Outreach: Character design at Warrnambool Art Gallery

In partnership with the Warrnambool Art Gallery in south-west Victoria, the ACTF Learning team delivered a creative workshop titled ‘Character design for TV’ earlier this month. Children aged 8-12 years gained insight into character design in the new series Eddie’s Lil’ Homies, then applied their learning by developing an original character. Inspired by the book series by AFL legend Eddie Betts, the television series is available on NITV, Netflix and SBS On Demand.

Luke Jurevicius – Co-Director of Eddies Lil’ Homies and CEO of Vishus Productions animation house – shared his animation knowledge with participants through pre-recorded interviews. Highlighting the importance of establishing a detailed backstory for any new character, children began by brainstorming aspects of a character they could draw. These included their character’s personality, appearance, likes, dislikes, fears and goals. Characters included football and netball players, a rock with ‘chaos’ mode, a blueberry-picking bear, and a child who creates chaos after secretly drinking their mum’s coffee!

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From here, children made initial sketches of their characters, then they sketched the additional costumes and props that their character might need. Viewing a segment of an Eddie’s Lil’ Homies animatic (a storyboard with movement and audio) illustrated for students how valuable sketches can be for developing the timing and composition of frames through animatics.

As their final step, children attempted orthographic drawings of their original character. These are drawings which represent a three dimensional object in two dimensions. As Eddie’s Lil’ Homies is a 3D animation, animators produce multiple 2D drawings of each character from different angles as part of the design process, establishing the character’s appearance from different angles. Drawing the back of a character was a new experience for many of the participants, but they embraced the challenge!

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In some parting advice for young people who would like to pursue a career in animation, Luke said: ‘You could take inspiration from Eddie Betts. You don’t get to be so great without doing lots of practise, lots of hard work, and being passionate and disciplined about what you do. I think Eddie became such a great goal kicker because he practised so much.

'It’s the same with animation. You need to have a lot of passion; it’s not just about talent. You need to put the hours in. You should definitely watch a lot of animation, you should study as much animation as you can. And, with the internet, you can download and watch – for free – so many tutorials on how to animate. Go online and find as many tutorials as you can, and follow them, watch them, learn from them. There are amazing animators out there that can help you.

'I would also say to pick one aspect of animation and work very hard at it. There are a lot of steps involved in animation and there are lots of different roles. Put your heart and soul into doing one or two key things in animation and get as good as you can. It all comes down to hard work and passion. Usually, passionate people do amazing things in life.’

Thank you to the Warrnambool Art Gallery, Vishus Productions and our wonderful participants for making this event possible.

Teachers, replicating this task in the classroom would address curriculum content in English, Media Arts, Visual Arts, and Critical and Creative Thinking. For more teaching ideas for the series, see our free Eddie’s Lil’ Homies resource and recorded workshop with Eddie Betts.

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