A character designer's career is probably the most sought-after among artists that work in the entertainment industry like animation or video game development. It isn't, however, as easy as it seems at first glance, so knowing what makes characters appealing to viewers is an essential skill for a character designer.
The process of character design is more complicated than it seems to on the surface. Designs are often made from scratch, and they go through multiple iterations and the designs change many times during the process. Sometimes a character meant to be a sidekick shines even brighter than the main character, so they are swapped, or the story designers change the plans instead.
Fortunately, this course is meant to provide the basics of how you can start the character design process and what things to remember during the design. This lesson goes over the tips to make your character memorable and most of all appealing to the viewer.
Before grabbing the pen, a successful character needs background work. Define the audience and get to know what they like. Come up with a backstory for the character that pushes forward the visual elements and studying other successful characters is beneficial to learn what makes them so popular. And certainly, don't forget to ask for feedback.
Horror isn't a very good theme for kindergarteners, right? Get to know your target group and the elements that appeal to them. Small children are easy to attract with clear and blocky colors and simple shapes whereas an older audience's interests can vary from pastel colors to thrillers.
If you are unfamiliar with the chosen theme or genre, do some research on its basic characteristic features and the reasons behind the audience's interest in it.
Every one of us has a background that often defines our goals in life. The same also applies to fictional characters. What is the character's history, and what is their driving force?
A simple way to start the design process is to define the theme, be it sci-fi, apocalyptic world, or adventure. The next big step is to decide how the character fits into that world and their motives and goals.
Study other artists' characters, especially at the start of your process. Make notes on how the characters are built and what makes them distinguishable from others.
There's no lack of research material. Take a look at how iconic characters, such as Nintendo’s Mario and Marvel’s Spider Man, have managed to become successful. Do they have something in common?
Based on the research, you can define what makes a character unique. Try out new things and explore possible features if they can be mixed. Everything is permitted.
Collect feedback every step of the way, from rough sketches to final products. It's good to show your work to others, as humans are easy to fell into a pipe vision and not seeing things from afar anymore. Stepping away for a moment and discussing with others will clear up cluttered thoughts and give ideas that you may have not realized before.
Prepare to finetune your work. The best ideas might come later during the process, but luckily for digital art, it's easy to make changes and add new concepts.
Coming up with a character design can seem at first an easy task. However, it actually takes time and careful planning. Artists aim to make their characters rememberable to a large audience and recognizable even from their silhouette.
Colors, clothes, and accessories tell their own stories about the character and exaggerating features relay personality traits. Check out the flashcards below to learn more.
Don't worry if you are just starting with character design, it takes time and practice. The professional character artists have spent years perfecting their skills. We all start from somewhere, and you have just taken your first steps towards mastery!
Next up, references.