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Author Topic: What makes a costume design/character design bad?  (Read 2157 times)

Offline Outcast

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What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« on: June 15, 2010, 05:27:06 AM »
As the title says, I'm curious to know everyone's opinions on what makes a costume design/character design bad? :huh:

So far, the only link i found about the subject is this. :mellow:
http://www.heromachine.com/category/bad-super-costumes/

In relation to this i'm also looking for some tips/guide on character/costume designs.

Here's some links i found.

http://thundercake.deviantart.com/art/Unique-Character-Design-Tips-105722545

http://www.computerarts.co.uk/in_depth/features/20_character_design_tips

« Last Edit: June 15, 2010, 05:32:18 AM by Outcast »

Offline murs47

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2010, 06:58:30 AM »
Those are two good resources. *bookmarks*

"Less is more," and "form follows function," are very good guidelines...broad too, so there's plenty of room for creativity.

Character design based on current trends isn't very memorable. *stares at Daken*

Offline Outcast

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2010, 07:17:07 AM »
Glad you liked them sir Murs. :)

Speaking of functions, maybe you'll be interested in this link as well.

http://lorendiac.livejournal.com/3101.html   :)

Offline Deaths Jester

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2010, 03:35:14 PM »
Somewhere I have some stuff about making memorable villians, done by the creators of Astro City...I'll see if I can find that and post some of it.
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Offline BentonGrey

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2010, 06:43:06 PM »
Somewhere I have some stuff about making memorable villians, done by the creators of Astro City...I'll see if I can find that and post some of it.

Those guys do great work in creating instantly memorable characters (for the most part) with very little page time.
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Offline DrMike2000

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2010, 05:29:36 AM »
Its hard to pin down, isn't it? Sometimes a character design that breaks the rules can be really effective.

Alan Davis' redesign of Captain Britain looked really odd at first, with no detail at all from the chest down, but it worked.
Some people dislike Superboy's jeans and t-shirt look, I really like it and think it makes him stand out in a lineup of spandex wearing characters, even though he's not a partiuclarly realistic or street-level character.
Mister Miracle's costume is just bad in terms of colour choice and lines, but has a classic Kirby feel all the same. (Come to think of it, Darkseid's miniskirt isnt too good either. Or Doctor Doom's)
I'm sure there's some awesome costumes that break the "too much detail" rule, I just can't think of any examples off the top of my head. Prometheus maybe?

I tried finding that site with the 12 pixel test, and couldn't, it seems to have vanished now. Basically, it had 3x4 arrays of coloured blocks and asked you to identify the superhero. that was quite instructive in terms of how to lay out simple colour combos in order to be memorable.

e.g. who's this? :)

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Its interesting to see who can't be represented in 12 pixels. Wonder Woman immediately springs to mind.
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Offline Outcast

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2010, 03:10:48 PM »
Somewhere I have some stuff about making memorable villians, done by the creators of Astro City...I'll see if I can find that and post some of it.

If you could find it, It'd be great to read some of it. Thanks for the interest DJ. :)

Its hard to pin down, isn't it? Sometimes a character design that breaks the rules can be really effective.

Alan Davis' redesign of Captain Britain looked really odd at first, with no detail at all from the chest down, but it worked.
Some people dislike Superboy's jeans and t-shirt look, I really like it and think it makes him stand out in a lineup of spandex wearing characters, even though he's not a partiuclarly realistic or street-level character.
Mister Miracle's costume is just bad in terms of colour choice and lines, but has a classic Kirby feel all the same. (Come to think of it, Darkseid's miniskirt isnt too good either. Or Doctor Doom's)
I'm sure there's some awesome costumes that break the "too much detail" rule, I just can't think of any examples off the top of my head. Prometheus maybe?

I tried finding that site with the 12 pixel test, and couldn't, it seems to have vanished now. Basically, it had 3x4 arrays of coloured blocks and asked you to identify the superhero. that was quite instructive in terms of how to lay out simple colour combos in order to be memorable.

e.g. who's this? :)

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Its interesting to see who can't be represented in 12 pixels. Wonder Woman immediately springs to mind.

Thanks Dr. Mike. I was hoping you'd share your thoughts on the subject. ^_^

Dr. Mike, you mentioned Mister Miracle's costume having bad colour choices? I'm curious about this. I want to ask if there are any color combinations don't usually work?  :huh:

Yeah, i guess Prometheus does have considerable details but he looks alright in my opinion too. I also happen to like Captain Britain's costume too but i'm not familiar with the jeans and t-shirt look of Superboy.

The 12 pixel test looks pretty interesting too, too bad you couldn't find the site that explains how it works. From your example, my guess would be that it's Union Jack?  :P

@Murs - About Daken, i could understand how many would dislike a rip off of Wolverine. But isn't he like Venom and Bizarro? This Spiderman vs Spiderman, Superman vs Superman, Wolverine vs Wolverine concept? Besides C6 loves that classic brown costume of Wolverine.  :unsure:


Offline murs47

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2010, 04:27:16 PM »
@Murs - About Daken, i could understand how many would dislike a rip off of Wolverine. But isn't he like Venom and Bizarro? This Spiderman vs Spiderman, Superman vs Superman, Wolverine vs Wolverine concept? Besides C6 loves that classic brown costume of Wolverine.  :unsure:

My comment was more towards his mohawk, tattoo, and street clothing style. If it was just one of those elements it would be fine.

