From Analog to Virtual: Visual Stylizations of Humanoid Characters Across Media


  • Terry Lucas Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak


animation, avatar, character design, digital human, moderate aesthetic formalism, new media, visual style


Visual stylization and its impact on different aspects of the perception of digital human beings are commonly debated. This study investigated how fictional and non-fictional characters are represented in various media from the perspective of digital humanoid character design. Based on Zangwill's theory of Moderate Aesthetic Formalism, this study focused on the formalistic aspect of visual analysis and interpretation of media artifacts ranging from older media such as paintings to newer media, such as animations, interactive video games and mobile apps. This paper also explores several case studies of how humanoid digital characters are represented via visual stylizations across different media. This article underlines the importance of visual stylization as an opportunity to find unique and innovative ways of communicating with visual means.

Author Biography

Terry Lucas, Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak

Terry Lucas graduated with a background in BSc, Information Technology (Arts) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and MSc, Digital Imaging and Design from New York University. Currently, he is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Art & Design, Universiti Teknologi MARA. He is a lecturer in the Design Technology (with specialization in Animation) program at the Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. His research interests are in instructional animation, educational animation, cognitive aspects of visual information comprehension, and dynamic visualizations. His research interests are in instructional animation, dynamic visualizations and cognitive aspects of visual information comprehension. He is also interested to collaborate in projects that focus on the potential applications of animation for edutainment purposes such as video, film, games, interactive multimedia, mobile apps, websites, and other forms of new media such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality.


Kalmakurki, M., Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty: The Components of Costume Design in Disney's Early Hand-Drawn Animated Feature Films, Animation, 13(1), pp. 7-19, 2018.

Lucas, T. & Abd Rahim, R., The Similarities and Nuances of Explicit Design Characteristics of Well-received Online Instructional Animations, Animation, 12(1), pp. 80-99, 2017.

Perani, D., Fazio, F., Borghese, N.A., Tettamanti, M., Ferrari, S., Decety, J., & Gilardi, M.C., Different Brain Correlates for Watching Real and Virtual Hand Actions, Neuroimage, 14, pp. 749-758, 2001.

Scheiter, K., Gerjets, P., Huk, T., Imhof, B., & Kammerer, Y., The Effects of Realism in Learning with Dynamic Visualizations, Learning & Instruction, 19(6), pp. 481-494, 2009.

Rodrigues, S.T., Ferracioli, M.C., & Denardi, R.A., Learning a Complex Motor Skill from Video and Point-light Demonstrations, Perceptual and Motor Skills, 111(2), pp. 307-323, 2010.

Imhof, B., Scheiter, K., & Gerjets, P., Learning about Locomotion Patterns from Visualizations: Effects of Presentation Format and Realism, Computers and Education, 57(3), pp. 1961-1970, 2011.

Ida, H., Fukuhara, K. & Ishii, M., Recognition of Tennis Serve Performed by A Digital Player: Comparison Among Polygon, Shadow, and Stick-Figure Models, PLoS One, 7(3), pp. 3-9, 2012.

Brucker, B., Scheiter, K., & Gerjets, P., Learning with Dynamic and Static Visualizations: Realistic Details only Benefit Learners with High Visuospatial Abilities, Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 2014, pp. 330-339, 2014.

Barnes, S., Studies in the Efficacy of Motion Graphics: How the Presentation of Complex Animation Implicates Exposition, Animation, 11(2), pp. 146-168, 2016.

Zangwill, N., Aesthetic Creation, ed. 1. Oxford University Press, 2007.

Watson, G., Butterfield, J., Curran, R., & Craig, C., Do Dynamic Work Instructions Provide an Advantage Over Static Instructions in A Small Scale Assembly Task?, Learning & Instruction, 20(1), pp. 84-93, 2010.

Cocchiarella, L., The Visual Language of Technique between Science and Art, In the Visual Language of Technique, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp. 11-30, 2015.

Ocvirk, O.G., Stinson, R.E., Wigg, P.R., Bone, R.O., & Cayton, D.L., Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice, ed. 11, Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2009.

Fichner-Rathus, L., Foundations of Art & Design, ed. 2, Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012.

Kress, G. & Van Leeuwen, T., Modality: Designing Models of Reality, in Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design, ed. 2, New York, NY: Routledge, 2006, pp. 154-174.

Power, P., Animated Expressions: Expressive Style in 3D Computer Graphic Narrative Animation, Animation, 4(2), pp. 107-129, 2009.

Barrett, T., Interpretation and Appreciation: Abstract Painting, in Interpreting Art: Reflecting, Wondering, and Responding, New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2003, pp. 87-110.

Frank, P.L., Preble's Artform: An Introduction to the Visual Arts, ed. 9. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2009.

Hodgkinson, G., The Seduction of Realism, in ACM SIGGRAPH ASIA 2009 Educators Program, pp. 2-5, 2009.

Torre, D., Cognitive Animation Theory: A Process-Based Reading of Animation and Human Cognition, Animation, 9(1), pp. 47-64, 2014.

Moen, K., "This New Mode of Expression': The Idea of Animation in 1930s France, Animation, 8(1), pp. 7-21, 2013.

Jones, N., Quantification and Substitution: The Abstract Space of Virtual Cinematography, Animation, 8(3), pp. 253-266, 2013.

McDonnell, R., Breidt, M., & B1/4lthoff, H.H., Render Me Real? Investigating the Effect of Render Style on The Perception of Animated Virtual Humans, ACM Trans. Graph., 31(4), pp. 1-11, 2012.

Power, P., Character Animation and the Embodied Mind-Brain, Animation, 3(1), pp. 25-48, 2008.

Martino, S., Charlie Brown's Journey to 3D, 3D World, 204, Bath, UK, p. 26, 2016.

Lucas, T., Exploring the Effect of Realism at the Cognitive Stage of Complex Motor Skill Learning, E-Learning and Digital Media, 16(4), pp. 242-266, 2019.

Kim, B.K., Choi, J., & Wakslak, C.J., The Image Realism Effect: The Effect of Unrealistic Product Images in Advertising, Journal of Advertising, 48(3), pp. 251-270, 2019.