Doing Character Design and Tips On How To Design Characters
Character design is challenging.
It’s one thing to know how to draw characters, but creating your own is something else.
You need to understand the style they’ll fit into, who they are, what they’ll be doing, and what will simply look good.
It’s easy to say that you a certain character design from a movie, cartoon, or ad, but it’s another to learn how to design your character.
One of the most important elements of good character design is simplicity. Simple character design means that more time can be spent polishing the entire scene or drawing other frames of animation.
Think of Mickey Mouse’s three-fingered hands. That was a decision made to save production time, allowing more cartoons to be produced more quickly. It is now one of the Disney mascot’s most iconic features.
Of course, while simplicity is key, there’s more to designing characters than that. You need to figure out what should be exaggerated, what should be downplayed, which adds a sense of personality, and much more. Good character design is the result of hours of careful thought and multiple design iterations.
This is an intimidating task, especially if you’re just getting started. Here are some character design tips to help you create amazing characters for your project.
Character design tips (quick overview)
- Figure Out Your Target Audience
- Know Where the Character Will Appear
- Study Other Designs
- Make Your Character Unique
- Add Some Personality
- Use a Unique Body Shape
- Lines Have Meaning
- Utilize Exaggeration
- Use Color Wisely
- Accessorize Your Characters
- Remember to Keep It Simple
- Give Your Character Goals, Dreams, and Wants
- Create a Background for the Character
- Research Real Subjects
- Think Outside the Box
- Get Feedback from Other People
- Fine-Tune Every Aspect of Your Character Design
- Don’t lose the magic
Now let’s go through these character design tips in detail.
Figure Out Your Target Audience
At the beginning of your character design process, decide on who your character is trying to appeal to. Characters meant to appeal to small children, for instance, often have bright colors and are designed around the use of basic shapes.
If you’re designing characters for a client, often many elements are already decided. Understanding who your character’s target audience means that you can figure out how to design a character based on that audience’s tastes.
Are You Working in 2D or 3D?
From a technical standpoint, there’s a world of difference between 2D and 3D character design. Many of the principles are the same, but the effect of certain choices can be very, very different.
3D characters can be seen from all angles, so you’ll need to figure out what they look at when viewed from all around. You’ll need to have a very clear sense of the character’s height, weight, and shape.
2D characters can do all sorts of physically impossible things just based on how they’re drawn. 3D characters need to have a more realistic physicality to them. Tiny legs and a huge body are a lot harder to make look right in 3D animation.
That character will look like he should fall over if he tries to walk. Every movement of a 3D animated character requires a special rig to be built.
Details like hair, fur, and clothing need special consideration since they can be very hard to animate. Pixar considered the fur of Sully in Monsters, INC. to be a special achievement that many thoughts were impossible.
You should also be aware of the uncanny valley effect in 3D animation. Human faces in 3D animation can be very disturbing if not designed correctly. Horror films have used uncanny valley to great effect, and it can be something you can exploit if you’re trying to create a character that creeps people out.
Be careful of over-simplifying these 3D animated faces while trying to still make them look human. It is, in fact, possible to make people shiver when they see a 3D character blink.
Look into character design tutorials for 3D animation of human faces if you want to create approachable characters for that medium.
Know Where the Character Will Appear
Determine where the character design will show up and in what medium. Cartoon character design is very different from mobile game character design, for instance.
Mobile game characters won’t often need to have a lot of details since they will not be viewed that closely. A cartoon character design will need to be more clear and could need more details, depending on the kind of cartoon.
Study Other Designs
Take the time to figure out why some character design works and why others don’t work. Just take a look around.
You’ll find characters in all sorts of advertising for all sorts of products, company mascots, movie and show characters on clothing…there’s character designs everywhere. Many of them are good, but a quick look at children’s clothing, for instance, reveals some bad character design.
Study both the well-designed characters and the poorly designed ones. Figure out why they are appealing or unappealing. What do their physical traits or color choices say about who the character is? Why does that personality appeal to people or leave them cold? This will help you improve your character design ideas and skills.
