doodledo talks to... Jack! Delving into what our kids are watching.
March 7, 2022

doodledo talks to character design mastermind and children’s animation hero Jack about what really goes into making the stuff our kids are watching. 

Jack is part of the animation team here at doodledo, and has been working closely with Wonderpop to develop the music videos for their super-catchy tunes for kids. Wonderpop is an artist on the Magic Star children’s music label, boasting original songs about bubbles, bathtime, manners and a whole menagerie of animal tunes, as well as reinventings of classic nursery rhymes - and we’re having a blast telling these stories. 

Crafting content for this audience - children aged 3-5 - presents a unique set of challenges, and unique opportunities to be creative too. We sat down with Jack to talk about all things character, and how the choices we make in the animation can shape the song for the child enjoying it. 

So - first thing’s first - what makes a good character design for children? 

Jack: Shape language is really important. Once you notice it, you can see it quite clearly in any character silhouette. Certain shapes tell you about the characters - round characters tend to be friendly, and then pointy, sharper characters can be more angry or vicious, and square characters are quite strong… Think of one now, you’ll see it! And then of course the colours and lines have to be very bold, straightforward. Lots of primary colours to make the characters more visually appealing. 

The simpler it is, the easier it is to draw too. You have to be conscious of how kids are going to interact with this. That’s why our characters are based on geometric shapes, so kids can redraw them easily - we’ve done colouring sheets! And then seen pictures back from childrens’ groups with these colouring sheets with our characters on. It’s very rewarding to see people enjoying our work in all these different ways. 

This is Buddy the Lazy Farm Dog, and his nemesis The Fox. Can you spot the difference in their character design? Guess who’s the friendly one! 

Tell us about some of your favourite designs! 

A lot of them are animals, and especially for a children’s animation clarity is important, so a duck’s got to be, you know, a duck. Sometimes you get to really have fun with it - in [bubble song name], the brief was just for a song about bubbles, so I thought, who could be singing about bubbles? So I got to create these soap characters, with this bubble pompadour, like a soapy Elvis, with bubbles emulating buttons… It’s definitely one of the more interesting ones! 

Then we’ve got this bird character that you see in every video, which creates a real sense of narrative for children. It started out as a background character - we needed an extra character, and we had a bird left over from another video and to fill time I added this slapstick gag with it, and that went down really well. So now we never make a video without one! It’s the kind of consistency that children really like. Like spot the bird on every page! 

So does the intro serve a similar purpose, then? 

Exactly! It creates a kind of story. We created this cast of kid characters, and it’s a different one in every video, and we were really intentional about making sure our animated cast featured a diverse group of children, so that every child can see themselves in Wonderpop’s universe. And all the toy characters are in it too, from the other videos! It just adds a bit of storytelling, as if the child is going to the toybox and picking out which toy to play with that day, which is when we go into the video world. It’s just that bit of interaction to help engage the kids. And the kids get to have a go at guessing who might be in the next video before it starts… they love that! 

What other considerations do you have to bear in mind when engaging a younger audience?

Firstly - definitely don’t have too much on screen demanding attention! Keeping it simple is the key - if there’s numbers or an aspect of teaching going on, make that the focus with big colourful soft round shapes, or say they mention a word, focusing in on the thing being mentioned. 

Interested in kids animation, or animation and design in general? Check out some more we've done over on our work page.

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