Offline Podmark

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2010, 05:03:19 PM »
Murs have you seen his new costume in the new solicits? Now that costume I don't like.
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Offline murs47

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2010, 05:21:08 PM »
Murs have you seen his new costume in the new solicits? Now that costume I don't like.

I have not. I did skimmer through them yesterday but I clicked on issues that interested me to give the covers a closer look.

Offline CarpeGuitarrem

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2010, 07:00:37 PM »
e.g. who's this? :)

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Its interesting to see who can't be represented in 12 pixels. Wonder Woman immediately springs to mind.
Interesting. Superman? I like that idea...

Offline Glitch Girl

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2010, 08:33:47 PM »
The site that hosted it is no longer around, though I was able to find it via web archiving.

http://web.archive.org/web/20050525143749/http://www.alldumb.com/media/content/2005/05/11824.swf  If you'd like to try it out.  I may try to host it with a disclaimer about it not being mine and all, but for this discussion, this link should do. 

for the record, I only missed 1 (#14 I think). 
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Offline Alaric

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2010, 09:42:23 PM »
The site that hosted it is no longer around, though I was able to find it via web archiving.

http://web.archive.org/web/20050525143749/http://www.alldumb.com/media/content/2005/05/11824.swf  If you'd like to try it out.  I may try to host it with a disclaimer about it not being mine and all, but for this discussion, this link should do. 

for the record, I only missed 1 (#14 I think). 

I got them all, but #14 was a combination process-of-elimination/lucky guess.
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Offline BWPS

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2010, 11:09:32 PM »
I got them all wrong :(
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Offline Podmark

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2010, 05:01:17 AM »
I got them all right but accidentally clicked Thing instead of Hulk so I got one wrong officially. 14 was just my best guess - the whole thing is big name characters and then a guy I've never heard of? Why?  <_<
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Offline Glitch Girl

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2010, 05:05:49 PM »
Since the 12 pixel thing is inadvertently hijacking the thread, I made a new thread in the games forum.  Enjoy!
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Offline Reepicheep

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2010, 08:59:14 AM »
Those links are fantastic. I don't have much more to add to the subject, except to say that I've bookmarked them both.

Offline DrMike2000

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2010, 07:16:15 AM »
The red and blue was meant to evoke Spidey. Looking at it again now its all wrong though :)


Mister Miracle uses green, red and yellow, with some white piping. I'm not 100% sure why that doesn't work, and feel obliged to point out that I'm marginally red-green colorblind, so I really notice a lack of blue when its there.

I dont think its just my wonky retinas though. I think it fails a bit on contrast, since there are no dark colors there. Blue is perceived as a dark colour, like say on Superman. The blue balances the brighter red and yellow.

We have three types of cones (color sensitive cells) that perceive colour, red, green and blue light. I think our green ones are most sensitive, then the reds, and finally the blues are least sensitive. Hence colours which trigger the red and green cells (eg yellow, green, red) appear sort of brighter than ones that trigger the blue cells (eg blue, purple and aqua). So biologically, Mister Miracle is leaving 1/3 of our retina unused, and we like to have our entire retina engaged. Well, sometimes. Other restrained combinations an work, eg black, grey and blue with touches of yellow (Batman), or white gold and black (Promethea), but these do so by looking subdued and subtle.
Mr. Miracle's scheme falls awkwardly between these two camps.

On top of that, our brains have a bunch of cells that recognise certain patterns, eg vertical lines, horizontal lines, 60 degrees angles, circles and more complicated ones like two dots and a line that make a face. These elements often make a naturally pleasing design. I'm also of the unfounded opinion that we like fractal distribution of detail, eg dark bits, light bits and inbetween bits with dark and light mixed. Mr. Miracle's costume has fairly evenly distributed detail all over with his piping, whereas say Batman and Superman concentrate their detail on the chest logo.

These are all just vague generalisations though. But I'm pretty sure a lot of general design principals can be tracked down to the way our perceptual systems work.
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Offline daglob

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2010, 04:10:27 PM »
I know Aquaman's been teased about the orange and green color scheme, but it is really intened to be metallic gold and green, which doesn't look quite so bad.

Mr. Miracles's costume is supposed to say "look at me", while the Fantastic Four's costumes say "We're a team".

Offline Deaths Jester

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2010, 03:35:25 PM »
Sorry bout taking so long on getting this up...had to actually find my original copy and scan it in...it's here.  Beware it might take some time to load seeing as it's a PDF and ye'll have to "download" it off of Google....bloody bastads...wish my graffiti.net site still worked wouldn't have gone through this problem.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 03:37:09 PM by Deaths Jester »
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Offline Tawodi Osdi

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Re: What makes a costume design/character design bad?
« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2010, 11:36:25 PM »
There is a lot of room for subjectivity because of age and cultural differences.  For me, I like relatively simple designs and dislike excessive loudness.  I think they character strategy is important.  If you want a character that's going to be around for the next couple of generations, you would want to follow the axiom of simpler is better.  What you don't want to do for longterm character exposure is to make costumes too tied to the period that they are created.  You want them to have timeless appeal, and you don't want to change the characters design to keep him hip.  How many hippy and disco motifed characters are still lurking in the background?  Of course, if you just want to ride the current zeitgeist and don't care for tomorrow, all the rules are out the window?  Again, there are exceptions to the rule.  Mind you, I am no expert; so, this isn't a professional opinion.