Make Your Character Unique
Unique characters are quite difficult to create. There are thousands (if not millions) of iterations of any kind of character you can imagine. Just think of all the different cartoon dogs, robots, and monsters that you’ve seen. You’ll need to create a strong and interesting character design to have it stand out from the crowd.
Offer people something unique. Why do you think the Simpsons have yellow skin? It helps catch viewers’ attention when they’re flipping through channels, prompting them to pause and see what’s going on in the show.
You should do some research on the kind of character you’re designing before you finalize it. You may find that you’ve ended up accidentally copying a well-known character design and need to make some tweaks to create a truly unique character. Depending on how close the design is and who owns it, there is also the possibility of legal action.
Add Some Personality
While an interesting character design can make for some nice artwork, it isn’t enough. Work out a personality for your character. This is a great place to start, as the character personality often provides some great character design inspiration.
Make sure the character’s personality is at least as interesting as their appearance. It doesn’t have to be agreeable, but it does have to be interesting. A lot of the character’s personality will be revealed through reactions and interactions in animations and comic strips. It can also be shown simply in the way the character is drawn if this is a static mascot or something similar.
People connect to personalities even more than they connect to interesting visual designs. An interesting and coherent personality will help make your character matter to people. For instance, do you know someone who loves Eeyore?
How about Bugs Bunny? The amount of merchandise featuring these characters that are sold reveals that a lot of people care about these characters. The personalities of these characters are why they mean so much to these people.
Use a Unique Body Shape
One thing you can do to make a unique character is to make sure your design has a distinctive body shape. Your character’s body shape should help convey their personality. You should be able to pick their silhouette out of a lineup.
Body shapes, like an exaggeration, should help make it clear what a character does. Tall, muscular characters should be strong, and an agile character should be small and wiry.
You should also think about the species of your character. Science fictions stories often feature aliens and robots, and talking animals feature a lot in children’s cartoons. If your character is human or not make a big difference for a lot of character design choices. It might be intimidating, but it can also be a lot of fun. Determine early on what your character’s species is.
If you’re having trouble deciding on your character’s species, try and create your own or add in elements to help create a more personality-filled character. Try out both animal-like and human-like features.
Even if you’re drawing a horse, giving it eyebrows may better allow you to express its personality and emotions. That’s what they did for the animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
Horses don’t have eyebrows, but it was hard to create the right facial expressions with a more realistic looking horse character. This fantastical addition is a great solution if you’re stuck in a rut about how to better express your character.
An interesting trick to try is to draw the character’s heads separately from their body. Then draw three different body types on another piece of paper. Line up these body types with the original head design. Which one looks like the best fit and why? This can help you better understand what kind of body your character should have to best express their personality.
Lines Have Meaning
The kind of line you use to create your character design can say a lot about the kind of character people are looking at. For approachable and cute characters, try using combinations of thicker, softer, round, and even lines. Use more jagged and sharper lines to convey a more erratic and uneasy character.
A vital aspect for figuring out how to design characters is recognizing what you ought to misrepresent to best pass on who that character is an intrigue to your crowd. Character design is once in a while photorealistic however is rather a reflection of the genuine (or envisioned) thing. Outwardly passing on a sentiment of the’s character is a higher priority than totally precise life systems.
Embellishment accentuates character attributes. In case you’re attempting to pass on that a character is genuinely solid, give them outlandishly strong arms and wide shoulders. For an exceptionally a character who is virtuoso, give them insane Einstein hair, huge glasses, and white sterile jacket. These preposterous distortions permit individuals to in a flash know, in any event, one significant attribute of the character.
Use Color Wisely
Shading additionally does a great deal of work in imparting a’s character. Typically, individuals partner darker hues like dark, purple, and dim with terrible or if nothing else increasingly shadowy kinds of characters.
Lighter hues like pink, white, blue, and yellow are all the more regularly connected with heroes and unadulterated expectations. Striking red, yellow, and blue loan themselves to chivalry because of a great deal of utilization in comic books.
