INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Designers' top Pixar characters revealed

Following the release of Brave this week, we asked our industry panel to name their favourite Pixar character designs.

This week, Pixar's new feature film Brave was released in UK cinemas. And from the response it has already seen, the studio's 13th release is looking to be another huge blockbuster hit for the animation giant. But, while Brave is the latest in a long list of successful films for Pixar, it's unique in that it features Merida, the studio's first ever female lead character.

With so many loveable and well-designed Pixar characters, it would be almost impossible for us to choose a favourite. So, we decided to pass that difficult task to our industry panel instead...

Stewart McMillan says

Stewart McMillan

"Pixar have some great characters under their belt but the stand out character for me, from a design perspective, is Mr Incredible. His silhouette is clearly based on classic 1960s comic book super heroes, and true to this super hero format he's got massive arms and chest that taper down to tiny feet.

"However he's been given the Pixar treatment, meaning everything has been impossibly exaggerated, including his huge Desperate Dan-style chin and borrowing of Superman’s curl. I also love the fact that he's got a bit of a paunch instead of a severely chiseled six-pack that you'd find on more contemporary superheroes. This gives him a lot more personality when he moves and runs.

Go West

"All this is squeezed into a red Adam West Batman-style leotard, which is completed with an embroidered retro ‘i’ logo on his chest and golden ‘utility belt’ which finishes the look perfectly - Kerpow!"

Stewart McMillan is design director at UK-based creative agency Studio Output.

Character supervisor Bill Wise and the Pixar team had to overcome the difficult task of creating The Incredibles to be cartoony in shape and proportion but believable as humans

Mark Lee says

Mark Lee

"My favourite Pixar character has to be James P 'Sulley' Sullivan from Monsters Inc (and soon to be Monsters University). He’s a big blue loveable ball of fur, and a perfect example of Pixar technically overcoming a massive hurdle - in this case the realistic fur they’d never mastered before, and executing it perfectly, whilst never compromising on design.

"Sulley looks awesome, and it’s all down to his fur. The way it bounces when he walks, and reacts to every subtle movement is the norm for most studios now, but 11 years ago it was breathtaking. He wasn’t the first furry CG character, but he was the best up until that point.

Fur-ward thinking

"Instead of designing a character around their technical limitations, they designed the film’s perfect protagonist and then overcame the problems that it brought after. On a side note, for those seeing Brave this week, look out for the hidden ‘Easter Egg’ of Sulley...!"

Mark Lee is a senior artist at brand agency Uniform

The Pixar crew used software developed by Andrew Witkin, David Baraff, and Michael Kass to create Sully's fur

Ben the Illustrator says

Ben O'Brien aka Ben the Illustrator

"From a design perspective (and in fact for personality too), my favourite Pixar character is the talented and wonderfully perfectionist fashion designer Edna Mode, from The Incredibles.

"She is the epitome of fashion and style, wrapped up into a petite but fierce little animated character. She is a design hero, coming from the old-school classic fashion design era, she understands form and function in design (a lot of modern designers could learn a thing or two from our Edna).

Small wonder

"Her glasses and hair are the making of her character; individual, chic, strong, and even though she appears to be about 3ft tall, every time you see her she is striking a pose with such determination and brawn that no-one would ever mess with her. What a role model, what an inspiration."

Ben O'Brien is a freelance designer and illustrator.

The Incredibles director Brad Bird wanted Edna to be a similar character to 'Q' in the James Bond films, and combined cutting edge fashion with state of the art gadgets in her designs

More designers' Pixar favourites on page 2...

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