Effective visual storytelling almost always relies on thoughtful character design, even if the character’s an inanimate object. That’s why we’ve packed so many featured into Vyond’s Character Creator, and why it’s now one of the first tools presented to new Vyond makers.
When you need to build a cast of characters from various stages of life, though, where do you begin? Recently, an expert from Vyond’s customer support team shared a few examples they created in the Vyond Maker Community forum:
Adriana’s examples above show how a few thoughtful design choices—from body type to hair color—can clearly and convincingly convey various stages of life in your characters. Having the ability to represent characters of diverse age groups can be a powerful tool in any animator’s toolkit, especially to depict age-specific relationships like parent and child:
In the video above, ATD Training uses clever character design in Vyond to create a scenario-based training video about parent-child conversations. To get the video’s message across, it was important to create a visual relationship between the parent and child characters—particularly across age. By using some similar tactics to Adriana, they managed to do that quite effectively.
With a little thought, you can design child-like characters in any of Vyond’s animation styles. In the video below, you can watch one of Vyond’s own video producers create a young character in the Contemporary style.
Read on for more advice on designing Vyond characters that are young, old, and everything in between.
4 Tips to Create Characters of Any Age
1. Select your character’s body type
Body type is one of the easiest ways to depict various stages of life. Whether your viewers are in Bangkok or Berlin, they’ll register that babies are small and adults are large.
To choose your character’s body type, open the character panel located at the top toolbar and then click on create a new character. After selecting an animation style, you’ll be prompted with a two-step window to pick between several body types that vary in height, weight, and other physical traits.
The first window will allow you to choose between two characters with different physical traits. Because of our Character Creator’s broad range of gender-neutral options, you can focus on picking the body type that best captures your character’s unique gender expression and support it later with clothing and body features.
After choosing between the two body frames, you’ll be able to pick between five body types that vary in height and weight. As a general rule, the smaller and slimmer the body type, the younger a character will appear.
Children are shorter and weigh less than a full-grown adult, making our fifth body type (shown above) perfect for younger characters. However, it’s trickier with older generations, where teenagers, adults, and older people can share the same height. Vary the characters’ weights to differentiate between young and middle-aged adults. While real life doesn’t have any rules for weight across age, in animation, you can effectively use slightly larger characters to suggest the extra—ahem—experience we gain as we advance through life.
2. Customize facial features and hair
Children—at least for the most part—don’t have full-grown beards. Facial hair, fine lines, and gray hair are also typically features of a particular age group. By adding or removing these features from your characters, you can help signal their age to audiences.
Vyond’s Character Creator lets you choose between more than 300 face shape, eye, nose, mouth, eyebrow, ear, hair, and eyewear customizations that you can combine to convey a specific age.
With the pair on the left, notice how a mouth with wrinkles can help us suggest a character is older, even with same height, weight, and outfit of their more junior companion. Similarly, for the pair on the right, viewers will assume the character on the right side with the cropped hair is older than the figure with shaggy hair. To take this even further, you could use Vyond’s RGB color selector to change their hair color from dark blue and black to gray.
Of course, age isn’t an exact science. Some young people have fine lines and wrinkles, and some old people keep their hair long and shaggy. Keep in mind that your characters can appear however you see fit, and capitalizing on your audience’s assumptions can help you communicate your story more clearly.
3. Design age-specific outfits
People of all ages are free to wear what they like, but we tend to associate clothing choices with specific generations. Teenagers own band t-shirts to showcase their musical taste while only someone in their late 20s or older could be wearing medical scrubs while on the job.
Inside Vyond’s Character Creator, you can choose more than 300 top and bottom garments for your character by clicking on the one that best represents them. The clothing choices range from casual pieces such as hoodies, blouses, and t-shirts to work-related apparel like astronaut suits, soccer t-shirts, and pilot shirts.
A teenage baseball player wearing a sports tee aligns with the person’s age and what they do. We’d expect him to wear that on the field or even for daily errands. On the flip side, dress that same character in an admiral’s jacket covered in medals, and viewers might think he’s wearing his parent’s jacket or a Halloween costume.
4. Add accessories
The accessories section offers over a hundred details and wearables that you can use to make your characters look younger or older.
As with clothing, Vyond’s Character Creator lets you modify the color of specific accessories. You can alter the hue of a character’s accessories—such as changing a mask from green to black—or turn facial hair selected from the accessories tab to gray to signal age.
While varying a character’s facial hair color can help communicate different ages, there are ready-to-use options to age a character, such as police officers’ and hunters’ hats. Other accessories can make your characters appear more youthful, such as a Batman mask or an academic cap.
Tell any story with Vyond.
Using the right customizations, your stories will resonate with your audience. You’ll create characters that remind viewers of themselves, their peers and role models, or even the person they want to become in the future.
Age is just the beginning. With Vyond, you can create characters with different backgrounds and professions and put them in custom environments to tell your unique story. The best part? You don’t need to hire a film producer to get your story right. Vyond’s user-friendly design—which includes templates and drag-and-drop tools—is easy to learn, whether you’re creating marketing videos or internal training content. Regardless of your message, Vyond makes it easy to bring it to life.
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