Appeal is the visual quality that makes characters (and objects) attractive, interesting, stimulating. It's not restricted to beauty and goodness, though. A monster or a villain can and should also be appealing to the audience.
Things that are uninteresting have their space, but are only “things”, without personality. They don't capture interest, viewers don't care about what will happen to them. If the heroes have no appeal, who will waste time watching their adventure? And if the villains are not appealing, things are not much better, because scenes devoted to them in the film become bothersome. They must have intensity, interesting personalities – humor is commonly used – they must add to the richness of the story.
For deeper, more envolving stories where continuity is a key aspect, good character development (personality) and somehow impressive visuals are very important. A good production depends on multiple areas: story, graphics, sounds, animation. Put together, the result can far exceed the sum of well done parts.
What is appeal in practice?
That's a complex matter, that goes way beyond our eyes' judgement. We've already mentioned that appeal is not restricted to beauty. But since that is one of the possible and most common ingredients, it's worth thinking about it. Here are a few hints:
- It's well known that we are attracted by symmetry and “good” proportions. In the base shape! Let's not forget that a natural pose should avoid twins. And our vision is idealized, perfect symmetry in practice doesn't look realistic, so well modelled characters can have some “noise” introduced in the geometry or texturing to make them more believable.
- Baby face
- Nature is wise, it makes babies look irresistibly cute to adults. We feel like taking care of them. And it seems that people that preserve some of this beauty in their grown-up faces are also appealing because of that. Well, it has worked well for Disney. And for mangas and animes that feature the superdeformed style.
- This is harder to define. It's almost as if it is something in the air, but from time to time a new or revamped style takes many people from a group by storm and defines what is trendy. This happens with clothes, music, visuals, etc. and in some cases, once the fever goes away, more than a few look back and think “oh, what was I thinking!?”. But anyway, while it lasts, it works very well, not to mention that some are better than others (or aren't them?).
- What's so fun about CG art? Probably the fact that it involves so many other areas. Design is one of them, for sure, so we recommend you study about Graphic Design, specially its principles and elements. A good design has to do with expressing ideas in their essence, cleanly and clearly. Sounds familiar? Complex and messy, hard to “read” designs lack appeal.
- Weak drawings, models, poses, animation, text, etc. also lack appeal, plain and simple. If your animation lacks intensity and attitude – passion -- why would anyone watch it?
The main body of Disney characters, stories and settings, though varied, have a well recognized "cutesy" style (foundation might be a more accurate term) developed during the Golden Age, influencing many other important artists in comics, animation and even art in general, like japanese mangaka Osamu Tezuka and studios like Pixar.
There is a pattern, but that should not be used to classify their work naively, there's great variation in works produced before, during and after their golden years, from drawing and painting styles to themes and material related to each production (toys, videogames, books and so on).
What's the best thing about animation? Anyone can do it. And many have done, following their own ideas about appeal, humor, exaggeration, stories worth being told...
In our references we will collect more suggestions, but here are a few other american cartoons that take different approaches quite well:
Summer of documentation 2006 -- Willian 07:20, 5 July 2006 (CEST)