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Internal vs. external features

Whats on the inside vs. outside of a character? Pixar artists discuss character development through the lenses of external features like design or appearance and internal features like emotions or beliefs. Artists create authentic, relatable characters by drawing from personal experiences and real-life people. Fully developed characters have clear desires and face obstacles, which drive their journey and create engaging stories.

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  • duskpin seed style avatar for user Anansi Spider
    Mort from Madagascar is cute and fluffy on the outside.

    On the inside, he is actually planning how to put you in his
    oven, turn you into a cake and eat you. Wouldn't you agree?
    (33 votes)
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  • duskpin sapling style avatar for user Nefise Selin Obuz
    I almost cried while he was talking about his dad and how he looked behind at the memories. :(
    (22 votes)
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  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Ceecee1234
    any tips for character visuals?
    (8 votes)
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    • starky seed style avatar for user Giulia Listo
      I think it really depends on the character's personality and, also, if that's something they show proudly or something they hide. For example: you can have a character that is afraid of relationships and they'll be true to that, so they'll be introverts, maybe shy, using clothes that hide them and so on. But you can also have a character that is afraid of the same thing but hides it, so they'll be extroverts, maybe even exaggerated, or maybe dress and act sober not to show any emotions.
      (16 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user newlifebegins0
    How to know if your character is infused with way too many details?? One more ques, if you don't mind, how much time one must take to actually develop a compelling and fully developed character?
    (3 votes)
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    • female robot ada style avatar for user AJ Jones❤️
      The more details the better I say! In stories (or films too.) having a detailed character is important cause it gives the reader a way to really understand who that character is. Keep in mind though that it's not only physical details that are important, such as; what their hair color is, what their nose shape might be, or their eyes. It's also important to have details as to what they are like as a person and details such as, their hobbies, theirs passions, there desires, etc. Small details might even be important to such as their favorite soda or movie. I think these personal details are really important when it comes to creating a character because it really brings them to life and we can even relate to these characters in more ways than one. Sometimes these personal details can influence their physical features too. Whatever details you find easier to do first though is what I recommend.

      Hmmmm, your second question is a bit of a tricky one. It depends, character development can take as long as you want it to really. Take for example: Say I'm writing about a boy who discovers a portal that take you to other dimensions. Now say we know what his worlds like, maybe he lives in a small town and he's always wanted to travel and go places but his family is low income and always busy with work, and can't really go anywhere at this moment in time. Now we assume from hearing this that the boy will probably go through this portal in a heartbeat. But do we really know that? What if he's scared? What if he doesn't want to leave his family or wants to bring them with him? What if he's not in the greatest physical health to leave? It can sometimes be easier to create worlds first than characters sometimes since characters can be more complicated and detailed than worlds.

      Hope this helps.

      Edit 2/22/21: I think I should have mentioned this last time. The details of your character shouldn't be laid out all at once, they should unfold over time throughout the story/or film. Maybe some of you already knew that, but hope that bit of advice helps as well.
      (17 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user radulskit30
    seriously crying at the Up part. Rip
    (5 votes)
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  • leaf red style avatar for user Caleb Fudge
    your hilarious Funky chicken. yes. I feel your vibe there. throw a stick of dynamite in the elevator
    (4 votes)
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  • aqualine sapling style avatar for user Bidhi Pant
    Like Flynn from Tangled is a criminal, but on the inside he's really nice.
    (4 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user 2512143
    the one that the girls were stuk they got crazy but who did they do aft that because one of the girls got so crazy
    (3 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user IssacC
    bro whos is typing these long sentences
    (3 votes)
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  • duskpin seed style avatar for user goldengoul2
    Movies like UP and Ratatouille are really, really good. Whatever you get paid, it is not enough.
    (3 votes)
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Video transcript

- Hi, I'm Christian Roman and I'm a story artist at Pixar. (bell dings) I'm your host for this second lesson on storytelling, which is on character development and I have a few friends joining me. - I'm Austin Madison, I am a story artist. - My name is Aphton Corbin, and I'm a storyboard artist. - My name is Louise Smythe, and I am a storyboard artist. - My name Ronnie del Carmen, I am a story person, director, designer, and all around troublemaker around here at Pixar. - The goal of this lesson is to explore our character development process by which we go from simple character concepts such as a robot or a fish or a girl to complex characters people can actually care about. Take Wall-E, he's not just a robot, he's a lonely, curious robot who fears, thinks, and ultimately loves. Or Nemo, he's not just a fish, he's a young fish who craves independence from his father, but endangers himself in trying to achieve it. Or Merida, she's a young princess who wishes to pursue her own hopes and dreams rather than conform to her parents' expectations. We can call these characters fully developed. This means we've gotten to know them so well that we can imagine them in almost any situation. Creating a fully developed character isn't easy. You're basically creating a new life from scratch, but it's really special when you get there. So, how do we begin character development at Pixar? - We can talk about characters in two ways. They have their external features, which is their design, their clothes, what they look like. Then much more interesting is the internal features. Are they insecure, are they brave, are they jealous? - I will pretend like I'm having a conversation and getting to know a friend and think okay, well what do they like to do? What are their beliefs, what do they enjoy? What do they not enjoy? - I think actually I work more externally first now that I think about it. You know, what they're wearing, how they style their hair, and that kind of informs internally what's going on. - One of my favorite Pixar characters is Syndrome. You look on the outside and he actually kind of looks like a superhero. He's got the superhero costume on, he's got a cape. He's got this dazzling hair. But inside he's totally a villain and he wants to actually do away with all the supers. So you kind of have that great little contrast there with that character that makes him feel really rich and really real. - Characters have to come from authentic human emotions and experiences. - And it doesn't necessarily have to mean make every character you, it could also be draw from people you know, things from real life. - Listen to that little voice saying. "Oh, that's just like "what my mom used to do." Or, "Oh that's just like this friend I had in high school." Or, "My little brother was like that "when we were growing up." - Because it's much easier to go from your family members or a friend when you're trying to search for a character. The specificity that people bring that you can't make up on your own is something that I look forward to and I enjoy when I'm trying to pinpoint down a character. - I was working on Up. I was the story supervisor. Now I'm a little invested in Carl's journey because back then my father was not well. He also had a full head of white hair. When he gets to the tepui, Carl actually has to be alone in his house essentially looking back at the life that he had lead with Ellie. He does this silently. At that point when I was storyboarding that sequence my father was already in the hospital and he was unable to speak. And when I actually talked to my father he can only communicate to me through his eyes, and with smiles and facial movements. That actually helped me accurately storyboard those moments when Carl silently thinks about his life with Ellie. And without dialog we understand the emotions that he's going through. Without my experience with my father I wouldn't have been able to actually tackle that moment in the movie and storyboards credibly. And I told him that Dad, I'm drawing you as Carl. - Understanding a character, both inside and out will help you figure out what the character really desires, which is what drives them through their journey. In this first exercise you'll have a chance to think about the difference between internal and external character traits. Remember, the more you know about your character, the more real that character will feel.