Tom Oreb and Ed Benidect were both great character designers who worked at different ends of the spectrum but were forging a common, distinctive aesthetic during much of the 50s, Tom at Disney and Ed at Hanna-Barbara (this is far better outlined in Amid Amidi’s amazing book, Cartoon Modern ). Both strived to give their character designs a mix of angularity and roundness which made for striking combination of shapes that often trumped the resulting animation. They were both superior draughtsman who knew how to create simple, pleasing characters with charm to spare. (Tom Oreb’s redesigned Mickey Mouse for an TV ad never saw the light of day, but it has so much more character than many of latter day model versions of Mickey. Again, check out Cartoon Modern to see the model sheet.)
I bring theses two designers up because their designs are always inspiring to look at. I feel my own characters are the most successful when they are built from angles and curves rather than one or the other.
Growing up in the 70s and 80s I was exposed to a lot of Hanna-Barbara programming as were most people my age, some bad, much of it good, like the Flintstones, a staple of my after school cartoon viewing. Although I didn’t know who Ed Benedict was at the time, his designs made a huge impression, and like the cartoons of MAD artist Don Martin, influenced the way I would draw for the rest of my life.
All of the following illustrations are courtesy Amid’s wonderful Cartoon Modern. If you haven’t checked it out yet, go there NOW! It’s a great companion to the book.