CHARACTER DESIGN: WHAT IT IS AND HOW ITS DONE

In Art, Artists, Uncategorized by Toni Justamante Jacobs

Character design is one of the most essential aspects of producing films and games. Irrespective of which field you choose to work in, it is crucial to pay uttermost attention to character design. This is because eventually, the character is one of the major things that dwell in the mind of the audience. The character design process starts the moment the project (a game, a movie, or similar) is in the pre-production phase. The process requires the technical know-how of forms, colors, textures, and every detail about a character that needs to be conceived or introduced.

Creating an entire character from scratch usually requires a lot of creative energy, which is why the character design process is often described as tasking and complex; nevertheless, this doesn’t stop it from being one of the most sought-after careers for aspiring entertainment artist. While there are various aspects to character designing, it is, however, necessary to know the meaning of character design.

WHAT IS CHARACTER DESIGN?

Character design is the process artists followed when determining not only a character’s physical appearance but also about fashioning out the character’s attitude and body language.

Designing characters is mainly associated with the context of comics, games, and movies, where there are fictional characters that an audience can easily identify with.

Fully developed character designs are an essential aspect of the production process, and they ultimately determine the success of the final product in the market.

Designers employ various techniques, most of which are focused on figurative representation. Character creation is usually done using 2D software like Photohop or Procreate. In recent years, the use of 3D software, specially in movies, has become essential for creating not only characters concepts.

Traditional methods, like pencil drawing and the used of oils or acrylics are still in used in some fields like illustrations. The constant increase in digitization in the gaming and cinema industries makes impossible for artist to create characters using traditional methods in almost any case.

CHARACTER DESIGNERS AND WHAT THEY DO

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A character designer also known as concept artists are responsible for creating an entire artwork, style, and concept of a character from scratch. As earlier stated, the character designing process is one that is usually tedious and complex; however, every artist has their unique creative process, which is why there is no right way of creating a character,

The job of a character designer revolves around visualizing and creating the look of individual characters; most times, they create characters from the descriptions they get from the designers, writers and art directors. These descriptions usually include notes on the character’s physical traits as well as personality. A character designer usually draws inspiration from the concept art and script in other to create characters. They communicate the personalities of the characters through physical poses as well as facial expressions.

The job of a character designer goes beyond creating characters as they are tasked with researching the anatomy of characters as well as useful fashion styles to include in their work. This role depends a lot on drawing ability, and characters are mostly drawn digitally or on paper. Character designers create various designs, most of which include numerous designs for a single character, after which they present the designs to the director and make the necessary corrections or adjustments based on the director’s feedback so as to achieve a satisfactory result.

Once the design has been accepted, a character designer(s) proceeds to create model sheets that display the character from various angles.

Concept art is one career in high demand today, and a good number of character designers earn a profit on designing characters.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARACTER DESIGN

One of the first steps towards producing an animated video is character design. There can be no animation if there are no characters. The first step in designing a character is to clearly outline the appearance, personalities, physical attributes, and temperaments. Focusing on the details is the key to developing a character, as only then will you be able to create a character that the audience can better relate to.

HOW TO DESIGN A CHARACTER

What gives a character a sense of appeal, and how can you create fun and interesting characters? The truth is, there is no magic to creating characters, but there are, however, guidelines to take into consideration that will aid you in your character creation.

• Sketch them small first

Making thumbnail drawings usually brings a wave of ideas, which is why sketching your drawings small will allow you to accommodate more drawings of the same kind on the same page, allowing you to compare ideas.

• Work towards getting the anatomy right

It is essential to know about anatomy, especially human anatomy, to be able to draw characters. When drawing human anatomy, ensure to differentiate between muscle structure and body proportions so as not to end up with inaccurate body proportions.

• Create variants on your second drawing

The moment you have made the drawing, continue trying different variants on the character’s accessories, hair, skin color, clothes, amongst others. You might prefer more than one version and have to mix and match in other to get the best result.

• Think in terms of shape design

Shapes usually send a message to the viewer like a certain character is approachable, sharp, or dangerous. Shapes allow us to access these feelings, and eventually, it boils down to knowing when to deploy each shape so as to achieve the effect desired.

• Adopt an attitude of gathering references

One of the most important aspects of character development is learning how to gather references.  The images that you make use of as references will come in handy, especially in the final stages of designing the character. This process is usually overlooked, which is why some artists usually create unoriginal and uncharacteristic designs. It is necessary for you to find inspiration in unconventional designs so as to be able to produce original art. Find designs that are unique, adapt them, and incorporate them into your drawing.

