18 Creative Tips for Designing Characters every designer should know

Designing characters is a growing trend in graphic design. The quality of the design can be directly related to the designer’s understanding and use of shapes. Character designs are the most critical aspect of the visual quality of a cartoon. Most designers use props, lines, shapes, and values when creating characters for animation or comics.

Designing Characters is like a translation. It’s not just about drawing pretty pictures—it’s about interpreting someone else’s script and making sure it comes across to the audience in the way it was intended.

A compelling character’s design must be memorable, instantly recognizable, and stand out in the multitude of media that are out there today. A great character design will often convey essential information about the character’s role and personality in a few simple strokes.

Designing characters is critical for creating any visual project, whether for a book cover or an ad campaign. The key to designing great characters lies in the details, so we’ve gathered these 18 creative tips to use as you work on your next design project.

Important things to Master Designing Characters

Build up a Back Story of a Character

This section is about the process of building up a backstory for a character. It’s essential to know the character’s backstory to make sure that you are creating an accurate portrayal. There are many ways to build up the back story, but it all starts with understanding who your protagonist is.

The first step in building up the backstory for your character is to understand who they are as a person and what they want out of life. Building a better backstory can be done by answering questions such as:

-What does their family history say about them?

-What do they want out of life?

-What do people think about them?

-What motivates them?

-What does the future look like for them?

-How do they handle stress and fear?

-what is their personality?

Do not forget use S-curves and C-curves

Designing a character can be just as important as developing any other aspect of a game, and in fact, it’s often the first thing the player sees. That’s why the design process has to start with a clear design direction — what’s your character concept be? What you’ll need to make that concept reality are two basic strokes: S-curves and C-curves.

S-curves are smooth curves that move in one direction, while C-curves are soft curves that move in two directions simultaneously. An S-curve can be considered the beginning of a wave or the arcing backhand stroke in tennis. A C-curve is the end of a wave or an overhead forehand stroke. These strokes (S and C) can combine in almost infinite ways to make up everything about your character – its body parts and facial features. One way to think about this is to picture your sketch in terms of shapes.

Your character’s head could be three or more simple circles connected by lines. If you want your character to look like a breathing product of nature, then it should be made up of curved lines, not straight ones – so you might.

Convey your Message through your Designing Characters 

Characters are the most important in animation because they bridge you and the audience. A character should not only look good, but also it should be able to emote. There is great importance in developing a character’s personality, attitude, and emotion to deliver your message effectively.

Convey your Message through your Designing Characters 

When it comes to designing characters, you have to ask yourself a few questions:

Who is the audience?

What makes my character different?

What is the message?

How do I convey this information through design?

How to engage the audience?

How will they react to the character?

Keep in mind who your target audience will help you create a character that appeals to that demographic. For example, if your target audience is young women, you may want to create a fun and bubbly character that conveys your message in a friendly and approachable way.

The character you design should show what the product does or why someone should buy it by conveying an emotion or thought process, depending on the type of product. If you are selling insurance, your character might be angry or frustrated because it depicts how people feel when they think about buying.

Find a way to make your Character stand out from the Crowd

One of the most important things you can do to make your character stand out from the crowd is give them a unique voice. The best way to do this is to provide them with a different perspective on the world. This doesn’t mean that they should be cynically misanthropic or the like, simply that their outlook on life is different from everyone else in the book.

So How can I make my character’s voice more distinctive? By making it more reflective of their background and situation.

Perhaps they are more hopeful and idealistic than other characters, or maybe they have an arid sense of humor, or even just a very literal mind. A character with a unique voice not only has more dimension, but it will also become more memorable.

There are many character designers, and it can be hard to stand out in a crowd. The best way to get your designs noticed is to create a high-quality portfolio, show it off on social media, and get the word out about your work.

Learn from every bit of Knowledge while creating Chacraters

Learn from every bit of knowledge you come across. We all have the potential to learn and grow. There is no such thing as a stupid question and no such thing as a silly person. But never copy others’ work! Nowadays, there are multiple sources of learning like online courses, youtube, etc.

We should always be learning from other people’s experiences and mistakes, which will help us become better at what we do.

Designing characters is a lot of fun. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I still make mistakes and learn from them. I look back at characters I’ve made in the past and remember what I thought at the time, how I created them and why. My best tactic here is to learn every single day.

My philosophy is pretty simple: Studying influences, deconstructing successful characters, and analyzing what makes them work. The more you do this, the better you’ll become at creating new characters of your own. Don’t limit yourself to the type of design work you’ve seen in the past.

Best Character pose

Designing characters can be tricky but look at the poses you like and analyze them. Which elements do you like and which don’t you like?

When crafting a character, think about the personality, occupation, and skills of that character. When creating a character, think about the silhouette from their different movements and how much detail you want to show is excellent for communicating your vision for a character to your team.

This will help you check if the pose is functional and if it’s able to be read by itself. If your character has a strong silhouette, it will be easy to identify it, even in a game with hundreds of different characters.

Source: thenippaaah(Instagram)

It can be tricky but look at the poses you like and analyze them. Which elements do you like and which don’t you like?

