Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cheezy Character!

I mentioned that I would post some character design work and the stories behind them. This is a dolphin character I created for Austin Foods.

This job was not a problem at all, although there were curious requests and decisions made along the way. First of all this character was changed for the cover of the box as they had me remove his teeth and tongue! I don't know why they wanted the tongue removed, but I have heard of other instances about not wanting cartoon characters with pointed teeth showcased on the packaging of food products. I think the character looks odd without his inner mouth elements.

Now take a look at this (below)...

For some strange reason they wanted teeth for the dolphin on the side panel, but not the rounded pointed type a dolphin would have. They wanted human style teeth!
Looks weird! It's one of the things I really hate about CGI animal character designs.
Don't put human teeth on cartoon animals!!!


  1. There is something about the teeth that makes me think of Duckman. It seems that they always thing real teeth-especially shark teeth-will scare kids.

    Did you illustrate friend characters too? I would love yo see them.

    I love painting leopard seals. The look so sweet and the reveal a big ole' mouth of teeth.

  2. I thought cartoon animals historically had human teeth.
    I've seen a Donald Duck model sheet with explicit instructions to give Donald teeth when he's mad. Old Daffy Duck cartoons often show him with big square teeth as well. The bottom dolphin works just fine because the fins, hair, and hat are all human-like, so the teeth just blend in.

    I guess when drawing human-animal hybrids, the only rule is, it has to feel right. I always start with photos when designing cartoon animals, not because it has to be accurate, but by going directly to the source, I can sometimes get ideas from nature that cartoonists have overlooked because they've taken their cues from other cartoonists.

    Cool post, Daryll! Thanks!

  3. Christina - No, there weren't any friend characters. Just the dolphin spokes- character to help sell these crackers to kids.

    Chuck - I know what you mean about Daffy Duck, and when they put those human teeth in his mouth, it creeped me out. In most instances I can think of, cartoon animals have been designed without teeth, except as you said, when they're depicted as mad.

    I would have been fine with that for the dolphin, but without a tongue, that mouth is one giant cavernous black hole.

  4. Funny! Human teeth never creeped me out. Maybe we should do an unscientific poll at lunch.
    I absolutely agree with you about the tongue. How can a tongue be objectionable?

    Er, don't answer that.

  5. The tongue must be there to savor the cheesy deliciousness of the crackers!

    Can you tell that all of my assignments right now are waiting for sketch approval???

  6. Ha!
    I love this discussion on human teeth on a dolphin looking strange.... a dolphin that sports blond hair and nostrils :~)

    I like the human-teeth-grin on that side panel dolphin. Maybe because all those other characters I've seen with teeth already has made it more normal? I wouldn't have noticed the black hole of a mouth on the other one if it hadn't been mentioned...

    Did you design the type & box as well?

  7. Don't put human teeth on a shark but blonde hair is OK..haha

  8. Paula- No, they designed the box and type and I think they did a great job.

    Bearman- Actually the first dolphin sketches had no hair coming out of the ball cap. But if the client wants hair, the client gets hair.

    Never had a problem with human hair on cartoon critters but I still don't like human teeth on cartoon animals!

    Except buck teeth a la Buggs Bunny.

  9. I actually admire cartoonists who change the shape of their characters' teeth any time they feel like it. Pete Bagge (creator of the comics "Hate" and "Neat Stuff") changed teeth from square to round to sharpened points constantly. Any time he wanted to emphasize an emotion, basically. Drove me nuts at first, though!

  10. I'm with you, Brian! John K (of Ren and Stimpy fame) is a big advocate of going "off-model' to put over an emotion or a gag. With his loopy style, Daryll could get away with a lot. He could give the dolphin walrus tusks, and I'd buy into it.

  11. I admit that I'm afraid to Google the phrase "dolphins with hair."