at least the male fantasy of femininity. The blend of sexual fee and childlike innocence that arrived through typically from her eye and her distinctive voice disturbed the censors. Her raunchiness was toned down following the Hayes code of 1934.

Now that the advancement of individual characterization has been addressed; it is important at this stage to addresses the purpose of anthropomorphism once again. The rise and victory of the animation of Walt Disney, Chuck Jones and Tex Avery are prime examples of how the lending of human attributes to animals and vice versa has created some of the have to vivid and enduring icons of computer animation. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck et al have become such fixed pictures in the favorite psyche that it is important to know very well what made these characters consequently memorable.

When coping with animals we must remember the association that people curently have with those particular beasts. Any given animal could have a mythology and literary custom that comes with it; by being away of these traditions animators have been able to associate these historical traditions with their very own creations. For example foxes happen to be sly and cunning; sharks are ferocious and unforgiving; horse and lions are heroic and noble creatures both ferocious yet majestic. When an animator is certainly devising a personality they have a tendency to marry the preconceived ideas that people have about a particular beast with the characteristics they really want for their character. This is exactly what wells telephone calls ‘associative relations’ and opens the kind of animation right into a narrative dialectic that will require an extra-textual understanding on behalf of the viewer.

A good exemplory case of how the theory of associative relations works would be Kaa from The Jungle E book. The snake includes a literary history that goes back to the report of Adam and Eve. It was the seductive yet untrustworthy snake that facilitated mans fall from paradise. The snake is normally sly; professing friendship but always has his unique agenda. The snake glides along the flow in a smooth liquid motion, which is at once deadly and seductive. Kaa is definitely attributed with these qualities through legend and association. That is additionally illustrated by his ability of hypnotism, which can be of training a human self-discipline. He foretells Mowgli and soothes him to rest with very soft words and hypnosis so that you can eat him. In working with associations that are consequently deeply rooted in the common psyche the heroes themselves become quickly memorable.

Animal characteristics can be applied to human characters. Heroes are often found riding horses; the equine itself is usually a creature of nobility and heroism; and the traditions of the hero on equine back is the one which provides permeated every folklore around the globe. The human accordingly basks in the reflective glory of its animal companion. The ultimate way to summarize the utilization of anthropomorphism in characterization is certainly to state that the human in the pet identifies the human figure within. In turn the pet in the individual illustrates and enriches the type of the human.

Animators make artificial worlds and diegetic domains for character types to inhabit. As stated at the outset of this essay the problem is definitely that the animated globe we are presented with is so overtly fake that it’s a challenge to make the character types believable. Animators exploit the fantasy factor of their job; they draw focus on the fact that people are presented with conversing pigs and indestructible heroes through comic exaggeration of their skills and their follies. On the other hand rhetorical analysis examples what Animators do manage to do; is place enough natural movements and recognizable human being emotion to their creations that we except them totally as real believable characters within their own right.


Bordwell and Thompson. (2001) Film Art: An Introduction, New York: McGraw Hill.

Canemaker, J. (ed.) (1988) Storytelling in Computer animation: The Artwork of the Animated Impression Vol. 2, Los Angeles: AFI.

Griffin, H. (2001) The Animators guide to 2D Computer Animation, Oxford: Focal Press,

Halas, J and Manvell, R. (1968) The Approach of Film Computer animation, Norwich: Focal press Small.

Wells, P. (1998) Understanding Animation, NY: Routledge.

Williams, R. (2001) The Animators Survival Kit, NY: Faber and Faber.


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