Accessibility Character Designs

I don't post a lot of content from my actual job on this blog, but I wanted to show some character development sketches I worked on recently.

I'm a Media Designer at Cengage, an American textbook company, where I create animations and illustrations for online learning. Prior to this role, I had not often considered accessibility in my designs. Now I must always consider people with visual impairments, such as color blindness, when creating images and animations. There are lots of resources for designers when trying to make accessible work, such as plugins to check contrast levels and pre-made color palettes, but there is considerably less resources for trying to make accessible characters.

Some of our students have difficulty registering subtle emotions, so as we each created designs to go into our character library, we needed to make sure we drew highly expressive faces to more easily convey emotions.

My first style used various shades of blue and a pop of yellow, which keeps the design simple but still appealing to those who might be color blind.

The second style was a chunky, collage-like look that creates strong silhouettes while still maintaining expressive facial features.

And my last one was a style more meant for illustration than animation. It's a bit of a mid-50s look with a primary color palette.

Overall character design is very complex and some people spend their whole careers on just this topic. I've never taken any course that covers character design, so I think it would be worthwhile if I ever have the chance.