Semiology* and Physiognomy**, of the graphic characteristics of the characters

A visual can be more than just pleasing or unpleasant to the eye. The way humans interpret visual characteristics can affect the way we feel about something, and how we perceive the world around us. Disney and its well known cast of characters is a perfect example of how colors, shape and intent can create a visual which impacts more than just the image you see on screen.


I chose Disney because their movies and graphics have influenced people almost universally. We all grew up with them, new generations keep watching them, and all the classics are turned into vibrant live-action adaptations in the theater. They are simple stories, made for kids to clearly distinguish between the good and the bad, the heroes and the villains. But what if we stripped away the catchy songs, the wacky sounds, and focused solely on the visuals, with no context? Simply viewing images of Snow White, Rapunzel, or Ursula gives us insight into their personalities and influences our social behaviors and interactions.


By solely examining physical attributes such as hair length, posture, and body type, we can characterize the personality types of Disney characters based on the socially accepted norms of the era. Throughout the years, the way to represent respectable women, silly girls, or an evil stepmother has changed drastically—but some things not so much. Disney has been around for 95 years and has mastered the art of communicating subtle messages that influence us subconsciously– They have shown the true power of Art Direction.

*Semiology: the study of signs.

**Physiognomy: Assessment of a person's character or personality from his outer appearance, especially the face.