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6 Reasons Animators Need To Create Simple Cartoon Characters

ben marvazi 2020

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Why You Should Be Animating Simple Cartoon Characters

Animation is all about bringing stories to life, and the characters we create are at the heart of these stories. One smart approach for animators is focusing on simple cartoon characters. These characters might seem basic, but they're super powerful in the world of animation. 

Why? Because sometimes, less is more.

Simple cartoon characters are all about making a big impact with a few strokes. They're easy to remember and connect with people of all ages. This isn't just about drawing; it's about creating characters that stick in your mind and tell a story on their own.

a space suit collapsing to reveal a simple cartoon character of a blue bear

Cover GIF by ChasingCheese.eth via GIPHY

In this post, we're diving into six reasons animators need to create simple cartoon characters. We'll explore why going simple can be a game-changer, helping animators connect better with their audience and making their work process smoother. 

Whether you've been animating for years or just starting, understanding the value of simple cartoon characters can make a big difference in your work.

Reason 1: Enhances Viewer Relatability

One of the biggest strengths of simple cartoon characters is how relatable they can be. 

Think about it – when characters are designed with simplicity, they often reflect emotions and traits we see in ourselves or the people around us. This simplicity in design allows viewers of all ages to easily connect with the characters.

Characters like this don't have complex details that might distract or confuse the audience. Instead, their straightforward appearance makes it easier for viewers to see a bit of themselves in the characters. 

characters being showcased in a trailer style by Super Simple

GIF by Super Simple via GIPHY

This connection is key in storytelling. When viewers see characters they can relate to, they're more likely to follow their stories closely and feel a part of their animated world.

Moreover, simple designs can cross cultural boundaries. They are less likely to be tied to specific regions or trends, making them universally appealing. This is why many iconic simple cartoon characters have fans all over the world.

Reason 2: Streamlines the Animation Process

Another big plus of creating simple cartoon characters is how they make the animation process more efficient. 

When characters have uncomplicated designs, they are easier and quicker to draw. This means animators can produce scenes faster, which is especially helpful when working under tight deadlines or on projects with limited budgets.

a creepy purple character duplicating itself

GIF by Greg Gunn via GIPHY

This efficiency isn't just about speed. It also means consistency. With simpler designs, it's easier to keep characters looking the same from scene to scene.

This is super important in animation, where characters need to look consistent throughout a story. Complex designs can change slightly with different angles or movements, but simple characters keep their integrity, making an animator's job much smoother.

Also, simple cartoon characters can be a lifesaver for beginner animators or small studios. They allow these animators to create high-quality content without needing a large team or extensive resources.

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Reason 3: Encourages Creativity Within Constraints

The saying "less is more" really applies when it comes to designing simple cartoon characters. 

Working with a simpler design can actually boost creativity. When animators are limited in the details they can use, they're pushed to think more creatively about how to express a character's personality and story.

This challenge of simplicity forces animators to focus on what's truly important. Instead of getting caught up in intricate details, they have to think about how to use basic shapes and colors to convey emotions and characteristics. This often leads to more unique and memorable characters.

a montage of animated walking shapes

GIF by Zublime via GIPHY

It's like solving a puzzle – figuring out how to tell as much as possible with as little as possible. This approach can lead to some really innovative designs. Simple cartoon characters created this way stand out because they're clear and impactful, even in their simplicity.

By embracing these constraints, animators can discover new ways of expressing ideas and telling stories. 

Reason 4: Ensures Consistency Across Episodes

For animators working on series or recurring projects, maintaining consistency in character appearance is crucial. 

Simple cartoon characters are a boon here. Their straightforward design makes it easier to keep them looking the same across different episodes and settings. This consistency is key to building a strong, recognizable brand for the series.

When characters are complex, small differences in design can become more noticeable over time, potentially distracting viewers.

different shaped characters jumping to transition into the next character

GIF by sambmotion via GIPHY

Simple designs, on the other hand, minimize these risks. They ensure that the character remains familiar to the audience, no matter the context or episode.

This consistency also extends to the team working on the animation. With simple cartoon characters, it's easier for different animators to match the style, ensuring that the character's look stays uniform, regardless of who is animating a particular scene. This is particularly important in larger studios where multiple animators might work on the same character.

In essence, simple cartoon characters help maintain a cohesive look and feel throughout a series, enhancing the overall quality and viewer experience.

Reason 5: Appeals to a Broad Age Range

Simple cartoon characters have a unique ability to charm viewers across various age groups. 

Their straightforward and clear design resonates with younger audiences, who can easily understand and appreciate these characters. At the same time, their fundamental nature often carries a nostalgic value that appeals to older viewers.

This broad appeal is a huge advantage for animators aiming to reach a wide audience. Simple characters are like a universal language in animation – they communicate emotions and stories effectively without relying on complex or age-specific themes.

an old character reading a book

GIF by Fede Cook via GIPHY

This makes them perfect for family-friendly content or brands that want to engage viewers of all ages. And let’s be honest, children’s animations need to be appealing to the parents too!

Furthermore, these simple cartoon characters can often cross cultural boundaries more easily than complex ones. Their simplicity makes them more adaptable to different contexts and relatable to people from various backgrounds. 

Reason 6: Facilitates Easier Branding and Merchandising

Simple cartoon characters aren't just a hit on the screen; they're also a big deal when it comes to branding and merchandising. Their clear and easily recognizable designs make them ideal for use in a wide range of products, from toys and clothing to stationery and digital goods. 

alternating images of cocomelon merchandise

GIF by Moonbug via GIPHY

This simplicity means they can be adapted to different formats without losing their essence, making them more marketable.

For animators and studios, this translates to a significant opportunity. Merchandise based on popular characters can be a major revenue stream. Simple cartoon characters are easier and more cost-effective to replicate across various merchandise, maintaining brand consistency and recognition. 

Plus, their appeal to a broad audience means a larger potential market for these products.

In today's world, where characters can become brands of their own, having a design that is easy to market and resonates with a wide audience is invaluable. 

It's not just about the animation; it's about creating a character that can live beyond the screen and become a part of people's lives.

Boost Your Animation Business With Simple Cartoon Characters

The power of simplicity should never be underestimated. Simple cartoon characters offer a multitude of benefits – from enhancing viewer relatability to streamlining the animation process, boosting creativity, ensuring consistency, appealing to a broad audience, and facilitating easier branding and merchandising.

For animators, whether you're working solo or as part of a larger studio, embracing the simplicity in character design can open up new possibilities and efficiencies. 

different cartoon characters morphing into each other

GIF by lilfuchs via GIPHY

Simple cartoon characters can become timeless icons, beloved across generations and cultures. They're not just easier to create and animate; they connect more deeply with audiences and can become a cornerstone of your animation career or business.

So, the next time you sit down to sketch out a new character, consider the power of simplicity. It might just be the key to creating something truly memorable and impactful. 

If you need more insights into how to use simple cartoon characters to supercharge your animation business, our Animation Business Accelerator Program provides insights, resources, and a supportive community to help professionals navigate the evolving landscape. 

If you’re an animator who’s looking to start your own studio or grow your career, check out our blog on How to Start an Animation Studio to kickstart your animation career today, or give our free Masterclass a try first if you’re curious.

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