All designs are created equal but some are more iconic than others.
Often times when looking at the iconic character designs we know and love, we often think of them as simply coming into existence, without needing work, rehashes, or any type of improvement. Unfortunately character designs like anything else contend with artistic trends, the tastes of the audience, the desires of the artist, and it can take some time before everything comes together.
While the goal of good character design is to create something that will endure through any era of aesthetics, achieving that is quite a bit dicier. The trials and tribulations of reaching that point can leave the artist with pages upon pages of unsuccesful doodles that don't make the cut for intangible reasons, or are so ridiculous that one has to wonder how it even made it to paper.
Thanks to the artists revealing to their work to us, the consumers, we have the opportunity to see the creative process for all the good, the bad, and the ugly, which sometimes, can be very ugly, down right ridiculous. Sometimes an animal isn't anthropomorphic enough, or maybe something looks rests right at the base of the uncanny valley.
Either way, these twelve doodles show that the road to perfection is never perfect, and a few mistakes have to be made before people know precisely which way to go.
12. Felix The Cat
Felix The Cat is an legend of early American cinema, even predating Mickey Mouse. The cat would become a staple of pre-film animation shorts in American theaters, before eventually losing his place to the world's most famous rodent. How ironic it must be that the rat beat out the cat in this case.
Still though, Pat Sullivan and Otto Mesmer managed to create an acclaimed character design that would persist well after the cartoon's popularity wore off. Even people who've never seen a Felix short can still identify the cat whenever they see his signature smile.
The aesthetic was perfect for black and white, with Felix almost always being in monochrome, and his rounded features echoed their way into other character designs, like Sonic The Hedgehog. However, the original drawing was never so smooth.
The very first animated short, Feline Follies, dubbed Felix the more regal, Master Tom, and had him a touch more realistic, with him often standing on all fours, rather than on his hind legs like most anthropomorphic animals. As time progressed and Felix took to standing like a human, he still needed to be rolled out, often looking more jagged and sharp before he dawned the iconic silhouette known today.
While Felix and Master Tom's early days may not be much to speak of, his metamorphosis gave America its oldest cartoon icon.