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Best Tips For Character Design

Character design can sometimes come off as a form of artistry that needs badass potentials to master. While it may seem difficult to tackle, it is a branch of creative arts that is quite fun and thrilling. Here’s why. When engaging in character design, you are basically taking an originative dive into the unknown. You are surfing the depth of your imaginations to pull out the best design and body features that fit the characters personality. It’s like giving birth to a whole new life and person. To help you through the hurdles and give you the mastery you desire, discussed below are best tips you would find useful.

1) Be A Good Story Teller:

This basically translates to giving your character some personality. No one wants to watch a plain or a bland character. Try digging into the history of your character, what is he about? what is his demeanor? What are his interests? Questions like this should fuel your creativity in delivering a masterpiece. This brings to mind “the life and times of Juniper Lee” an American animated TV series that ran from 2005 to 2007. The lead character was an 11-year-old girl who had abilities to fight the forces of evil and curses. To harmonize with her friendly yet tough personality, the character designer expertly put together the image of a young girl with intense yet friendly eyes, good height, round face and long black hair with red highlights. It was a great balance.

Furthermore, having a backup story for your character makes it an easily comic book and animation worthy. Viewers would be captivated by knowing where it comes from and any life-transforming event it has been exposed to.

2) Have An Idea Of Where Your Design Would Appear:

Designing for the purposes of a game is completely different from designing for a movie or cartoon. According to Cory Loftis a Walt Disney Animation studios character designer, character designing for a game requires the creation of pretty cool characters. Ones that stand out and draw attention to themselves. You would want the person playing the game to have a good feel of his game personality and be able to do pretty amazing things. On the part of character designing in a movie, you should go for features that are immediately believable and yet don’t draw too much attention to themselves. The reason is this. Movies involve a whole lot of storytelling. The idea is to give the viewers the opportunity to pay attention to the plot and the performance and not the characters or environment.

3) Know Your Audience:

Here’s a factor you simply can’t undermine. In order to create a perfect piece, you should know whom you are aiming to please. If your character design is to be used in a kids show, then you should opt for bright colors and pretty basic shapes. The plan would be to keep things simple and fun. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you are designing for adults, you should try more mature and realistic features. Additionally, you can test the quality of your project by letting some adults view it. When doing this, take note of their expressions and reactions.

3) Know Your Audience:

Here’s a factor you simply can’t undermine. In order to create a perfect piece, you should know whom you are aiming to please. If your character design is to be used in a kids show, then you should opt for bright colors and pretty basic shapes. The plan would be to keep things simple and fun. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you are designing for adults, you should try more mature and realistic features. Additionally, you can test the quality of your project by letting some adults view it. When doing this, take note of their expressions and reactions.

4) Express Your Character Through Shape Of Body:

Is your character description strong, weak, smart or silly?. Let your audience know through the shape of the body. Van Partiiible the creator of Johnny Bravo an American animated series desired to portray the story of an Ill-mannered yet strong and handsome man who wished to get women to go on dates with him. He achieved that handsome and strong look by giving the character big arms, well-chiseled chin, broad shoulders, well-combed hair, and pitch black shades. That’s what we call perfect expression.
In line with the above, Andrew Chesworth a character designer in Walt Disney animations studio gave his definition of character designing to be the usage of smart shape language which gives you a great description of the character in the most concise shape.
If your character is a strong and appealing guy, opt for a chiseled chin than a rounded face. If you are working on a geek, you can use blocky little shapes and add a pair of big triangular shapes. A good example that comes to mind is Dexter of Dexter’s lab animated series.

5) Magnify Their Characteristics:

Amplifying the key characteristics of your characters design helps viewers effortlessly ascertain the important qualities of the character. If you are working on cartoon caricatures, you will find this tip exceptionally useful.

6) Work On Your Adaptability:

While finding your rhythm and style is useful in character designing because it helps you stand out, there is also a need for you to be able to switch up to any style as required. The key to such flexibility is consistent practice. You should be able to work with a pattern that matches the production that employs you. For instance, designing characters for SpongeBob or the Simpsons is very different from designing for a fresh to the scene halo game.

7) Feel Free To Research:

To create the most captivating characters, you can either lounge in your personal quiet space and let your imaginations run wild with a pencil in hand and paper available for sketching out your ideas or you can research and familiarize yourself with what character design techniques work and why they do. Most successful character designers embrace the latter on a regular basis. Fortunately, in-depth research materials are not in short supply. You can take advantage of TV commercials, stickers placed on fruits, characters on cereal boxes, animations, and the likes. If for example are seeking to create an intense character of a crime fighter or military officer. You can dig up materials on previously fought wars, equipment used and the personalities of front lining soldiers. Analyze them and try to find features that would give your design that flavor it lacks.

8) Draw Inspiration From Your Environment:

Do you need inspiration? Something that would spur up that creative part of you? Step outside and take in the beauty of your environment. The chirping of birds, the movement of people, the moods they are in, the expression on their faces, the display of different colors ranging from the blueness of the sky to the greenness of the field and the array of colorful cars. These amongst several other things would definitely light up your creativity bulb.

9) Amp Your Character Up With Missions:

Art by Toni Justamante Jacobs

This tip is especially useful if you are working on characters for a game. For each level of the game, you should keep things exciting by giving your character new goals which would require unlocking new character features. A game that easily comes to mind is the prince of Persia game. Each level unlocked comes with better fighting skills, harder missions, and sweet swift swords. Just a little something to keep the adrenaline up.

