Did I say that word enough? I think even the ugliest of characters can be made appealing by the way he treats his emotions, especially the heartfelt ones: sadness, empathy, pity, understanding, joy and love.
Personally, I think Stitch is pretty unappealing design in itself. He does have the big eyes going for him, but it’s how he uses his emotions that makes him super appealing. Side bar – that is a very hard thing to do with aliens, by the way. We humans are used to seeing things a certain way. We know that babies of nearly every creature are cute. Making something from out of our realm cute is pretty daunting.
Ok, I’m back. Having the character show these heartfelt emotions can turn the audience’s stomach back to normal after making them flip because of an ugly design. Empathy cures all wounds. Show the character doing something caring and that he believes it is the right thing to do and you will win them over.
But what if that character doesn’t have any heartfelt emotional moments? How do I make him appealing then? Well, that’s a bit tougher for sure. Comedy can come to the rescue. Everyone likes a clown even though they are pretty creepy. I think the ability for an unappealing character to pull out a laugh is very similar to pulling out empathy. In both instances, you like this character and are therefore drawn to him, thus making him appealing.
That’s all fine and good but what if the character doesn’t have any heartfelt moments and isn’t a comedian?
Well, guess what? He’s the villain and he shouldn’t be appealing. Make him as ugly as you can get!