10 tips for kawaii character design

Kawaii style is too often seen as a genre aimed at children or the young-at-heart adult. However this design direction has far deeper roots and potential than its innocuous appearance gives it credit for. If design history could be compared to natural evolution, then kawaii style adapted to survive in a competitive environment where capturing attention was paramount to success.

Just think of Tokyo, where dizzying urban life is punctuated surprisingly often by childlike mascots for mundane things. Using eye contact to establish connection is a basic trick when designing for fast-paced surroundings. Combine that with the innate human empathy towards cuteness, based on an evolutionary need to protect offspring, and you can see how kawaii art starts ticking the boxes.

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