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The "Uncanny Valley" in artwork

The theory to employ either simplicity or anatomically correct detail in artwork.

I once read an article describing the human tendancy to find the most emotional connection with things which either exactly resemble us, or which have less human likeness and are simpler in design. A happy face, for example, is seen as cute or at least as an aesthetically acceptable symbol of that emotion, much as is a sad face. And with a person with genuine sadness on his or her face, many of us feel sympathy for him or her. But that which resembles a human, but not quite exactly, is often seen as disturbing, and much of the emotional connection is lost. Androids which very closely resemble humans have been shown to be more disturbing to us than androids like those in irobot, according to this theory. When mapped on a chart, this region of disgust for that which only closely resembles us is termed "the uncanny valley." To site credit where it's due, research on this subject was performed by Karl F. MacDorman and Hiroshi Ishiguro.

This said, I see a comparison with hentai artwork. Simplicity in character design makes for a more aesthetically pleasing image. Furries which retain the animal quality in just the right ratio may be more pleasing to the eye than furries which very closely resemble humans. However, if the artist is talented enough, great detail in shading and character design is also very pleasing to the eye. It is the artwork pieces which try to look realistic yet fall just short which are the least pleasing.

I write this because I think that this theory of simplcity in artwork is what attributes the large fanbase to Sonic and Pony pics. The ponies are so cute and appealing because they are fairly easy to draw and simple in design. Sonic art is the same. My Sonic pics tend to be more popular than pics of other characters. The talented draw their high detail, realistic pieces very well, but oftentimes when others try to imitate this style it falls short and is seen as more ugly than if it had been drawn simplier. In my own experience, adding certain muscular curves to a woman's body in a pic lowers the appeal than if they had been left out altogether, however, if the curves are added just right and to the correct extent, it can also greatly improve the quality of the image.

The wikipedia article on the uncanny valley can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley
Viewed: 37 times
Added: 7 years, 9 months ago
7 years, 9 months ago
I doubt that an "uncanny valley" actually operates on a sliding scale of familiarity.
I suspect it's actually the result of an inconsistency in what something is portraying.
If some parts seem realistic, but other parts don't, the image is confusing and uncomfortable.

I see a similar parallel with characters whose gender isn't obvious.
More-so when they're supposedly one gender, but strongly appear the opposite.
The stronger the contrast, the more obvious the inconsistency. becomes because the contradicting visual cues are more pronounced.
Therefore, androgynous characters theoretically aren't as jarring as men in makeup.

In a nutshell, the "Uncanny Valley" could be defined as a blatantly inconsistent style.
Realism is just one of many styles.
7 years, 9 months ago
I have other theories as to why Sonic fanart is so widely appealing.
The sonic visual style is well-known and tends to be pretty consistent, but I'm not so sure the "uncanny valley" is the main factor.

I suspect that it's the proportions.
My theory is that the shortened torso makes the legs seem longer, makes heads and breasts seem bigger, and exaggerates the curves of the back and hips.
The characters tend to be about 2 to 4 heads tall.
Larger heads may seem more expressive since the face takes up a larger area of a drawing, thus becoming more of a focal point.
Compare this with this.
7 years, 9 months ago
The main point I was making is that adding too much detail to any picture will be less appealing than either going all out on anatomically correct detail, or just keeping the art simple. Other than that, I was mainly explaining the uncanny valley as explained in literature, which I think is a bit extreme of a view. Someone on FA interpreted my description of "less appealing" as actually invoking a feeling of grossness to the viewer. I am not trying to say this, but rather that it is simply less aesthetically pleasing, or "hot" when discussing hentai or rule 34 works.

Of course not all Sonic art is appealing to viewers, about half actually look like crap. I agree proportionality is a big issue, based on preconceived notions of "cuteness" and resemblance to official design.

You mentioned that you "suspect it's actually the result of an inconsistency in what something is portraying. If some parts seem realistic, but other parts don't, the image is confusing and uncomfortable." I was reminded of a pic of American Dad on Paheal, which has realistic bodies yet the toonish faces, and I think you're on to something there.
7 years, 9 months ago
That reminds me of a picture of Homer Simpson I found.
So I just now went to look for it and noticed something else.
Compare this with this.
Both are inconsistant overall, but the second picture is far more unsettling.
As far as I can tell, the reason is because, in the first picture, the contrasts are distinctly separated.
Different parts of his face are either very toony, or very realistic.
But in the second picture, the eyes are both realistic and toony at the same time.
Perhaps because the shapes are realistic, but exaggerated in unrealistic ways, thus looking like something real but mutilated.
So perhaps exaggerations that imply some degree of mutilation or deformity create the "uncanny valley."
If that's the case, then the phenomenon might be kind of like when you see certain handicapped people whose faces or heads have an odd shape.
7 years, 9 months ago
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