Looking for a face for your company, product or service. The possibilities are endless, but where to start? What about a human character, a talking animal or maybe you'd like to bring an inanimate product to life. In any case, Jack gives you some key concepts to keep in mind.
Memorable character design takes real time and thought
- Jack Chadwick, Illustrator
1. Think deeply. And then think again
Even though characters are fictitious, it's important to think about in what environment you want to make to them live, because its behaviour may be influenced by the setting in which it operates. A good technique to do this is to interrogate your character with a set of questions. It will help make your character come to life and to be much more relatable. The list we have here is of course not exhaustive, but it's a good start...
- Where do they live?
- Who are their parents?
- What is their job?
- Who is their best friend?
- What foods do they like?
- What's their favourite colour?
- Pepsi or Coca-Cola?
Another technique is the Opposite technique. This can spark surprising ideas for character designs. For example, you want to have a character that comes across as really strong, but at the same time it must also be really small too.
- Draw 2 columns - in the left column, write out a list of words that come to mind when you think of your ideal character.
- Then fill the right column with words that are “opposites” or almost-opposite to the words in the left column.
- See if you can incorporate inspiration from that right hand side in your design.
2. Define a body language
Now you know what your character does for a living and what they like to eat, it's time to determine how they are going to act. A good idea is to think of how your character walks. Would it walk gracefully towards an object, would it hurry, would it move forward clumsily? It's a first step in determining your character's body language.
Define your limits: Discover what your character absolutely can do and absolutely can't do.
Find points of balance: The centre around which all other "body" parts move
Take your time: Don't take your first idea for granted, it might be good, but you probably can do better.
3. Shape a personality
The shape of your character is closely linked to the your character's personality. People associate geometrical forms with different character traits. For example round people (circles) tend to be friendly, cute and cuddly
Square and rectangular forms are usually associated with reliable, strong, sturdy and organised characters.
If your looking for a villain, you should think of triangular shapes as they can help convey a dynamic, energetic, sinister or mean vibe.
You can play with these shapes and mix them around in one character to give your character multiple character traits. Play with expectations and your character will leave a longer-lasting impression on your audience.
4. Focus on details
In the end it all comes down to details. Once you have find the perfect shape and personality it's time to think about the details to give your character more depth.
Check your silhouettes: What does the outline say about their personality?
Details add depth: Increase the liveliness of your character.
Cultural differences: Associations with colours and shapes are culturally determined.
In Europe blue tends be associated with freedom, while in Japan blue is seen as a villainous colour. Red in the West indicates danger, whereas in China it's heavily linked to happiness.
I hope you enjoyed these tips and inspired you to break out the pencil and paper! For any questions you can always leave a comment, I'll be sure to be in touch with you!