DM7900 Digital Media Practice 

My project was Character development for Emotional Assertiveness International a company owned by John Parr Msc.


The brief for the Emotional Assertiveness course was that it needed to use characters to help children with expressions of their emotions. The Disney movie' Inside Out'1 illustrates the theory behind some of John Parrs work. Disney consulted Paul Eckman to help with the characters narrative2 the Inside Out movie was storyboarded for a period of approximately 2-3 years before production. The characters were made real by their back story, the psychology of their condition. 


John Parr references Ekman’s work on microexpressions and how the face tells all – there are seven emotions to consider (Paul Eckman, 1976): Happy, Anger, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Contempt and Surprise. Some of these expressions also have ‘authentic and in-authentic expressions’ (J. Parr). By developing the EAI characters I used a lot of former knowledge of psychology and the clients previous work, I expressed this subconsciously into my design, because I understood my clients needs and tried to deliver a new approach for this project.


The more I looked into the character development, it made me look to our societal use of imagery to give hints or clues at how we are feeling, the rise of the emoji is the perfect example. Social media platforms and text speak has provided more ways to communicate, and with this language it has developed into a cultural expression. Scott Riley in his book 'Mindful Design'3, speaks of an Iconic Abstraction Scale and cites Scott McClouds work in Understanding Comics that “the more Iconic the image is without losing its meaning, the higher chance that we’ll apply it to some of our self” (Riley, S. 2019 .p34). 


Abstraction requires a collective memory of the item being referenced, familiarity with what we all come into contact with. A emoji can be submitted to the Unicode consortium4 for approval. “the proposed emoji must also have evidence of high-frequency use in that existing system”.

My example below shows emoji and my character development for EAI:


The EAI Training has been tested in a few Australian high schools (2020) by the EAI representative, it has gone to at least 490 students and executive teachers, all of whom have fed back how good the program was and how appealing the character designs were.

(Insert smilie face emoji here [ ] )


  1. 2015 Pixar Animation Studios

  2. Paul Eckman. ref:

  3. Riley S. (2019) Attention and Distraction. In: Mindful Design. Apress, Berkeley, CA.


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