Do you think it's kinda weird that even though the characters in Villainous don't TECHNICALLY have good designs, while that kind of thing destroys other cartoons, in this one, it seems to work in its favor? Like, they look ridiculous, over the top, and crazy, but that feels like exactly what they're supposed to look like.
oh sweetheart let me tell you a little secret
the people who genuinely think the Villainous character designs are bad don’t know a damn thing about designing characters for animation
STRAP IN FOLKS IT’S TIME FOR ANOTHER
RANT LESSON ABOUT ANIMATION CHARACTER DESIGN WITH NOVA (brought to you by SCAD: “I pay $35,000 a year to learn how to make cartoons so trust me I know what I’m talking about”)
The first thing any character design class (including the one I took) will teach you is “have a strong silhouette”
You can probably recognize almost if not every single one of these characters just from their outlines! So let’s take a look at the silhouettes of the Villainous cast…
HOLY SMOKES THEY ARE HELLA DISTINCTIVE!!! And here we even see what is probably the design reason for Dr. Flug’s paper bag and Demencia’s huge fluffy ponytail - they add to the strength of their silhouettes immensely.
Now let’s examine both the shape language of the characters AND how they’re likely divided in terms of their digital puppet rigs (as Villainous appears to use both the hand drawn and rigging techniques), because the former is the second thing any character design class will teach you and the latter is incredibly important to the modern digital 2D animation process. (Apologies if my rig estimates are off, I haven’t had as much experience with 2D rigging as I have with hand drawn.)
Black Hat has the most variety out of the cast, but broken up he’s really just a combination of rectangles, triangles and one or two circles. His hat is also kind of a shape in and of itself, one that comes very naturally when drawing his head. Like a lot of villain characters his sharpness is highly emphasized.
Dr. Flug is ALL about squares and skinny rectangles, with his only rounded shapes being his eyes and shoes. Normally when you see boxy characters they’re on the very masculine or muscular side, meant to seem strong or imposing, but Flug is a wimpy, scrawny twig. That’s really unorthodox and something I like a lot about his look.
What’s super interesting about Demencia is that next to 5.0.5, she has the most circles and rounded shapes. Sharpness is added in her details which makes her design look a lot more complex than it really is. What’s great about digital animation and 2D rigging is it makes characters who have a lot of specific details like her much simpler to animate, so she really isn’t impractical at all provided you’re animating her using a computer.
And finally we have
Beariplier Markibear 5.0.5, who I’m sure surprises no one by being a big old round baby full of circles. His nose and snout are of course triangles though. I like how he’s the most intentionally simple out of the cast, even going so far as to have a different eye style that almost makes him look like something out of an ultra-cutesy anime. He doesn’t fit in with and stands out a lot from the others, which is entirely the point.
To sum up, the Villainous characters are both simple enough to animate on a budget/deadline and interesting looking enough to want to watch, the perfect combination for modern 2D digital TV animation. These designs were MADE for a 2017 Cartoon Network show in every sense, with just enough early 2000s influence to feel fresh and new as well as classic and nostalgic. I want these guys to represent and become iconic of CN the same way Finn, Jake, Mordecai and Rigby have.