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Jul 17, 2006

The "Cute" Character

You think WE have rules of cuteness? Let's take a look at the original purveyors of cute with this drawing from Warner Bros. How many rules did we get right? Certainly not all of them.

To sum it up: "Cuteness is based on the basic proportions of a baby PLUS expressions of shyness or coyness." Well put!


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» Formula for cuteness from Can You Hear Me Now?
Did you know there was a formula for cuteness? I can't lie - these pics ARE cute. The formula works. [Read More]



 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 07:55 AM

Anime has some seriously hard-and-fast rules of cuteness too (huge eyes, tiny mouth, etc.) which would be interesting to compare these to.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 07:55 AM

Meg- I think you've hit the nail on the head!

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 07:56 AM

They said "Fanny" !

Fanny is cute!

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 07:59 AM

Damn... I thought I had some strict standards ... cute down to a science... thats cool.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 07:59 AM

Anime sucks

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 07:59 AM

Actually I remember studying something very similar in anthropology class. No joke.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:04 AM

I dunno, I find this formulaic cuteness too rigid. These rules would never produce a squooshy manatee or a sleepy elephant-seal or the sproing colt. There is more cuteness in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:09 AM

Crazy, my mom has this same drawing book. I used to copy the pictures from it.

D'oh Eyes
 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:15 AM

I have that book! It's a "how to" book on animation, that I've had since I was a kid. I actually learned a lot about drawing from it.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:21 AM

does it matter the baby is cute =)

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:21 AM

wow the original Rules of Cuteness! Although it really only applies to making cute animated drawings... and not real life. Not having a neck is severely un-cute.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:34 AM

I actually have this book, and it's not anime, it's just Western animation.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:41 AM

Maymee - it's true - baby animals (especially mammals) are designed to provoke "awww" reactions from other animals. This is supposed to stop them from becoming lunch.

Tony James
 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:47 AM

I loooove the classic Warner Bros animation. My favorite short is "Feed the Kitty." Marc Antony (bulldog) has some of the best expressions EVER.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:54 AM

'fanny protrudes'...???

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:58 AM

/me tries to visuallize something which does not match to any of these rules and still looks cute. :-)

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 09:01 AM

Just a note on the origin of the page.

It's not from Warner Bros.
It's from the Preston Blair Animation How-to Book published originlly by Walter Foster. It's an excellent book and has been reprinted and is available for any of you out there who want some animation knowledge. I used this book quite a lot when I started animating myself.

Cute Rules!!


Russell Calabrese
 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 09:22 AM

no neck - check
fanny protrudes - check
high forehead - check
short, non-skinny arms - check
tummy bulges - check
fat legs - check

Hey, I knew sooner or later I'd be cute by someone's standards!

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 09:34 AM

Russell, you animated yourself? Cool! What kind of cartoon character are you now?

Laurie C
 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 09:36 AM

I have this book too! I totally learned proportion from it. Well, this book an Mark Kissler of the Imagination Station.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 10:28 AM

Cute. Borderline creepy, though.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 10:45 AM

Good old Walter Foster. I still have his book on drawing horses.

The late Stephen Jay Gould wrote a famous essay for Natural History magazine on the evolution of Mickey Mouse from a rather uncuddly, rattish type to the loveable* modern Mickey. And he manages to use the word "cute" only two times in the entire essay. (See: http://www.towson.edu/~sallen/COURSES/311/ESSAYS/MM.html)

* (Not loveable to me. I hate Mickey and his squeaky voice. Give me Bugs and Daffy and Foghorn et. al. any time.)

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 11:12 AM

"Not having a neck is severely un-cute."

Actually I can think of loads of things that have little to no neck and have appeared right here on CO and are VERY cute... bunnys, hamsters, certain little birds and some types of dogs have very short necks unless they specifically stretched out and they are still cute. Give the no-necks a break... its not their fault. *g*

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 11:25 AM

Big feet are really cute sometimes: look at any puppy or kitten. So the rules don't always apply. Interesting, tho.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 11:35 AM

I think Meg's Rules of Cuteness are better.
The only thing I would consider truly cute in this drawing is the raccoon. It's squeezable.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 12:51 PM

Meh... I've always found most human babies to be ugly, ugly, ugly 80% of the time. Very little about these doodles is 'cute'. The raccoon, maybe.

I've always highly preferred Disney style to old Warner Bros style. Kitten Simba was cute. The fox and the hound (from the movie by the same name :P) were cute. Countless other Disney characters have been cute. I'm hard pressed to think of any old Warner Bros character that was ever cute (in my oh so humble opinion, in any case).

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 01:31 PM

"Baby animals (especially mammals) are designed to provoke "awww" reactions from other animals. This is supposed to stop them from becoming lunch."

