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Character Design Tendencies

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What character design style do you prefer?  

21 members have voted

  1. 1. Which is it?

    • Western
    • Eastern
    • I like both equally

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So, it's not as though I hadn't observed this before, but I was thinking about it again and it occurred to me that it might be interesting to make a topic about it here and see what people think about it.

Since you are probably wondering what exactly it is I had observed before, it's certainly high time I explained it:

It's pretty obvious to anyone who sees a number of characters from each whilst being aware of their land of origin, but Eastern and Western cultures seem to have very different tendencies when it comes to the sorts of designs their characters end up with. Before I begin, do note that these are tendencies, not absolutes, and there are obviously exceptions to them.

Western-designed characters usually have more muscular, physically-powerful appearances, as well as generally more mature looks including high likelihoods of facial hair or stubble on male characters' faces. The art styles also tend to have a grittier, more realistic slant, using more subdued colors, in more serious stories. Character ages tend to be higher, (young adult~middle-aged seems to be the common range) and the protagonists tend to be more stoic and "manly". Cartoonish art styles in the West are usually more clumsy- or chunky-looking, stylistically, along with a tendency to have goofy faces and proportions along with brighter color palettes, although it seems to be that in many instances colors are still fairly realistic choices for the subjects they're applied to.

Eastern-designed characters tend to lean more towards more elegant, cleaner-looking designs. The males tend to be more feminine and have lighter builds, musculature isn't quite as pronounced, and the colors are often brighter and more varied, usually with far less attention to what would be realistic in their application. The outfits and hairstyles range from realistic to downright silly and everywhere in between, and the level of detail in these designs tends to be lower, at least when it comes to the characters themselves. (There are some truly ridiculous outfits out there) Character ages tend to be lower, (teenager~young adult is the general range) and the characters tend to be a bit less stoic and sure of themselves.

The thing is, while I wouldn't really classify myself as a "weeb" (especially not with shadowofchaos setting the bar), I do prefer Eastern character design styles to Western ones; by a pretty large margin, in fact. I generally find more appeal, visually, in characters with softer, more graceful and "cuter" designs with more colorful palettes as opposed to the West's grittier, "manlier" characters with harder, less colorful designs. Perhaps it's because I find them to look a good deal more vibrant and have a more welcoming feel to them, whereas many Western designs look darker and more intimidating by comparison. I hope to create my own video games someday (and with RPG Maker VX Ace, that day may not be so far off), and I fully intend to design my characters in the fashion that most appeals to me, despite that it may cost me some of my non-weeb audience.

So, how do you feel about this whole thing? Do you tend prefer Western or Eastern types of characters, and why? I am interested to hear your answers, as I've been sort of curious for a while now as to why people prefer one style over the other.

Edited by Starlight36
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Well, The Eastern authors was influenced by Disney

Abd now, a lot of Westerner are influenced by the Eastern Design.

So, I think the future authors will mix the two influence.

For example, you should try to look at the Spanish Jose Luis Munuera, who draw inspiration in the Manga Style, especially with really lean and dynamic drawings.

They may also be a difference between Comics and the French-Belgian authors. Especially for those who don't use "realistic" graphics (the famous "Big Noses").

And you have the famous "Ligne Claire" popularized by Hergé in Tintin.

About RPG Maker VX. I'm not really a fan of the design, but it have a Face Maker which is pretty cool.

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It's all good by me, depends so heavily on individual execution.


A lot of my favorite designs are each themselves a kind of outlier relative to their culture.

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I think it comes down to which style fits the story best. I couldn't imagine a vibrate, delicate, feminine-man anime version of a video game about World War I. Likewise, I don't think Pokemon would work if you "grittied" it up. Honestly, you should consider using whichever style brings your game to life. Also, stereotypes have a lot to do with it. A certain character will need to physically look the part. Some character types lend themselves to an anime style, some don't. It all depends on who is in your story and what their role is.

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I like both pretty much, I actually sort of lean towards Eastern design, but I really couldn't imagine Batman in an anime art style. A good way to compare is the West and East Transformers, where the western transformers have usually a simple design, and although brightly coloured, actually resemble their vehicle form whether in robot or transport mode, the Eastern style transformers take obvious influences from Japanese mecha, and a lot of designs lose entire resemblance to their vehicle form at all (see Unicron trilogy Omega Supreme.) But in other cases I quite enjoy Eastern design, it has quite more of a fantasy feel to it.

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Nowadays with globalization I feel like there isn't so much of a divide in design characteristics as before. With shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender produced primarily for a North American audience, and Panty and Stocking as a vulgar Japanese homage to American children cartoons, you can see the cross influence. Especially for shows aimed at preteens, the Eastern graphical influence really picked up over the 90's because of an interest in dubbed anime by Western audiences. Now we have shows like Slugterra, which is CG but still carries a lot of design elements that are reminiscent of Japanese Weekly Jump cartoons and their ilk. The new TMNT is designed to have more anime-like action scenes with a lot of flash and flair. There's also Ben 10 which has a lot of popularity with the 6-12 crowd. I think the cross polination hasn't really touched Japan as much since the days of Disney influencing Osamu Tezuka and other influencial artists, but as far as game design is concerned, Square Enix and Capcom have seen Western design ideals for games as promising new frontier to break out of Japanese market stagnation. Skyrim, Call of Duty, and other Western games are actually pretty popular in Japan contrary to the cute material (moe) content that has a lot of internet exposure. Disney and Pixar movies still have a lot of marketing power in Japan and China; Pixar grosses just as much as Studio Ghibli, if not more. And Disney princesses are a hot commodity alongside Hello Kitty.

There's definitely a difference in styles and a lot of cartoon studios in North America will look down on you if you only draw anime, but there's no doubt that anime has leaked into the North American mainstream and the streamlined style is immensely popular with grade school kids. I grew up interested in anime and so have many others, so I can see the future of cartoons turning towards elegant, but limited, anime-style action. I don't think anime will change too much in Japan if only because of their production methods and tight budgets, but their games are trending towards a Western aesthetic as more and more Japanese companies look to appeal to a more active market.

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What integ said basically.

While I do have a soft spot for muscularity, honestly I don't give a fuck as long as they're designed well. Like previous posts, certain design types fit certain works better and whatever fits works. I care a lot more about things being anatomically 1) correct or 2) well-stylised enough that the difference in the art's proportions to correct anatomy doesn't look jarring than anything, and both styles have their share of great works and shit works.

I like to have a variation in build types in my own designs because everyone having the same build is boring as fuck, though I think I lean towards western for builds (it takes extra effort for me to not draw a defined deltoid since i'm a muscle nut) and eastern for clothing designs. I also prefer more mature characters.

Edited by Thor Odinson
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