Creative Futures

Designing the Boy Character

During the week, the team decided to divide into two sections – the environment designers and the character designers. Shelley and Rachel were going to focus on the exterior and interior designs, whilst Katie and I explored the design of the bear and boy character further through design.

Luckily, during our storyboard process, the team was able to agree on a basic shape and gender for our protagonist – a young boy, with an oversized head and skinny limbs. This was the benchmark that was provided for me so that I could develop the concept into a fully rendered design.


(E.1 – Shown above, the basic shape and gender the team approved – as drawn by Katie)

I began by incorporating the generic shape into some designs, exploring the age, height, weight and proportion of the boy character. The key elements which I wanted to communicate with the audience were innocence, naivety, and curiosity. In order to understand how to illustrate particular characteristics through design, I spent time researching character construction and aesthetics, which can be found in this post.


(E.2 – Shown above, the exploration of the boy design)

Once I presented the image above to the team, I received some feedback to guide the design further. Designs one, four and five made the boy appear older than our intended age bracket of five to six years old, so they were immediately dismissed. Design two and three were most popular within the team, so I began my next stage of design based on their feedback.


(E.3 – Shown above, the next stage of the boy design process) 

Drawn above is the variations in clothing design, drawn upon a base shape of the boy that incorporated the skinny limbs of the previous design three, with influence from hip and tummy area of design two.

The secondary design stage focused on hair and clothing styles for the boy. With the distinction of age being between five and six, the challenge was to create outfits that would be viewed as young and carefree, with some element of parental influence over the garment choices. The shape of the hair was also explored, ranging from neat and maintained to tight ringlet curls and uncombed. Upon presenting the designs to the rest of the team, they provided me with feedback about which aspects of the design that they liked, and which aspects that they did not prefer.


(E. 4 – Shown above, the four contending designs) 

Above is the outfits created during the tertiary stage of the design process. I had combined the different elements that team preferences leant towards, keeping in mind the environments that the boy will be featured within the animation – a wide open forest at dusk, and a comfortable therapy office. The outfit had to work with both – those considerations, plus the feedback from the team, resulted in the concept designs featured in example four.

Katie and I held strong preference towards the first outfit, whereas Rachel deemed it to be too mature to be a childs’ outfit (despite the rational that we supported, stating that it would be a parent that would dress him) – thus, persuading us to go for a variation of design number two, with the oversized jumper and large boots. However, the colour scheme that I had chosen felt too mature of a palette for the boy, so she decided to do a paint over of that outfit to explore alternative colour combinations.



(E. 5 – Shown above, on the top is the colour variations, on the bottom is the two favourites superimposed upon inspiration pieces)

 Rachel painted many variations of the colour schemes for the boy – from which we narrowed it down to two possible contenders. However, as a team we were unable to come to a unanimous decision between the orange and green jumper and, therefore sought feedback from our peers. Rachel superimposed the two options upon some scenery stills that had been gathered during the inspiration process before we proceeded to approach our classmates for some comments about the chosen colour schemes.


(E. 6 – Shown above, the team going around the class to request some feedback)

Ultimately, the green jumper triumphed over the orange by just a few votes. However, during our presentation that had occurred the following day, the feedback from Conann was that it was too childlike and that he should look like his mother had dressed him – which is the rationale that Katie and I had stated earlier in the week. Once Rachel accepted the feedback, we were delighted to revert to our previous choice of the first design, which is featured below.


(E. 7 – Shown above, the finalised concept for the boy design) 

The process of design was a mostly enjoyable experience. I feel that I was able to explore my design capabilities, and identified areas within my work where I felt that I was lacking – researching design principals and investigating colour associations gave the concepts strength and reason, increasing my artistic knowledge and execution.

Incorporating the feedback from both team and classmates at times proved to be challenging, as it was hard to stand and let my work be criticised without taking their comments to heart. However, I identified that my confidence levels in my work had increased as a result of my research, as there was a specific reason behind the decisions that I had made during the design process. Whilst the confidence is not at a level that I would be content with quite yet, but I feel that the self-reliance I have demonstrated during this process has really enabled the design to achieve a greater level of understanding and conscious thought.


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