Life Drawing Week 10 Assignment: Character Design, Br’er Rabbit.

27|05|2017

For our task as part of life drawing, we’ve been asked to design and illustrate our understanding of the 12 principles of animation through a character. Focusing mainly on the principle of “Appeal”. In my understanding, the appeal is to an animated character what charisma is to an actor displaying a personality on screen. It does not mean likeability in a singular dimensional sense, as Villians and monsters can have appeal. It is the charm that the character displays through its movement, poses and body language. It is the symmetrical and aesthetic elements of design that make characters pleasing to look at and enjoy.

The character I’ve decided to design (or rather re-design) is Brer Rabbit! I originally wanted to do Peter Rabbit as he’s a favourite, but his illustrated designs are already so lovely there’s no point trying to fix what isn’t broken! Brer Rabbit, however, despite being a fairly well-known character in popular culture, hasn’t really been reproduced in a way that does him much justice. (That is, with the exception Song of the South which is a less-than-honourable mention seeing as it has been disputed as explicitly racist.) I’ve always had my own idea of this character and I’ve been interested in re-designing him for some time now!

Brer Rabbit is the main character from the Uncle Remus’ tales of the Southern United States. He was most famously reproduced in Enid Blyton’s stories, such as The O’Clock Tales. Vogler also mentioned Brer Rabbit as being that of a historical “trickster” character in literature.

The plots involving Brer Rabbit usually surround him outwitting Brer Fox or his other Brer companions. What I’ve always found interesting about the character is that he’s not necessarily a nice or admirable one, he’s actually quite sly and mean. An interesting take on the personification of a rabbit in popular literature. Particularly when it comes with a relationship to a fox. It toys with the “dumb bunny” “sly fox” stereotype (Zootropolis also does this!) by making the fox the brunt of the jokes rather than the rabbit!

Also on the topic of Zootopia and Disney Racism, here’s an article about Song of The South that I found pretty interesting! There’s lots of content like this because there’s LOTS of racism in cartoons of this time.

According to wikipedia, the characterisation of Br’er Rabbit also ties into cultural roots surrounding the civil rights movement, and other interesting social factors of Southern America. It’s a shame that Disney took this and turned it into blatant black stereotyping and Racism, so I want to incorporate all these things into my Brer Rabbit designs while attempting to be progressive and tasteful!

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Br’er Rabbit Original Illustration (1906) Harry Rountree

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Brer Rabbit as depicted in Disney’s Song of The South (1949)

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Br’er Rabbit’s Original Illustration  (1906) Harry Rountreebrers_by_dodgyrommer-d7lqkjp

Brer Rabbit as depicted in Disney’s Song of The South (1949)

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