Form Stereotypes in Animation Design

During my investigations into character form design, I found that the shapes of characters can be destilled into eight recognizable primary forms.

In my thesis I linked these primary forms to character personalities using Jung’s Psychological Typology and invented a tool for analysing animation characters.

The characters you see here are made to show the stereotypes and I used them all in short animation for my final project for my Bachelor Exam.


Analysing over forty animations from Disney Studios I found that three shapes were almost always the helpers to the main character (and sometimes the villain): the Stick, the Circle and the Bean. These characters were also primarily what I called “inbetween” the villains and the heroes personality-wise.

The heroes had only two shapes, one male and one female: The Chalice and the number Eight. And finally the villains was almost always triangular as a basic shape.

In my final animation I used the characters to show how we view eachother in formstereotypes too. During my research I asked people to tell me what they thought about different shapes in people – fat people were lazy and out of control, where as skinny people were control freaks and too concerned with how they looked. Tall people were competent and intimidating and small people were easy to be around and good listeners.

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