Wednesday, April 30, 2008

FV Character Silhouettes

My first experiment in cartoon silhouettes was a blast, and I've been surprised by how much attention it's getting in the blogosphere. I even found blogs that picked up the image in Finnish, Portuguese, and Spanish, to name a few. So thanks, everyone! But this post is targeted at those of us within the FableVision bubble. I gathered up a bunch of our recent characters and assembled this massive group silhouette. Click on the image above to see a larger version. Sorry if I left any out, but I think this is a good sampling of FV-designed characters from recent projects. I've broken the rule again about posting client work on the blog, but my excuse is that they are "disguised" in shadow. Some are more obscure than others. If you don't know the characters, at least take a moment to look at their shapes and forms.

You should notice a couple of things. Some characters look very different from one another, while others very look similar. There is overall less variation when you compare it to the Cartoon Silhouettes image. I see a lot of thin characters that are about the same height, baseball hats, big heads, skinny necks. But we do a lot of people, so that's not surprising. But we can strive for more variation. Animals and creatures are at an advantange (which is why some of the most iconic cartoon characters are not human). Strong poses help make a silhouette more prominent, and a lot of the time we design are characters standing straight up and down. So think about personality when you draw your characters.

I have the cheat sheet if anyone wants to see it.
(But it will come at a price...)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cartoon Silhouettes

I have a fun game for everyone to play that could also be educational. If you click on the above image, you'll find silhouettes of 34 different cartoon characters. Even at the small size all of them should be recognizable (which in itself is an amazing feat---for the characters, and your BRAIN!). I've talked a little about character design on this blog. I wanted to test the theory that a memorable character, one that is entirely unique and original, will have some semblance of strong design. Which boils down to having contrasting shapes and forms, which in turn should reduce to a distinctive silhouette. This isn't perfectly scientific, because pop culture presence, humor, voice, and writing all play a role in constructing the perfect character. But I'm speaking purely visually.

I'm going to guess that you'll be able to identify most of them (if not all of them---depending on your familiarity with the characters). You should notice right off the bat which one's pop out the most to you. Some are recognizable, but have much more complicated shapes. Notice the variety! Especially in the somewhat limited cartoon genre.

Notice the pairs of characters I've included. If you're designing a duo---design them together. See how the negative space around the pose is crucial to making them look active and dynamic—how each character fits into the other.

Here's the take away. When you're designing a character, pay attention to the form...think about positive and negative space, and how it would translate to a silhouette. The language of cartooning lends itself to this so well, which is why so many characters become icons. It might be fun to do a quick line-up of some of our FableVision characters, to see how they stand up to the silhouette test.

Hope this was fun! Let me know your thoughts :)

UPDATE (6-23-08) I just found a great post over at Aviary by Meowza who offers a great analysis on the importance of silhouette and foundation in character design. Definitely go check it out!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Colorful Illustrations 93°C - Please DO NOT buy this book!

A couple of you already know, but I got an email from the Darren Di Lieto of the Little Chimp Society this morning:

"I just wanted to bring to the attention to those who don't that recently the LCS was plagiarized (images and LCS interviews) and published as a book called Colorful Illustrations 93 degrees C! This was done without the knowledge or permission of me or anyone involved."

The Little Chimp Society is an online illustration portal where young artists are interviewed and featured for the amazing work they are doing. Apparently, a publisher from either Spain or Japan (the details are fuzzy) published the entire contents of the website in a book and is charging $100 for it. Imagine someone going to your website, pulling down all you artwork without your permission, and publishing it for a profit. I especially feel bad for Darren, who has spent the greater part of the the last three years growing an amazing web community. But a lot of artists are getting completely ripped off here. This is a major blow to the art blogging community.

I'm trying to do my part by spreading the word. These people need to be held accountable.

This is what Darren has to say on his blog, where he links to photos of the book. So many stolen illustrations! Luc Latulippe is one of the 93 artists whose work was plagiarized, and he also has some valuable thoughts on the issue.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Righty or Lefty?

Which way is the figure turning for you?
Clockwise or counter-clockwise? Apparently, if you see it clockwise, you're right-brained (and vice versa). I can only see it going counter-clockwise...hmmm....

From the Herald Sun:
Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.


uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

One of the music sites I frequent, Pitchfork, recently launched a music video site called It kind of harkens back to the days of MTV. Admittedly "hipster" music (I prefer indie), you might find some artists and videos you'd really like. Plus, it looks like they'll be playing some music documentaries. So take it for a spin. This might be a great model for FVTV (we should even consider nabbing the domain).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Vintage Logos

A huge collection of vintage logos.
GREAT examples of logo and id design.
Thanks, Samantha!