The Animatress Pipeline

Filmmaking Adventures

Designing Non-Offensive Black Characters

In comedy, it is a rule that the character is supposed to look somewhat ridiculous. However, it’s an artist responsibility to produce designs with some humility or prepare to whether public outcry for their actions.

It’s a pet peeve of mine when I see a Black character with light colored lips against dark skin. Sure it exists to a small degree is Blacks, but still it isn’t considered attractive. The response I got from a friend of mine is that it best for contrast.
No it isn’t. It’s just ugly. Should I design all white people with pink noses and hair all over their bodies just because that exists in small number of caucasians? No! Why accent the worst aspects in people?

Anyhoo, to give designers the benefit of the doubt of not knowing any better. I’ve compiled a few solutions on how to draw a full mouth on a Black character in a pleasing way. I hope these solutions appear is future designs in TV shows in the near future.

Billy Joe Jive from good ol’ Sesame Street
Here the deisgner made the lips the same color as the rest the face on the Black characters. All the ethnicities are well deigned in this series. The 70’s was a golden age for independent animation filmmakers. Thank you PBS.

This production designer went on to make the great multi-cultural awareness series Vegetable Soup.

Just for the record, the little girl doesn’t say: “Stick of Buttah.” She says, “Stick of buttlerl, like most little kids who have trouble pronouncing their “R’s”.

My scanner is on the fritz, so I can’t gather more.. However, please explore these great artist and they’re books for further reference.

Lloyd Alexander and Trina Shart Hyman
The Fortune Tellers

Leo and Dianne Dillion

Ashanti to Zulu


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