Be creative instead of relying on someone else for Inspiration

Character design is the art of creating new, imaginative, and memorable characters that stimulate the imagination and provoke emotional responses in the audience. The trick to creating memorable characters is to be as original as possible.

When you look at something and then try and hazily remember it in your mind, you might create a pastiche of what it may be based on. At the same time, if you try to force a character into a specific mold you’ve seen already, you risk making a stale predictable character.

When referencing past character designs, it’s often best to keep your head up because you aren’t limited by the expectations you think they should be.

“Make anything! You can’t know what the world needs until you start making things.”

– Neil Gaiman

Flexible Workflow 

These days, we can rely on software to help us design characters. We can create digital sketches of body parts and use various grid and symmetry tools to perfect the design. But none of these things are required to create a great character if you have a great skill. There are plenty of fantastic resources available to help you learn how to use software like Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, SketchUp, and 3D Studio Max, with which you can automate your character animation process.

Choose perfect Colour 

Color is an integral part of creating a character that people will recognize and remember. Color psychology has influenced people’s perceptions, thoughts, and behavior for thousands of years.

Character creators make selecting color schemes easier by providing a set of pre-determined themes for characters’ outfits or by letting you choose your colors for each component. Dark colors are typically associated with evil intentions, while light colors depict innocence and purity.

Consider Facial expression and Personality

When designing your characters, you may want to consider facial expressions, personality traits, or even color palettes. Include expression of emotion (anger, happiness, sadness), expression of thinking process (thinking, confusion, realization), expression of mood or personality (cocky smirk, dorky smile, etc.), body type, facial expression, clothing style, color palette, hairstyle, and so on.

Consider Facial expression and personality
Source: An entry from moss Forest (Pinterest)

In addition to the basics (hair, eyes, nose, mouth), try adding some personality traits that really bring the whole thing together.

Dive into Shape Language

Shape theory is a concept used in character design to communicate meaning based on shapes we are familiar with. Simple shapes can tell a story, show personality, and trigger an emotional response in your audience without using any words.

The most common shapes used in-game art are triangle, circle, and square. In contrast, angular or sharper body shapes are associated with manliness or tomboyish personalities.

Target Audience

Have you ever wondered why some people are more popular than others? It’s not because of how they look, their intelligence, or their personality. Even if you have all those qualities, you might still not be as popular as you’d like to be. If you’re trying to make a character in your game as appealing and attractive as possible, then this is one of the things that you need to consider.

The secret is to see the target audience when designing your character. The more important aspects are the gender and age group of the target audience.

Character Psychology 

Source: @vsayrebmmottona (Pinterest)

In my experience, there are many ways to design great characters, but they’re all based around one core philosophy: The most important thing is to capture an emotional response from your audience. A strong character conveys personality through visuals and behavior.

So what is character psychology? Basically, it’s how a character thinks and acts, their personality and how they deal with life. It’s the sum of their habits and traits. Following character, psychology is crucial for game designers and animators to know their characters inside out.

Craft better Silhouettes 

Tailoring the silhouette to your character’s personality can help you achieve a unique look.

A silhouette is simply a character’s shape when they don’t have any colors or textures applied to their body. It’s essential to make sure your character has an effective silhouette because it directly impacts how people will be able to read your character from a distance and recognize that it’s a person.

When designing a character, it’s essential to think about what they look like when not visible. Design and planning are necessary so that the character doesn’t become unidentifiable in silhouette.

Keep character Design straightforward

When drawing your characters, it’s easy to get caught up in the “more detail is better” mentality. After all, it’s tempting to want to convey every possible detail, right down to the individual strands of hair. But excess detail can make it harder for the audience to understand what’s going on in the frame.

Source: Beautifuldawndesigns (Pinterest)

Avoiding overly detailed drawings has a secondary benefit: It lets you focus on the details and subtleties of your character’s face and body language.

Beautify background and External facters

Whether it’s a sci-fi setting or a fantasy land, the character needs to fit into that world. It’s not enough for you to create an environment for your character and expect that to be enough. The most important thing is to understand the world around your character. What kind of place is it? Why does it exist? Who lives there? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself when creating your character.

Your character’s anatomy isn’t limited to its exterior — it can also affect its personality and background. Your character’s movement can also be inspired by its surroundings. For example, A creature that has evolved in a world without gravity will move and react differently than one grown in a world where gravity is more robust.

It’s essential to keep this in mind when designing your characters; what you know about physics and biology can be helpful here, but nothing replaces experience and observation of the natural world around you. The most important thing to understand is that believability depends on the particular universe you’ve created.

Checking Lighting

When you’re designing characters, keeping the light sources in mind will help you create character models with a lot of depth. To make sure that your character is shaded realistically, it’s a good idea to “squint” at your model. Experiment with shapes, angles, and materials to see what kind of unique effects you can come up with.

When you design 3-D characters in a game, you need to make sure that they look realistic and visually pleasing. Natural objects don’t have one light source—there are highlights, shadows, and maybe even some ambient light bouncing off other surfaces, so keep that in mind. Once you have your character modeled, UV unwrapped, and textured, and you can start thinking about how it moves.

