The Science of Cute — Applied to Illustrations and Mascots

Humans have an innate sense of “cute”. Understanding this seemingly abstract concept of cute is hardwired into our minds. Primarily cuteness suggests youth.

A round head with low set eyes, blunt and chubby limbs, roundness…most artists can employ these features instinctively to achieve a level of cuteness in a character.

Humans are particularly attracted to cuteness because we are the ultimate nurturers of all breathing creatures. Our instinct does not stop with our own children, but our sense of cute extends even to the animal world. Without a doubt, human beings are the most qualified “care takers” on this planet.

Ultimately, a cute creature will be more likely to be cared for by its parent, ensuring its survival. Cute has a very practical place in nature.

Cute Illustrations

In my own illustrations I’ve sought to achieve a good balance between cute and professional. This is a very hard thing to do sometimes. Too cute just can’t be taken seriously. Too professional is boring. If I had my way, I’d probably be making more story-book style cuteness, but due to the nature of my field (Stock Illustration) I am forced to calculate my approach more carefully.

I have three main series that employ the “cute factor”.

Orange Man

The Orange Man was my first to do this, and I cannot seem to top this one. It is simply an inflated stick figure redrawn into many many different situations. He is popular and successful because of his complimentary qualities of abstractness and simplicity.

AO-Maru Robot

Created for Techies, he is rather clumsy and bulbous, bearing slight features of a toddler. Still, he bears a certain sophistication with his blue stripes and technologically advanced look which is a balance of modern day and 60’s style technology.

Human Factor (Krinkle’s People).

These were created for my wife. She is the ultimate fan of “cute characters” and I made these for her primarily. Knowing three languages and loving culture, she assigns me the majority of assignments in creating these characters. She writes the descriptions on their product pages, She is bringing our illustrations to french and spanish speaking audiences.

These are my favorites, but not very well known. They have the blunt features of the orange man, but more extreme. They have the same eyes as AO-Maru. I do not expect they will become very popular until a while longer. Due to effects of globalization and more people having access to professional resources such as stock illustration, I expect this series which specializes in racial diversity has yet to see its day in fame. I continue to invest time in the growing of this illustration series.

Are you a fan of “cute”? Keep in touch. Cute is what we draw best.