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Ways to turn boring visuals into appealing animated scenes

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I always read and hear that your animation should be appealing, which means that the characters poses must be pleasing to view. But think about it, everything in your scene should be appealing. This includes lighting, colour, environments, props, effects and cinematography (composition, framing, camera moves and camera angles).

"Combine elements from several designs and then add something of your own."

Starting with a character's design, if you create one that is interesting to look at, then you have won half the battle in creating animation that is entertaining, because people will want to look at your character even before they are moving. I find that students usually do not put enough thought into their character's design. Create something that is instantly recognizable for what and who the character is. How do you do this? If you want to learn about something and be great at it, then study everything that has been done previously in that field. Study the character designs of successful and unsuccessful animated films, computer games, television shows, and commercials. Then study character designs from other mediums, such as comic strips, comic books, toys, plays, live action films, posters, paintings, advertisements and sculpture. Learn what works and what doesn't work so that you do not make the same mistakes that others have made. Study real anatomy and apply simplified structure to your designs so that they have believability. There are different shapes of heads and bodies, and proportions that describe different type of characters. Use these guides to make easily identifiable characters. A quick method of designing an appealing character is to combine elements from several designs and then add something of your own. The audience always looks at a character's head and eyes first, so exaggerate the size of the eyes and pupils. Make them big, so that they are more easily seen. If the pupils are too small, then the audience cannot see where your character is looking. This confuses the audience and they will lose interest in the performance. 

"Be creative and build something that we have not seen before."

The second thing that we all look at in animation are a character's hands. Most students make them too small, like a doll's hands that will never move. Again make them big and stylize them to reflect the personality of your character. Are they thick and square to show strength or long and rectangular to show elegance and refinement? Making the hands big will allow the audience to more easily see hand gestures, actions and poses. Don't make the arms to short either. They should reach half way between the hips and knees. That way your character does not have to bend over constantly to pick up objects on a table, or they can do a simple action such as scratching their head.

Make your set attractive. Remember that you are working in 3 dimensions. Try to have the elements of your set not only in the background, but also the mid-ground and the foreground to give it depth. Use an enticing style to design and model your environment. A lot of the time I see students building environments with straight lines at right angles and hard 90 degree edges. This causes everything to look brand new, as if they were just built. Put some extra effort in and give your background a lived-in aged look, by tilting, bending and warping everything a little. Get rid of the hard 90 degree edges by bevelling or softening the edges. Simplify and exaggerate your props, furniture, and nature so that they are easy to see and recognize.

Be creative and build something that we have not seen before. This will result in your work being more memorable. Studios hire students with demos that are great and memorable, not good and boring.


calvin leduc 70x70

I am a professional ex-Walt Disney Feature animation artist.
Have a look at my filmography at:

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