Continued from The Context.

The History

We explore the history of a character to further its existence in its context. We outline the world in which a character exists, where the character comes from in that world, and its life-changing experiences that help support the authenticity of, and subsequent belief in, the character in its story. We examine dependencies between a character and its story, and see that the driving force behind a character is demonstrated in the aim of its action. We see that character flaws are often what make a character appealing; the discovery of incompleteness, or of goals, helps to create the dramatic thrust behind the adventures that a character embarks upon. Character is a measurable journey; we can measure a character's sacrifice at the end by a choice at the beginning. And we want a character in a story to appear to exist outside of the time present in story.

a/ Up. (2009) Pixar.

The story of Up (2009), another by Pete Docter, has a great example of a character arc overlaid on its plot: the inner journey of Carl Fredricksen is layered within major plot points, and by hinging internal conflicts on external decisions its story forces the character to grow.

© PIXAR, The Art of Up (2009) | Carl Fredricksen timeline

Author: Dane Aleksander, computer animator and CDO at Animat Habitat · graphic artist in Halifax, Canada.


Animat Habitat studium is published in part for all students of animation, and to advance the craft of wildlife visual effects for interactive multimedia and motion pictures. For a studio workshop or scheduled program, please contact: inbox [at]

* Curriculum is in development.