Now while all these seem easy, it is necessary to understand that in reality, it is not something that can easily be achieved but with constant research, practice, and proper application of the steps listed above, you should be able to design a unique character based on originality.

If you are interested in developing your anatomy drawing skills and learn how to draw characters digitally, you should check my drawing video course. You can find more information clicking the image below:

TIPS TO NOTE WHEN CREATING A CHARACTER DESIGN

Character designers work towards making characters memorable. As earlier implied, a properly designed character tends to make a lasting impression on the audience irrespective of being a video game, comic, or movie character. Every character designer usually has their style; however, the ability to create and break various molds of designs shows the work of a quality character designer; it is essential to be able to adapt and blend into various styles of work, which in turn makes an artist to grow. The aim of character designing is to develop an individual’s sense of style, which depends on intrinsic practice and motivation. Before venturing into character design, there are a few tips to know that will come in very handy, and they include;

• Focusing on your subject idea

Never assume that you everything about your subject just by reading the description. You can only present your ideas in the original light through thorough research. Neglecting the research aspect of creating a character will most likely reflect in your work, which is why you should put more focus on learning everything related to your character and not just the anatomy, and the time you invest in learning about the subject will help improve the quality of your design.

Character

Character does not only refer to the description of the physical aspects like body structure, age, gender, and occupation but mostly focuses on the character’s psychological aspects like their personality, moods amongst others. Achieving the perfect design is possible when you look at the situation from the character’s perspective and not only focus on the physical aspects.

• A proper silhouette

A silhouette refers to a black shape, which is usually the outline of your character. It is important to ensure that your silhouette is readable, even if it is a complex illustration or a simple design. When creating a silhouette, you need to understand how you can emphasize the emotion of the character through their posture. The design of your character should reflect their gender, attire, age, and action. At the end of it, you need to create a design that conveys the message you aim to send through the image.

• Posture

Your character’s expression and pose play a huge role. Your character’s essence is usually visible from their pose. Getting the poses right involves knowing the nature of the character well.  It is essential to try out various angles while drawing the pose before finalizing on one.

• Shapes

It is important for the characters to be easily recognizable even from the shapes. You can experiment with shapes by focusing on creating simple shapes that are easily recognizable.

• Audience

When creating a character, you need to consider your audience. If your audience is children, then you should focus your designs around basic shapes and primary colors. Your characters should be unique so as to attract your audience to the storyline. You can easily create the ideal personality when you are able to relate to your audience.

• Keep it simple

Irrespective of if the character design is intricate, you need to make sure that each part of the work can be broken down efficiently. While creating the design, it is important to practice the same characters several times. Ensure you avoid elaborate patterns as it can be challenging to duplicate.

• Ensure the character is unique

Your attention should be on creating a unique character. Having said that, focus on the shape of the character’s nose, the size of the eyes, height, neck, posture so as to make a design that is unique and relatable.

• Feedback

It can be beneficial to get feedback on the design you are creating. Now, this is not usually for knowing whether a person likes your design or not, but rather it is aimed at allowing you to understand if the audience can relate to it or not. When creating a character, take note of every feedback and criticism, and immediately act on it as this will help make the character evolve. While getting constructive feedback can be very helpful, it is, however, left to you to analyze your work critically as you alone can be a better judge for the character you are aiming to design.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There are numerous character designers in the world today, each with their portfolio of contents and illustrations. Character designers continue to contribute to the world of designing characters. Most of your favorite characters today were, at one point, designed by someone. If you wish to enter the world of character designing, you must be able to create ideas that are unique, original, and quality.

Character designing is tasking, and it involves a lot of work. More importantly, it requires years of practice in other to achieve excellence as an artist, and even after that, it requires more time of practicing characters in other to get comfortable about designing anything. However, one thing to always remember is that character designing remains one of the most rewarding areas for entertainment artists, plus it allows artists to improvise and also give life to their creation.

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CHARACTER DESIGN: WHAT IT IS AND HOW ITS DONE
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CHARACTER DESIGN: WHAT IT IS AND HOW ITS DONE
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In this article, you will find the definition, creative pipeline and techniques involving the character design process.
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Improve Your Drawings
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Toni Justamante Jacobs

About the author: Hi, I’m Toni Justamante Jacobs. I´m a professional Concept Artist and Illustrator with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. Some of my clients are Gameloft, Fantasy Flight Games, Kunlun Games and Games Workshop. Currently, I´m working at Socialpoint as an in-house Senior Concept Artist.