You can utilize an excessive amount of shading, notwithstanding. Hues should add to your’s character, not divert from it. The most famous character designs have just a couple of hues. Consider Scooby-Doo or Bugs Bunny.
They don’t have an enormous shading palette, however, they are effective designs that have stayed conspicuous for a considerable length of time. An excessive amount of shading befuddles watchers. They won’t realize where to look since there’s such a large number of focal points on your character design. Attempt to utilize three base hues with esteem minor departure from them when required.
Embellish Your Characters
Dress and props help make a character’s qualities and foundation clear. Utilizing regalia or uniform-like attire will uncover a character that has a bind to the calling that uniform is related to. This is likewise valid for social garments or things, similar to cowpoke caps or katanas. Little contacts like a facial scar can help arrange the feeling of who the character is pleasant.
Genuine individuals use things. A great deal of us have things that mean stuff to us. For what reason did you pick the keychain that you’re utilizing for your vehicle keys? For what reason is your preferred shirt your top pick? The things we use are an impression of our characters. It will make your characters increasingly trustworthy and relatable if they have things that issue to them and express ho they are, as well.
Remember to include outward appearances. Indeed, even unusual or extremely barbaric characters can have outward appearances. Outward appearances portray the character’s mentality about the circumstance.
You can have quieted or touchy appearances, contingent upon the character you’re managing, however, a dull impartial face once in a while makes for decent character design. In case you’re making a character for liveliness or funnies, you’ll need a feeling of their outward appearances in a wide scope of circumstances.
One approach to consider feelings is to sit before a mirror and express various feelings on your face. Give yourself what being miserable, being furious, being mindful, and being cheerful look like on a human face. You can likewise attempt to envision how your character responds to a specific circumstance and what their demeanor would resemble.
Concentrate on the temples, eyes, and mouth, since those are the most evident ways we show feeling. This can be a decent method to build up a superior comprehension of who your character is and how to pass on their emotions.
Make sure to Keep It Simple
As intricate as your character design may have gotten, recollect that individuals should have the option to separate it no problem at all. On the off chance that you can’t get over the shape of your character and their dress in ten strokes or less, you have to streamline your character design.
Remember that you and others may wind up drawing your character again and again later on. You may likewise be attracting them various postures and doing a wide range of various things. The character design ought to stay steady all through the entirety of this. An over-confused design makes this difficult to achieve.
Tattoos and intricately designed garments, while perhaps amusing to draw and unquestionably fascinating, will be difficult to draw accurately from all edges, so you might need to maintain a strategic distance from them on a character design that will be drawn again and again in a wide range of postures.
Give Your Character Goals, Dreams, and Wants
A character’s objectives are the main impetus behin their character. There ought to be something missing from your character’s life that gives some push behind their activities. Without objectives, what might cause your character to do anything by any means? This feeling of deficiency and even the defects made by it will likewise make the character design additionally fascinating.
Make a Background for the Character
If your character is going to stick in funnies and activity, you have to build up their backstory. A few inquiries you should pose to create backstory include:
- Where did this character originate from?
- How could they come to exist?
- Did anything intriguing occur from quite a while ago?
- Where do they live?
- What is their activity?
- Who are their folks?
- What is their preferred shading?
- What is their preferred nourishment?
The responses to these inquiries develop the strength of your characters, making them progressively authentic for your crowd. Indeed, even the most asinine realities, similar to the character’s preferred shading, can assist you with causing the character to appear to be increasingly similar to a genuine individual.
The appropriate responses can even influence the’s character. A character that experienced childhood in a desert will most likely have various inclinations and conduct than one who experienced childhood in a wilderness.
There should be a purpose behind why a character does what they do. Genuine individuals have purposes behind what they do. On the off chance that anecdotal ones do likewise, it makes them considerably more genuine to crowds.
If they don’t have strong explanations behind their choices, it will be baffling for individuals. Take a gander at what number of individuals get irritated by the strange choices made by characters on The Walking Dead.
