1st Edition

Composition for the 21st ½ century, Vol 2 Characters in Animation

By Thomas Paul Thesen Copyright 2022
    362 Pages
    by CRC Press

    362 Pages
    by CRC Press

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    Composition for the 21st ½ century: Characters in Animation focuses on characters and their application in animation, illustration, games, and films. It covers various technical aspects of character design and their artistic applicability. This book analyzes in detail the purpose of these character design features and provides examples of their impact. Emphasis is placed on each aspect and how it affects and is affected by the narrative. Additionally, complex case studies that assist in explaining the successful use of these concepts in films and animation are included. This book is geared toward students; however, it is also reader-friendly for professionals. Composition for the 21st ½ century: Characters in Animation’s goal is to comprehend composition as an artistic tool and as a significant part of the professional character design process.

    Key Features:

    • Teaches the complexity of composition in the professional character design process.
    • Closes the gap between praxis and theory in character design.
    • Explains how to produce believable characters that express their narrative in the visuals.
    • Discusses the need for artistic reasoning in character design.
    • Presents case studies to assist readers in understanding the process as they progress through this book.

    Author Bio:

    For more than twenty years, Thomas Paul Thesen’s career has been about learning and understanding the complexities of art, animation, and image-making, both in still illustration, drawing, and photography and in the moving image. He has worked in the industry as a character animator and visual development artist for companies such as Pixar, DreamWorks, and Sprite Animation Studios. He has also taught for many years at universities across Asia, the USA, and the UK.

    Chapter 1: The Job of a Character Designer

    Chapter 2: Visual Development Process

    Chapter 3: Storytelling and Drama

    Chapter 4: Personality

    Chapter 5: Relationships

    Chapter 6: Emotions

    Chapter 7: Message or Theme

    Chapter 8: Research and Concept

    Chapter 9: Design Scale

    Chapter 10: Pose and Communication

    Chapter 11: Thumbnail Drawings

    Chapter 12: Shape

    Chapter 13: Form

    Chapter 14: Line of Action

    Chapter 15: Anatomy

    Chapter 16: Weight

    Chapter 17: Tension and Compression

    Chapter 18: Contrapposto

    Chapter 19: Movement and Twist

    Chapter 20: Pivot Point

    Chapter 21: Balance and Tension

    Chapter 22: Silhouette

    Chapter 23: Perspective and Dimensionality

    Chapter 24: Foreshortening

    Chapter 25: Tangents

    Chapter 26: Light and Shadow

    Chapter 27: Vectors and Directions

    Chapter 28: Facial Expressions

    Chapter 29: Extroverted and Introverted Pose

    Chapter 30: Negative and Positive Space

    Chapter 31: Body Ratio

    Chapter 32: Contrast

    Chapter 33: Texture

    Chapter 34: Line Quality

    Chapter 35: Simplicity and Readability

    Chapter 36: Believability

    Chapter 37: Color Design

    Chapter 38: Clothing Design, Folds, and Fabrics

    Chapter 39: Style Pass

    Chapter 40: Character / Model Sheets

    Chapter 41: Refinement


    Thomas Paul Thesen has spent six years in studying illustration at the University for Applied Sciences in Hamburg, Germany and then got his Master of Fine Arts in Experimental Animation at CalArts in California. During his studies he was approached by Pixar Animation Studios to do inspirational character development on their feature film Ratatouille. After getting his MFA from CalArts he started to work as a character-animator for Dreamworks Animation and worked on the feature Shrek 2. He always wanted to go into visual development and switched departments to work on features like Bee-Movie or Puss-in-Boots. Since then he has been focusing on visual development, character design and illustration in his professional and freelance work. For eight years now he has been teaching animation for universities like NYU Tisch Asia, Hongik University or Hallam University and others.