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The PAPERWALKER Journal is the personal weblog of award-winning character designer Florian Satzinger in which he shares bits and pieces of his character design work, processes, visual development, inspirations and reference materials of current, past and future projects, such as 'Toby Skybuckle©' for France and Japan based Ankama Group LLC and 'DUCK AWESOME©' and 'John Starduck©' for Paperwalker Studios SHF. ©2018 by Florian Satzinger. World rights reserved. | 45,734,914 views | 77,305 subscribers

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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Apropos Character Design... And Responsibility

I'm part of the book project Masters of Anatomy which reminded me - in a broader context - of this very image/posting:
"If you need a reminder on just how absurd it is for a woman to compete with Barbie-like beauty standards, HuffPost Women came across this photograph."
(via and via)


  1. I hate to say it because I completely agree with the sentiment, but I think the Barbie proportions issue is misdirected. There are certainly cultural problems with the self-image of women, but it's not originating with Barbie dolls or Disney princesses. Simplification and caricature are an essential part of appealing character design and I don't think it's any more wrong for Mattel to use those tools when creating an "idealized" woman toy than it is for DC to design Superman the way they do.

    Politicians, pastors, and media take pot shots at Barbie for the same reason they painted Elvis as evil back in the day: creating controversy over something that is popular gets you more attention.

    That said, I do think character designers have a responsibility not to actively support the problem of objectifying women. Does that mean it's not okay to draw a pin-up? Does it mean that breasts must be modestly covered and deemphasized? Or is it all really about personality and creating characters that have obvious value outside of their appearance? There will be a lot of debate over the particulars so it would be hard to draw a line somewhere, but I do think it's an area we can improve in.

  2. How are you, Sam? Many thanks for sharing your thoughts on this here. I appreciate that very much. To me, and you already pointed that out, the main problem is - inadvertently or not - the objectifying of girls and women and the portrayal in which women and girls are stereotypically represented. Labeled as girly, unintelligent, super-feminine living toys.

  3. Florian,
    I'm doing very well. I agree that making them unintelligent and "girly," in the stereotypical helpless/materialistic fashion definitely objectifies women. I actually think the Bratz toys are worse than Barbie in that category, but Barbie is guilty of some of that too. But in both cases it's less about the proportions and more about how it all comes together: personality, display of sexuality, etc.

  4. By the way, I should have commented to say this more often, but I love your art and I'm glad you're still going strong with the posts. :)

  5. Thanks, Sam! Same here, I love your art and I'm glad to have here around.