Now and again, you’ll see that the backstory is more energizing or fascinating than the character’s present experiences. Do whatever it takes not to get excessively tangled up in building it. It’s an exceptionally simple activity and the outcome can here and there look more like the Star Wars prequels than J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion.
Research Real Subjects
Regardless of whether you’re drawing an incredible character, you should have the option to precisely pass on their physical characteristics. Can you truly make a creature look hairy? What do scales resemble? For human subjects, how does hair truly carry on in the breeze?
So some examination into what these subjects resemble in reality. Regardless of whether you’re drawing a vigorously adapted character, understanding how things act in reality can assist you with bettering inundate individuals in your reality and have confidence in your characters.
If things look wrong and (not intentionally) unnatural, it will be off-putting for crowds. Then again, smooth, right looking movement of even phenomenal things and activities is great. Study life systems, lighting, creatures, everything without exception that you intend to attract to make better character designs.
Consider some fresh possibilities
This stated, try! Follow a character design instructional exercise to become familiar with the essentials, yet as you do, attempt various things. Make a character who looks delicate and receptive however is precarious. Have a character whose response to all circumstances is a crazed grin. Once in a while, this will make an out of the blue fruitful character design.
Get Feedback from Other People
When you have a few minor departures from your character design, demonstrate it to other people and ask them what they think. You ought to pose a larger number of inquiries than whether they like the character design. Ask them what they think this present individual’s character resembles. Check whether they can make sense of a portion of their qualities.
Keep away from simply asking loved ones. They realize you well and will know how you think. You most likely mentioned to them what you were going for as you were designing the character.
Ask individuals who haven’t been hearing your contemplations all through your character design. If they’re seeing the design just because, you’ll show signs of improvement feeling of how the character will be seen by a group of people.
Adjust Every Aspect of Your Character Design
Regardless of how basic your character design is, question each decision you’ve made. Indeed, this is considerably progressively significant for straightforward character designs because these characters as of now have not many highlights.
Watch that all the highlights are clear and the lines are spotless. You ought to likewise settle on which parts of the character are effectively misrepresented and which should be made light of. Each element ought to be thoroughly considered, regardless of how little it appears.
Try not to lose the enchantment
Ensure you don’t clean all the appeal from your characters
Many character designers will begin their undertaking with a sketch. What’s more, most concur designers concur this is frequently where the quintessence of the character is caught. So when you’re stirring up your design, ensure you don’t lose that enchantment.
«I attempt to adhere to my unique drawing style because nature is to attempt to tidy it up,» says Laurie Rowan. «I don’t prefer to feel like I’ve made my characters; I like to feel like I’ve sort of just experienced them.»
«When beginning on your character design, don’t become involved with the subtleties,» says Pernille Ørum. «Choose what you’re attempting to convey, at that point make free portrays with development, acting, and stream. When you begin to take care of the drawing, you’ll naturally lose a portion of the dynamic, so it’s imperative to have however much life in the beginning periods as could reasonably be expected. Development is everything except difficult to include later, so ensure it’s
I’m not catching it’s meaning to design a character?
Understanding the basics of good character design is critical to fruitful representations. Everything about your character ought to be wanted to have the best impact and make the most intrigue. Extraordinary character design isn’t arbitrary or karma, yet rather is the final product of good character design forms and a ton of work.
What amount does a character designer make a year?
The national normal compensation for a Character Designer is $74,411 in the United States. This being normal, a Character Designer’s compensation could change starting with one state then onto the next.
What do you do as a character designer?
A Character Designer makes the look and feel of vivified characters. Character Designers are just found in those situations where characters are mind-boggling and sufficiently significant to merit legitimate consideration.
A Character Designer is employed to mix abilities from across fields to make vivacious, balanced characters. If you need to turn into a character designer, you will work predominantly on computer games, movement, and outline.
At this position, you are a cross-breed between a few design positions. You are an Illustrator, Concept Artist, Animator, and Game Artist implying that you design your characters, breathe life into them, at that point tissue out their look.