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Good Character Design

Posted By MilesV 3 Months Ago
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MilesV
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I've researched Character Design this week and found some common elements, which are listed below. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts, ideas, and frameworks you use when developing characters.


Silhouette: 

This seems to be the most important. Your character, if stripped down to a black silhouette, should still be recognizable. 

The shapes of your character should be clear in the silhouette. Use big simple shapes. Choose a shape motif (triangle, square, circle) to reduce clutter and emphasize parts of your character that you want to emphasize. 

Use shape language. Examples:

Circle - positive, feminine, peaceful, kind, soft, safe, wholeness, happy, or weak

Square - physical, masculine, stable, dependable, disciplined, strong, reliable, independent

Triangle - movement, sharpness, deviation, villainous, severeness, unstable, dangerous


This works best with stylized/cartoon characters. However, it can be used with realistic characters through clothing, hair, and weapons/props.

Posture can also say a lot about your character and whether they are confident, sexy, lazy, shy, monstrous, feminine, masculine, etc.

Palette:

Your character should be recognizable even when reduced to rectangular color swatches.

Don't use too many colors. Instead, choose a dominant color, and then the other colors should complement, not compete against it.

Use colors to invoke certain moods. Some examples:

Red - dangerous, sexy, love, boldness, strength, courage

Orange - cheerfulness, enthusiasm, creativity

Yellow - liveliness, optimism, happiness, energy

Green - luxurious, optimistic, nature, harmony

Blue - peace, loyalty, honor, trust, depth, stability

Purple - power, royalty, nobility, elegance

Brown - earthy, solid, reliable, genuine

Black - formality, power, strength, elegance

White - purity, newness, peace, innocence

Pink - feminine, loving, caring, nurturing


Color language isn't as straightforward as shape language. For example, yellow can also mean sickness and disease. 

Think about the world. Countries closer to the equator tend to have more colorful clothing and artwork, while those closer to the poles have more muted colors and artwork. Now think about the world your character lives in and how geography might affect the color schemes. 

Story:

Knowing the story of your character can be very beneficial when designing them.

Even if you only have a few words to describe a character's attributes, it can help you with the character design. Is your character meant to be intimidating, big and jolly, depressed, confident, etc.? Identify these things and then use them to figure out shapes, colors, posture, clothing, etc.

What do you all think? Do you agree or disagree with any of this? Do you have anything to add or a certain framework you follow when developing characters for your projects? I'd love to hear from the minds of people in this forum.

Below are some of the resources I looked at. They give visual examples and explain these ideas in further detail:

GOOD vs BAD Character Design: Tips and Tricks! - YouTube

A GUIDE TO GOOD CHARACTER DESIGN (MEGA SUPER ULTIMATE) - YouTube

Top 5 Tips for Character Design - YouTube

Character Design 101 - YouTube

Shape Language - YouTube

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3 Months Ago by MilesV
hicksight
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The notion that different hues can communicate different feelings is an old cliche that I don't think bears up. However, the idea that audiences warm to a design with warm colors is useful.
The advice about enabling the audience to "read" your character is vital; attention to color contrast between character and background is one example. There are a bunch of related rules, for example, "no tangents."
But in general, the issue of what makes good character design is so broad as to discourage generalizations. Here are examples, I've assembled below.
What works for some audiences and stories has *very little* to do with what works for other audiences and stories, as you can see!
I despise the Powder Puff Girls--I think they're incredibly lame and ugly--but they were enormously successful with their intended audience.
Bottom line: It is highly unlikely that any of us can now invent a style or character concept that hasn't already been done more than once (by people far more talented than us).
Your quickest road to success would be to study the characters in your chosen genre which really inspire you.
Then do that!!!https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/4f862356-fe2c-4ac0-82b5-4840.png

Animating now to life itself --Walt Whitman 
MilesV
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Thanks for sharing hicksight! I agree it's a very subjective topic. Using reference images is vital for me. I struggle to start on any creative endeavor when I have a blank page or canvas. Definitely wouldn't be able to reinvent the wheel!

I hate to tell you this... but they're making a live action version of the Powerpuff Girls. lol Much more attractive characters though.

This is a fun short interview on the thought process behind the characters in Pixar's Inside Out:


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3 Months Ago by MilesV
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I have forgotten the entire list of design rules I saw somewhere... someone here can probably find it...
But here is the kind of advice the experts give....
http://characterdesignnotes.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-to-kill-great-character-design-part_24.html



Animating now to life itself --Walt Whitman 
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I have forgotten the entire list of design rules I saw somewhere... someone here can probably find it...
But here is the kind of advice the experts give....
http://characterdesignnotes.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-to-kill-great-character-design-part_24.html



Animating now to life itself --Walt Whitman 



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