I'm beginning my research by investigating the general application of anthropomorphism in popular culture.
Anthropomorphism is defined as,
"The attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to a god, animal, or object"
As defined above, the word applies to both animals and objects, so I have gathered examples of both, as found throughout television and film.
Examples of Animals with Human Characteristics
The ways in which animals and objects become anthropomorphised varies dramatically between each of the examples.
The change can be subtle, with the animal or object retaining it's physical attributes, but inheriting a human personality, as seen in the case of Luxo Jr. In other cases, the change can be drastic, with the character becoming more human than animal or object. Examples of this can be seen with Lion-O in ThunderCats and B1 and B2 from Banana's in Pyjamas. The transformation from their initial forms is considerably more human than their original form would ever normally allow (Walking, talking bananas. Really?).
When it comes to creating and developing my own characters, I've got a couple of choices to make before I can get anywhere. Will my characters be animals or objects that inherit human personality traits and characteristics? How dramatic will their transformation be? Will they be more humanoid than animal/object? How well will the source animal/object fit in a Western-themed scenario?