Tony James: That expains why there is a veritable bloodbath in my brother's aquarium every time there's these small baby fishes present. Not enough "awww"-potential.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 02:02 PM

wow! i have this art book! it belonged to my sister who is 16 years older than me and i used to work out of it. blows my mind.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 02:49 PM

I can't stop laughing at the word 'fanny' -immature- I'm British and it has a far dirty meaning here ;)

'Fanny pack' always provokes funny looks from Brits too XD

Anyway, these rules work quite well but sometimes the opposite is true...such as fawns and foals with long gangly legs...bunnies with giant feet...the duck stretching it's long neck going 'ehn' XD

My guinea pig follows all these rules in this book XD

Dickie Twinkles
 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 03:54 PM

For the record... I'm a midwestern American, I can't remember anyone I've ever known using the word "fanny," unless maaaaaaybe they were intentionally trying to sound foolish. It's pretty much a dead word.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 04:08 PM

...OK, other than in the context of "fanny pack." (D.T. has a point.)
I never hear it by itself, though.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 04:09 PM

Wow, this could double as my guide to finding the Perfect Date, I mean so many guys I've dated apparently are "cute!"

(and poor, and drunk...)

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 04:17 PM

DAD: I said turn that thing down and get ready for school.
SON: Hey!!!!!!! You ruined my record man, I just bought it.
DAD: I don't care what you just bought! You get your little fanny perpendicular and get ready for school!
SON: I'm not going to school.
DAD: What do you mean you're not going to school.
SON: Just what I said, I'm not going to school.
DAD: And why not?
SON: Cause I'm sick that's why not.
DAD: Sick. You're sick all right. What's wrong with you now, Prince Charming
SON: I've got an earache
DAD: Earache my eye, how would you like a buttache? Now get your little fanny out of that bed and clean up this room, it looks like a pig sty. You hear me?
SON: (makes pig sounds)
DAD: All right, that's enough. That's enough. You pushed me far enough, young man. You're getting punished. Now stand up.
SON: No!
DAD: I said stand up!
SON: Owwwwww! Let go of my hair man!
DAD: Now young man, I have talked to you and talked to you and talked to you till I'm blue in the face and I'm done talking to you!
SON: Good, does that mean you're done spitting on me too?
DAD: Shut up, I'm not done talking to you.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 04:25 PM

These characters aren't from Warner Bros. If anything they're based on Disney characters...the pig is from the Three Little Pigs and Thumper from Bambi is the bunny. They're still adorable though!

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 04:44 PM

anyoen who thinks skinny arms aren't cute never saw Rex in Toy Story.

little gator
 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 05:32 PM

My god. It's a cute-spiracy.

Dickie - I get the fanny pack thing. Took a sec for me to put it together. Poor American tourists.

I have just realized that my guinea pigs are in fact totally neckless. I was going through the rules. They fall just short of cute though by drawing blood if I dare approach them sans lettuce. My rats have necks. They are somehow cuter.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:20 PM

*adores AuntieMame for the extended Cheech & Chong quote*

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:56 PM

Well, at least this manages to explains why I find the design of all these characters terrible and hideous (aside from the fact it's organic drawing): they do share some traits with babies...

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 08:58 PM

Umm... yes this is from Preston Blairs "original" publishing of the book... but it is NOT "warner bros"... Preston Blair worked for Disney for a while but mainly the pics on this page and the rest of the original book are from his time spent working with Tex Avery at MGM.

Anyone interested can find the entire book on John Kricfalusi's blogger where he haS been doing an online Animation Course from the original book.

LINK http://www.animationarchive.org/2006/05/meta-100000-animation-drawing-course.html

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 09:06 PM

staranela, I guess both of us are considered cute by those standards, well I don't have a high forehead, that's about it.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 11:41 PM

And this is from disney, the kitten is from aristocats if I'm not mistaken.

 |  Jul 17, 2006 at 11:43 PM

"Fanny Pack" makes you laugh;
"Spotted Dick" makes us rofl.

"Care for some SPotted DIck?"

 |  Jul 18, 2006 at 01:59 AM

Lol, good point about spotted dick XD

You don't know the torture I went through school with this name!

Dickie Twinkles
 |  Jul 18, 2006 at 03:29 AM

you could draw me based on that baby cartoon.

 |  Jul 18, 2006 at 05:20 AM

Disney = maudlin
CO = cute

 |  Jul 18, 2006 at 06:03 AM

"You don't know the torture I went through school with this name!"

Uh-huh. Sorry, I'm skeptical, this being the internet & all, where one can call oneself whatever one prefers. *I* think is you're putting us all on (or "having us all on," as you please).

That said, I'm prepared to believe that "Dickie Twinkles" really is your name (heck, I'm American; we're brought up to believe any number of ridiculous things)... but only after some earnest convincing. I mean, "Theo" really is my name, so I suppose it's possible.

 |  Jul 18, 2006 at 07:11 AM

I just wanted to use this post to ask a question I've had for some time... Who do you consider to be the cutest human character in animation? Any media - television, movies, video games, etc. - that use animation are permissible. And of course by "cute," I mean in the pure sense of cute to which this site is devoted...

My nomination goes to "Boo" from the Disney/Pixar movie Monsters Inc.

Robert M.
 |  Jul 18, 2006 at 07:24 AM

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