10) Throw In Some Expressions:

The central idea in character design is that you are birthing a new life. A key feature of living beings is an expression. So freely throw in some happy faces, angry faces, confused looks, and so on. Make your viewers feel the characters tempo. Keep your audience hooked.

11) Play Around With Your Clothes And Accessories:

Art by Toni Justamante Jacobs

In real life situations, clothes tell a whole lot about the person wearing them. Take real life situations and express them on paper. If your character is happy, work with bright colored clothes. Color options can be yellow, green, pink and so on. If you are to depict an angry or fierce character, try dark colors the likes of black or red. You might decide to add some tattoos just for that touch of fierceness.

12) Try To Get The Job Done Within Good Time:

When the job hits your desk, you should get yourself familiar with the briefing and with certain traits and ideas the character should display. Take notes on these traits and ideas. When that is done, it is time to start sketching. When sketching, don’t start up with bothering yourself about those details. Begin by using loose sketches with flow, movement, and acting. You should, however, add a good amount of life and dynamics to the drawing in the early stages. The reason is this. As you advance from the primary sketch to including the remaining details, you are likely to lose some life and dynamics. Be that as it may, if you begin from a good sketch to a fully developed image, you are sure to finish everything up at a quick pace.

13) Name Your Character:

Attaching names to a fictional character takes it from a just a job to a personal project. The character almost becomes real to you and certain ideas of good features that would promote its looks just comes effortlessly to your mind’s eye.

14) Boost Your Character With The Right Lighting And Environment:

Art by Toni Justamante Jacobs

As a creative artist, you can take your character artistry to the next level by highlighting certain aspects of your work and creating an atmosphere that would sync perfectly with your character description. Creating an environment that suits your character’s personality makes viewers know that you are a master of your trade. You can go on to depict in several ways how your character interacts with the environment you created. For better understanding, you can refer to the Disney animated series “the little mermaid”. It perfectly portrayed a mermaids life within the vast waters of an ocean.

15) Listen To Your Emotions:

Your emotions can most times be your greatest source of creativity. So if and when you come up blank, simply pay some attention to the voice of your emotions. If you are happy, then express it on paper, if you are angry, draw it out as well. You just might create a masterpiece.

16) Draw It Over And Over Again:

Repetition they say makes perfect. To test your idea and skill, do more than a drawing. What’s more, if you scrap any finished drawing, the next drawing would be an improvement upon the former. Now imagine if you draw your character repeatedly for about ten times. You will be amazed at your results.

17) Work With Clear Silhouettes:

A silhouette is an outline of a solid object and it assists in getting you to know the meaning of the characters gesture. You also effortlessly understand the characters emotions and its line of action. With this, you can create a unique and pretty amazing piece. Lastly, when drawing a silhouette, resist the temptation of overlapping everything.

18) Draw A Lot Of People:

Research shows that an amazing way to master the art of character designing is to draw a lot of people. So when you are not on a job, get images of people and begin drawing. Doing this assists you in putting together a visual library of references like hairstyles, clothes, shoes, glasses and several other accessories all of which you can use later in a future job.

19) Texturize With Brushes:

There is something simply irresistible about texture created through the graceful swipe of brushes. Apply some colors through brushes and your design would take a huge leap from bland to absolutely captivating.

20) Use Paper In The Early Stages:

While technology and the creation of various software might seem like a welcomed development in designing, in reality, it is best to stall their use until much later. Character design is a long process and with a pencil and paper, you can make all your preliminary mistakes and changes before arriving at the final piece. You also get to think quicker. This makes the end result in a beauty to behold. After perfecting the design on paper, then you can try your hands on the software.

21) Open Up Your Mind:

Character designing transcends people. Think of a good show that raked in a truckload of views. An example is adventure time. Characters on it looked exceptionally impressive. It takes an artist who gives his imaginations expression to deliver such groundbreaking designs. So go on and open up your mind. Let your creativity flow.

22) Keep It Simple:

While exaggerating certain features of your character can be a good thing, you should be careful so you don’t go overboard. When possible, try communicating your design using the smallest amount of lines. This does not mean that volume, design or placement should be lacking in your character. All that’s needed is that you portray only the important features so that things don’t look excessive or mumbled up.

23) Explore Various Angles Of The Body:

Even if you are trying to give your audience a flat character, don’t think flat. Experiment by drawing it from several sides. If for instance, you start by drawing the front view, when that is perfected you would have an idea of what the back should look like. Exploring various angles makes things look a little believable plus you get to master your draftsmanship.

24) Push The Boundaries:

While there are tips telling you how to create masterpiece character designs, one thing you should never forget is the need to go against the status quo every once in a while. Explore and find your rhythm and style. You just might come up with something positive out of this world.

25) Don’t Forget To Boost Everything:

After you must have come up with something appealing, you can add a little more detail by boosting key features. It would give an irresistible charm to your character at various moments thereby boosting its visual interest.

26) Explore The Beauty Of Dynamics:

There’s one thing that keeps every viewer craving more, and it’s action. In line with that, unapologetically include some action in your artistry. You don’t have to test your hands on anything over the top. A simple portray of a dance movement or a graceful movement of the hands and legs can be just perfect.

On a final note, character designing is a thrilling form of creative arts. While it may be technical sometimes, if you are able to reach deep down and give your imaginations a voice, then you are well on your way to being a badass character designer. To assist you in smoothening out the rough edges, discussed above are the best tips for character designing. Go on and explore.

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