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Learn how the role of shape psychology plays into designing a character.
Welcome to the Toon Boom Harmony 12 video tutorial series. My name is Mike Wiesmeier, I'm a Toon Boom software instructor and have 24 years experience in animation, production and teaching, including working on 9 feature films for the Walt Disney Studios. In this group of tutorials, we'll be talking about the drawing tools and their use in the process of designing a character.
And in this video, we'll be talking about the role that shape psychology plays in designing a character.
The two things that you want to experiment with in the brainstorming stage are shape and proportion and the varying combinations that will affect how the viewer will perceive your character. Perception of a character's personality is greatly influenced by shape psychology. The three basic shapes of circle, rectangle and triangle or variations of those three shapes, and the way that you combine them creates this perception. Not so much the small details that you add to your character later. The psychology or effect of perception generally recognized to be connected to these shapes are circle or oval, considered to be friendly, non-threatening, maybe not so reliable because after all, it can roll away. The square or rectangle, which is stable but maybe a bit dull. And the triangular shape, which can be perceived as being mischievous, unpredictable and possibly dangerous.
We can think of a few examples. For example from Star Wars, the character R2-D2 is a combination of a rectangle and a half circle, so he is non-threatening and reliable. And in fact, he's the one who's always getting the others out of difficult situations. The character Darth Vader has repeating triangular shapes in his helmet, and when you see him in silhouette, he's basically a big triangle.
We can also think of an example from industrial design. For example the Volkswagen Beetle, one of the most popular cars of all time. If you think about its design, it's basically a half circle.
Part of why these characters are so memorable is because their simple shapes are so readable and thus communicate visually who they are in a way that is totally unknown on a conscious level to the audience or viewer. So we have this idea of shape to work with, and there are so many combinations of the three simple shapes to experiment with, and when you throw proportion into the mix, the possibilities really are endless.