Feedback on little panda design

  • Pro

    Hello πŸ™‚

    I recently started to work on my first book, about a little panda. It's been a long time since I've put this much effort into character design, like filling pages and pages and pages! I'm at a point where I'm unsure what version to go with and would love your opinions and feedback on my top 2...

    So since the beginning I had this idea of doing a very stylized character design where the head and body are merged together into one big shape, or as I started to call it in my head, a panda bean! But when I started sketching I was really underwhelmed with the results, it wasn't really what I imagined it would look like. After a while I started doing versions of a more traditional, separate head and body design and one in particular I really liked! But I went back to the bean idea a few days later and tried again, and this time did come up with a bean version that I really like too. Now I'm not sure what to do...


    To bean or not to bean? What version do you prefer? And do you have any feedback on these sketches, anything I could improve? Thank you so much in advance!

  • I really like the bean version. Looking at giant pandas and thinking about what represents them I feel like a panda is a big, lumbering guy and that works well with the thick neck. The bean exaggerates the thick neck a panda already has so I think it reads really well. Seems like the first especially works if other characters are more like the second design so it's clear you are specifically drawing a big panda guy.

  • SVS OG

    I'm partial to the second one in design and silhouette but not because it's "better" than the first. It my just be a comfort issue of me liking similarly shaped characters but the first design is fun and works, too. My recommendation is to think ahead to potential problems either design will give you in having to draw them in different poses and consider the style of the other characters.

  • I like them both! I think the one you choose depends on what feeling/message/personality you want the character to convey.

    Some keywords I get from each one:

    1: Chubby. Solid. Thick. Friendly. Huggable. Plush.

    2: Small. Friendly. Inoffensive? Young. Innocent. Child-like.

    What does the panda do? What's the idea in the story? What do you need out of this character?

  • I really like the second option. I think you can do more with the body type than with the first option (also a really good style). It is much more expressive in my opinion.

  • Pro

    Thank you for your opinions, your have given me lots to think about!

    @Art-of-B The story takes the little panda through a variety of different emotions and highlights/explains them. So it is important that the character be expressive and able to show an array of emotions (joy, fear, anger, sadness, etc). The little panda is young and very child-like with changeable moods, but a nice and friendly character overall.

    I do think both designs have the potential to be expressive. I really like how the bean shape can be bent and squished to accommodate different poses, that really tickles my love of bold shapes in design! Like @ThisKateCreates says, it capture the thick and fluffy feel of pandas. The second one is maybe a bit easier to pose though, and it does read as innocent and child-like which fits the text well... Although the bean also doesn't look adult either, it looks young and chubby...

    I'm still so undecided, you ALL make good points! O______O

  • I love em both … I think I like Panda Bean best though, reminds me a bit of Teddy from persona 4 πŸ™‚

    I'd like to see other Animal Beans lol Maybe that will help … draw some of Panda Beans friends and see what they look like πŸ™‚

  • SVS OG

    I’m really torn. Maybe the second design?

  • I love both your little panda's, they're so sweet! I personally think number 2 would work better for the story outline you've given us, his body shape and face etc, might be easier to illustrate emotions and pose better. Plus he looks more childlike to me and has a lot of sass - that second pose is the best hehe!

  • Pro

    Thank you so much for all your feedback! With your help I have made a decision, I think I will go with the panda bean! In the end, I feel like that design is more recognizable as my own, which I really wish to do with my first book. The second one is cute, but one can google "cute panda cartoon" and see dozens of drawings that look like it, while the panda bean is a more unique design. I loved @ThisKateCreates comment about how it captures the shape of real pandas, you put into words what was just a vague gut feeling in me, thank you!

    @Sophie-Lawson The book actually called for 3 of little panda's cousins, so I will have to draw panda beans with different shapes and accessories! And I agree with you I think that'll be really fun hihi

  • SVS OG

    @nessillustration You seem to really enjoy the panda bean design and that will surely show through in your work. And you are spot on about it being unique to you as opposed to blending in with similar designs. I think you made the right choice and look forward to seeing the project!

  • SVS OG

    I like how expressive the panda bean is! Great choice. (they are both great, but still!)

  • SVS OG

    I was thinking what @Art-of-B Said. It depends on who your character is. I think you can convey lots of emotions with the bean. I was first drawn to the 2nd one, but then I started to figure out what each body type seemed like. The bean seems like a stuffed animal and the 2nd like a personified panda. I like the plushy bean best!

    The more realistic in nature the more the reader will identify as the character. The more abstract the reader will think of it as their stuffed animal coming to life. I totally made all that up. Sounds like it makes sense to me.

    If you are uneasy about the bean maybe do more bean sketches? Keep trying to make the bean work until it’s β€œthe one.” However, I’m a fan. I like the bean as it is.

  • For me I like the second design better for the plot you have outlined. Its gives off a more 'little panda' vibe than the bean. The bean is awesome but I feel he could be viewed as either a kid or adult (for me more adult) - so if the objective is to have a kid panda option B translates better.

    Both designs are great - i guess it comes down to what works best for the story

  • Pro

    Haha I just love how everyone is calling it "the bean" while talking so professionally and seriously! It's so adorable, it makes me warm and fuzzy inside ❀
    Thank you all for your feedback! @Whitney-Simms That makes a lot of sense to me too!

  • SVS OG

    I love both of them. It's hard to choose as they are so cute and you could take either design much further. I imagine the bean panda in a world full of other animal characters also bean shape. Would be a cuteness overload. I do like the big head panda too. I would use this to tell a story that had an emotional message in as he is very expressive. Gorgeous work. Looking forward to see where you go from here. High ten!

  • My wife who I just showed it to and myself prefer the Bean, as pandas tend not to have a very distinct separate head - body. I think this adds to their cute and cuddlyness.

    On the Bean design maybe you could have the arms shape flipped, like the shoulder thicker than down at the hands, similar to the legs.

    If you want to play with the design you could play with the position/size of the facial features, to see if its better, worse etc. I like the features the way they are but you never know what can come from moving the eyes down giving the character a bigger forehead or making the eyes even bigger. Or smaller eyes and higher on the head, although this may make them look older.

    I hope this helps, look forward to seeing more πŸ™‚

  • Pro

    @phil-cullen Hi Phil! Following your suggestion I played with the face a bit and ended up enlarging the black spots around the eyes and reducing the nose and mouth. It makes him more striking and cuter, so I thank you for your great feedback ❀ I'm also intrigued with your idea for the arms, although I like the arms as they are for the main character, I have to draw 3 of panda's cousins with sligthly different designs so I think I'll give one of them arms like you mentioned! Thanks again πŸ™‚

  • @nessillustration awesome, so glad to hear some of the suggestions worked out πŸ™‚

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