Creating characters is an essential part of any movie or TV show, and animated feature films are no exception. Characters need to be designed with a specific audience in mind and should be visually appealing and relatable. We spoke to Benoit Godbout, the character designer for "Butterfly Tale" to learn more about the process of creating the characters for the movie.
Benoit started by telling us that the process for creating characters is the same for every project. The first step is to read the script and talk with the director about the goals and target audience for the film. For "Butterfly Tale," the movie is about migration and butterflies, so the team wanted the characters to be colourful and appealing to the family audience. "When designing characters for a family audience, we want them to be funny, which is an important consideration for the design choices we make," says Godbout.
The characters designs for "Butterfly Tale" were a collaborative process. When Godbout began working on the picture, there were several artists who had already worked on the creative process. He used their work as inspiration for his designs, which evolved based on feedback from the director. "We do research and look at inspirations for the designs. For Butterfly Tale we looked at butterflies and caterpillars to see how we could simplify their shapes and make them more attractive," explains Godbout.
The characters in "Butterfly Tale" are insects, but they have human-like faces with hair and clothes. The limbs and hands are thin, like insect legs, and the wings are designed to look like real insect wings. "We wanted the characters to be expressive, which meant making choices about how much to keep them as insects and how much to make them more human-like," says Godbout.
Creating characters that are familiar and appealing to a family audience was the key consideration for the design team. They chose to make the characters' faces round and expressive, with big eyes that would be relatable to a wide range of ages. "We went with a method that we know works, which is to create characters with round faces and big eyes. We also included some stylistic elements in the characters' clothing that can make our older audience smile," says Godbout.
For example, the characters' clothing is made from natural textures like leaves, petals, and moss, which creates a fun and whimsical element to the designs. Jennifer, one of the main characters, was a challenge to design because of her long hair. The design team had to create multiple options for her hairstyle and chose a style that was unique and original but also practical for animation.
"In 3D animation, long hair that isn't tied back can be challenging and costly to animate, so we went with a style that was closer to the head and more practical," explains Godbout.
Character creation is an essential part of the movie-making process, and the design team behind "Butterfly Tale" put a lot of thought and consideration into creating characters that were appealing and relatable to a family audience. Through research and collaboration, they were able to create characters that were both unique and optimal for animation.