Don’t forget your Character Design Portfolio 

A character design portfolio is another vital part of an artist’s professional development. Creating professional character designs, marketing your work, and maintaining a portfolio can be achieved by displaying your work online and building a following, no matter where you are in the world. 

A portfolio is a collection of examples of your designed character to show prospective employers or clients the scope and quality of your work and qualifications. You can also get potential clients, companies, etc. 

Advantages of Portfolio 

7 easy steps to create your character design portfolio

  1. Pick the perfect portfolio website
  2. Design your portfolio and add your best characters
  3. Use social proof clients
  4. Add an engaging “About” and “contact” page
  5. Do SEO to improve rankings
  6. Do marketing and beautify it
  7. Update to stay on top 

Bonus Tips for Enhancing Characater Designing

-Create a mood board of different kinds of characters. What are some distinct personalities, genders, ethnicities, cultures, professions, attitudes, ages? What are some personality traits? What are some possible backgrounds?

-A common mistake people make when designing characters is to create caricatures rather than real people.

-Character sketches are an essential part of the process. Try drawing these character sketches in different poses and expressions. It can also be helpful to create a character’s backstory. Who were they before the story began? Who are they now? What does their future look like

– Character designing can be complex because it’s not always clear what should be included in the design and what does not so sort out that first

– Designing characters can also be complicated if there isn’t enough time for research and brainstorming before starting the final product.

– Creating compelling characters is key to bringing a story to life. Without any of them, we would have no one to root for or against, no one to champion or fight against.

– Characters should be relatable and likable to the audience.

– Characters should be dynamic and engaging, with their unique personalities and traits.

-Focus on the core elements of your design and try to keep your designs simple. Complicated designs can be challenging to work with; they may not translate well into others.

-While designing a character, consider each and every aspect of creating, like hair, eyes, facial expression, body structure, color scheme, symbols, etc.

-Don’t make characters too perfect! Perfection is boring! Your character will become flat and lifeless if there aren’t any flaws or quirks to spice up your personality.

-Keep things simple! It’s better to keep things simple than over-complicate them! Nobody wants to read about a five-page backstory for each of your characters before they even get

How to make money online by Designing Characters?

Designing characters is challenging, but you could be paid well for your work if you have the right skills and a good portfolio. There are many marketplaces where you can sell your character designs and illustrations. If you’re a character designer, be sure to price your skills appropriately. But don’t price yourself out of the market either.

Keep in mind that customers aren’t just looking for the cheapest deal. They want solutions to their problems by a great design at the right price. Customers are willing to pay for quality, so don’t sell yourself short.

15 ways to make money by Designing characters

15 ways to make money by designing characters

  1. Create your own comic strips or book series.
  2. Start your own freelance mini-business doing character design for businesses.
  3. Designing Characters for Cartoons, TV Shows and Characters for Animated Film.
  4. Making character tutorials and selling them..
  5. T-shirts and other merchandise.
  6. Starting your  youtube channel or blog
  7. Freelance character design for video games.
  8. Freelance character design for advertising agencies and advertising platforms.
  9. Draw caricatures at events, parties, or conventions (or even just on a sidewalk!)
  10. Sell your designs to companies like Disney who are always on the hunt for new talent
  11. Draw a series of “cute” characters 
  12. Design Facebook covers, Twitter avatars, and website graphics
  13. Creative characters for apps, games, and websites.
  14. Design custom “emoji packs” for cell phones.
  15. Design characters for bloggers, youtubers and vloggers.

Costumers always need new and unique characters for their products, so there is a constant demand for character designers. Character design is a great way to get started in the world of freelance illustration.

Decide what kind of characters you want to design. Choose a freelancing platform like wallingstack, freelancer, 99designs, etc. Make a perfect portfolio/website for your designing characters. Post your designs on various social platforms to get potential clients for your designs. Don’t forget to feedback from the client you have worked with.

Why is it important to do a lot of sketching and do a lot of practice drawings before starting a final drawing?

I think of it as building a house: you need a strong foundation if you want it to stand up to strong winds. Your design will be more robust if you have a solid understanding of structure and form. You’ll be better able to take feedback when your client or boss tells you that something doesn’t look right because you’ll know what’s wrong with it and what needs fixing.

Takashi Murakami has another perspective: “Artists who can’t draw well usually succeed in becoming artists. Those who can draw well usually end up as illustrators.” You need to be able to work from life, from photos, and imagination.

Last words on Creating Characters

Artwork is the way you communicate your design decisions to a client. It can also communicate with your team or establish consistency in your work. If you’re working on multiple characters for one project, you’ll want a consistent style guide to ensure your work looks good together. Artwork can be used to document visual progress and create a lookbook.

I always look for poses that can express a feeling or an emotion and combine it with a story to give more depth. It’s important to use a variety of emotions in order to capture a wide range of customers’ interests. The more relatable characters you have, the better chance you have of connecting with your target audience.

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