As you learn more about character design techniques and grow as an artist, you will be able to start using several key strategies when creating characters. There are a number of different factors that play a significant role in optimizing character design. You can use various techniques to master the artistic abilities that are required for optimal character creation. The structure and implementation of your vision might be one of the most crucial factors as you continue to progress.
There may be a specific style that you are aiming for when starting a new character design. It is important to understand how this style reflects against your primary character, as well as any additional characters that might come into the fold later down the road.
Character Structure and Theme
When creating a character from scratch, one of the most important things to consider is the overall structure and theme of your characters. In the early stages of character development, you will have the opportunity to adjust and tweak these variables. In an ideal situation, you are looking to create a consistent structure that will work in lots of different situations.
You might envision this character acting or posing in a certain way. It is also important to consider what other common poses this character may use and how they make look in those alternative scenarios.
The structure of your character could make or break whether your character can be used in a 2D world or 3D world. If you cannot envision and optimize your character structure, then you might quickly notice a lot of inconsistency with your envisioned character.
Artistic Character Design
The best character designs are often filled with certain design elements that connect them with a specific emotion. This emotion can be triggered by the visual appearance of the character. This is why the character design is so incredibly important. In an ideal situation, viewers should be able to quickly understand the purpose of the character, even if the character is only revealed for a quick moment.
Your character design needs to be easily understood by the desired audience. For example, if you are designing a gorilla monster, it needs to be clear to the viewer that this character is not friendly.
The visual appearance needs to trigger that emotion and create a certain level of fear among the viewers. If the viewers understand what the character represents after taking a quick glimpse at it, then you are on the right track.
Character Side Details Can Help Show More About Your Character Design
A lot of people might be reading this and simply assume that the most important details of any character stem from the character’s face. This can be true a lot of the time, but it is not always guaranteed.
The side details of a character are sometimes just as important, if not more. Every character that you design should have a visual trait that clearly expresses to viewers something relating to the character.
For example, let’s revisit our gorilla monster character example. Let’s imagine that this character is commonly seen with a banana. A visual representation of this character holding a banana in multiple scenes, postures, and poses will clearly express to the viewer that this gorilla monster is a big fan of bananas.
This could then lead to plot-related situations where a friendly character gives this gorilla monster a free banana, leading to the monster not being so angry after all.
This situation is just an example of something that might pop up in your character creation world. The purpose of this example is to show newcomers to the character design world that side details can be just as important as the primary design features of your character.
Character Story Impacts Character Design
The backstory of the character that you are designing is a big part of making sure that your overall character design is high-quality, consistent, and effective. In some cases, it may be possible to represent portions of a character’s backstory from a visual perspective.
For example, let’s imagine the gorilla monster character has a history of getting into fights with other animals in the forest. You might be able to visually represent this character’s history by adding minor details like scars, bruises, or other similar details on your gorilla monster character. This provides a subtle hint to viewers that this character may have a history within the story of getting into fights and brawls with other creatures.
Most of the character’s stories will be handled with dialogue, writing, and other similar tactics. A well-designed character may also have these visual representations that provide an additional layer of consistency for that character as a whole. This is an important concept to think about when designing your character and it certainly should not be ignored.
You should use your creative imagination to find different ways to visually represent the backstory of your character. There are so many different ways to accomplish this concept with your character so it is definitely important to be creative during this process.
Emotional Attachment to The Character Adds Depth To Character Design
When you are creating your character, you should have a specific goal that you are trying to accomplish with your character. There needs to be a layer of consistency across all of the categories we’ve covered here.
Some of the best fictional characters have a significant emotional attachment with certain portions of the audience. Everyone in real life has a different personality and these different groups of people will oftentimes look for a fictional character that they can connect with.
You should think about what type of person will like your character. If you aren’t sure, then you need to try and determine what type of person you want to like your character. Maybe you want young kids to love the character that you are making. Alternatively, maybe you want everyone to be united against your character. These are all concepts that need to be considered.
The primary goal is to generate an emotional attachment between the audience and your character. Maybe you want your audience to start out hating your gorilla monster character. You could then generate a negative first impression by adding visual representations that tie into the story.
Maybe as the story goes on, you could use this emotional attachment that has been generated to bring your audience onto an emotional rollercoaster. You could use the story and all of the other concepts that we’ve covered today to allow your audience to grow to like this character.
Some of the best fictional characters that are still recognized across the industry today managed to generate exceptional levels of emotional attachment. With that being said, you will have to be creative and find new ways to do this with your envisioned character.
What Makes a Great Character?
Now that you have had a chance to learn about character structure, design, details, story, and emotional attachment, how could you use all of these concepts and utilize them in such a way to create a character that is remembered?
Memorable characters are consistent across all of these categories. Sometimes there is an emphasis on a certain category, but no individual category is ever neglected unless it is beneficial to the story of the character.
A good place to start would be to envision a general look and theme for your character. Once you have achieved this, you could then start to fill in the other categories with consistency. You should take your time and be as creative as possible to tie everything back together in a consistent manner. If you rush and overlook certain design aspects during this process, your character will likely not have the consistency that is needed.
Final Thoughts on Character Design
A lot of different topics have been covered in this post that can help you with character design, as well as understanding the basic fundamental concepts that make up a well-designed fictional character.
You should know by now that there is a lot more to character design than just the visual portion of the character design. There are certainly important elements in the visual design of your character, but that isn’t the only imperative concept that needs to be factored into the equation during the character design process.
If you plan on learning more about the concepts that are imperative for high-quality character design, then it is a good idea to start with the four primary concepts that were included within this post. These concepts include character structure, character design, character side details, and the backstory of the character.
If you effectively manage to generate a high level of quality and consistency across these categories, then you should be on the right track to generating an emotional attachment between your audience and your character. That emotional attachment process is the first step towards building and designing a memorable character that will be remembered for a very long time.