Watched Monsters Vs Aliens recently. I don't know why, but something about the main character is very unappealing to me. And even worse, now I can't go back and watch other CG humans like Ratatouille or Incredibles. Something about the sub-surface scattering and the bulbous shapes is just turning me off. Maybe it's because they're modeled to looks soft but then the skin never deforms when it touches things (unless they're really paying attention.) They look like playdough, or dolls, Susan especially looks like a Bratz doll.
(look at her hands resting on her pants, looks like plastic, real life the flesh would smoosh on the meat of the palm as it rests, etc.)
Not to dis the artists, it's all technical feats, brilliants modelers, textureres, riggers, animators, all that. But what's the point? Even subtle exaggeration like this is chasing reality, but if we achieve it, enough controls to mimic every muscle fiber pulling every pore fighting gravity pulling on layers of fat, it's gonna take prohibitive amount of time to animate it.
The characters that I did really like, relooking at all of these, where the more exaggerated ones, the ones more extreme, they could push the faces further and just more extreme overall. If we respond to people more the more we can read emotions in their face (which is why people seem like jerks once they get botoxed) then these exaggeratted faces are like anti botox.
(that middle one is from Escape of the Gingerbread Man made by Tod Polson and Monk Studios)
and then, why even go that realistic. (for us little guys doing it on our own) we can get appealing characters and with enough control to create emotional connection with simpler designs. Clam shell eyes. Like Keith Lango talks about (in his fool's errand posts), there's just not enough hours available to you working on your own, you may have the skills, but there's just not the time to create at the level of the big studios. So prioritize what's important to you (to me, it's more important to have a character you can believe is thinking then to have fancy sub surface scattering)
(check out Vitor Vilela's reel, pretty sweet!)