|"Coffee Guy" by Natalya Ropotova|
Character design isn't just about creating cool characters. It is very much a client-facing process in which designers work together with art directors and directors to create characters that work in the overall content of a production.
The key to success, Steve argues, is to take the time to consider the process carefully. In this guest post, Steve explains the principles behind "Considered Character Design".
|"Monsterz" by Nora Racz|
“Considered character Design is key to quality work. The more love you offer a character in their development the more love the final product will receive. So what is Considered Character Design?
Good character design reflects the character's personal narrative. From the start, be sure to work from a clear brief. Get under the skin of your character, get to know them through and through.
What makes your characters tick? What are their hobbies? Who is their favourite musician? Who were they in the ‘classroom’ (geek, jock, "it girl", etc etc)? Even if these ‘insights’ have no place in the story they are still important to inform your character.
Begin with a Moodboard
|Latin girl by Verdiana Pagnano|
Once you have a nice broad range of images you can pick and choose some ‘accents’ that can help create a cohesive design aesthetic linking both characters and backgrounds (a good example of this is Disney’s Hercules).
Now you have a solid understanding of your character and their ‘world’ you can begin to put together a character mood board - put together a Pinterest board and fill it up with images you feel connect to your character. (ask questions like who would play them in a live action film, what kind of clothes would they wear? What kind of clothes are suitable within their environment/time etc. etc. etc.). Depending on how many images you find, you may need to refine the number down . Once you have a nice selection of images put them into a mood board.
|Character Lineup by Joshua Howland-Roohi|
Now you can begin to design your character - The key thing to remember when designing is the rule of K.I.S.S (acronym for Keep it Simple Stupid). Always consider that you, as a character designer, form part of a bigger pipeline. Design your characters appropriately for the software you are using, and be wary of adding too many details. An animator/designer/modeler will be cursing your name if you needlessly complicate the characters, and the audience will be distracted by too much ‘fluff’.
|"Chief of the Tribe" by Natalya Ropotova|
To help simplify your designs the key things to consider are:
- Shape language
- Cognitive bias.
|Turnaround by Sara Sally|
Colour theory; Always be considerate of colour in the creation of a character - be aware of how your choice of colours which make up their clothing, skin tone/parlour even choice of eye colour can hold power when reflecting the temperament of your character. Be especially aware of the use of cool-vs-warm colours.
Throughout the design process be aware of the volumes of your characters - where do they carry their weight from and where does it sit on their frame. Being thoughtful of this from the moment of conception will help no end when it comes to pulling a turnaround off of your hero pose.
|Cat by Aimee Rose-Schiel|
Life drawing classes and gesture drawing classes should not be neglected. These are important to get students thinking about the power of poses.
I also think it is of major importance to have the students design outside of their comfort zone. As a tutor, I might give students a defined brief to design, or perhaps have the students set each other a character brief. This allows students to adopt different styles and be more considerate as an artist of what best fits the brief - not to just answer each one with their own preference of style/approach."
About Steve Sole
Steven Sole has over a dozen years of studio experience across various positions in both broadcast and web animation. Recent work includes Art Director and Designer on Mr Bean at Tiger Aspect Productions.
Steve specialises in Concept Art, Character Design and Illustration. Steven also develops on short film ideas, music videos and is skilled with Zbrush and Mud Box. To see more of Steven's work, visit his official site.