Are you curious about what goes into creating a memorable character through animation character design?
Look no further. A skilled anime character designer uses fundamental character design principles and puts a lot of thought into bringing characters to life in a believable and engaging way. From Maui in “Moana” to the iconic characters from “The Simpsons” and “The Incredibles,” characters are designed to effectively convey the story they are part of.
Today, character design is an essential skill across various domains, including entertainment, media, advertisement, marketing, education, and more. If you want to learn how to design a character, here are the key steps to follow.
5 Steps how to Design a Character
Step 1 – Define the character’s purpose.
The very first step to designing a character is to define the purpose of the character. It’s the purpose that will move the plot forward, bring conflicts in the story and more.
Defining the purpose makes the character believable so the audience can relate and engage with the character.
Examples of the purpose of a character can be,
- Protagonist – The main character, typically a hero or heroine, who solves the conflict.
- Antagonist – Primarily the villain in the story who creates the obstacle for the lead character.
- Supporting character – secondary to the story but provides depth and direction to the story.
- Love interest – Romantic partner of the protagonist.
- Mentor – Who provides guidance and support to the protagonist.
Step 2 – Ideate the character’s personality
The second step when designing a character is determining its personality. This makes the character more believable, consistent and engaging.
You can ideate the following things to determine your character’s personality.
- Background and history – past experience and upbringing that affected the character.
- Traits – Is your character brave, loyal, kind or has negative traits like selfishness and impulsivity?
- Motivation – what motivates your character, whether it is his dreams or poor situation.
- Relationship – Consider your character’s relationship with those around it.
Step 3- Sketch the character’s appearance.
Your character’s appearance tells a lot about the personality and purpose of the story.
Once you are equipped with the purpose and personality of your character, find inspiration to draw the character out of your mind and bring it into reality.
- Take inspiration from real-world people you meet.
- Use visual cues that coincide with the role. For e.g., A serious character may wear a suit, whereas a jolly character may wear a flower-printed shirt.
- Experiment with the shape, colors, and styles until you find them similar to how you defined them in your mind.
Step 4- Develop a backstory for the character.
With purpose, personality and some sketches of the character, now is the step to develop a backstory of the designed character.
Some elements of the backstory may include
- Educational or career history
- Family and Birth history
- Significant life events
- Relationships with lovers and friends.
- Goals and aspirations, etc.
Step 5- Refine and finalize the character.
Return to the above steps and refine your character unless you get your first few drafts. It is best to get it reviewed by a general audience. It can be friends, family or a mentor.
And finally, finalize the sketch of your unique character that will perfectly fit into the story that feels as real as a human and not just an animation.
How was the character of ‘Tony Stark’ designed?
- Purpose: A protagonist
- Personality: A wealthy and powerful man. However, he is a flawed character who struggles with alcoholism, romantic relationships, and his own mortality.
- Appearance: Billionaire businessman in suits. He is also a brilliant scientist and has advanced weapons.
- Backstory: He was injured during a weapons demonstration and was forced to build a suit of armour to save his life. The suit was equipped with advanced technology that gave him superhuman abilities.
- Finalise: You have Tony Stark
Key Elements is used for Animation character design
One must consider certain key elements when making actual sketches of your character. These elements help design a well-round, visually appealing character design.
The shape and silhouette of the character are important elements in creating uniquely recognisable characters.
For example, the silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s ears or Superman’s flying cape is easily recognisable.
This element of character design refers to the relative size of its different body parts. It reflects a sense of balance or imbalance in the character.
For example, a muscular upper body reflects a strong character, wherever a big tummy can make the character funny.
3. Gestures and postures
How your character walks, moves, or stands can tell much about the personality and the background.
For example, a high-heel walk with elegant hand movements and high held chin may reflect a rich woman.
4. Costume and accessories
Costumes give tremendous information about the profession and family background of your character.
For example, a man in a lab coat conveys being a scientist, whereas a man in a suit reflects a rich businessman. Similarly, a horn on the head or a mole on the cheek can quickly conserve the character negatively.
Becoming a professional character designer takes time, dedication, and specific skills.
On your path to becoming a professional character designer, you will need various skills, including drawing, sketching, colour theory, and 3D modelling. 5. Other
Elements, such as facial expressions, colours, anatomy, etc., tell much about the character. These elements should be experimented with to enhance the engagement of your character.
Tips to Design a memorable anime character
- Learn the basic character design principles. They are a must.
- Know your audience and focus on creating a character that appeals to them.
- Start with a concept to guide your design choices
- Look for inspiration in art, fashion, and pop culture
- Experiment with different shapes, poses, and expressions to find what you want.
- Pay attention to character proportions to look balanced and believable.
- Focus on small features such as eye shape, hairs, and movements
- Iterate and refine the design.
- But don’t lose the original idea.
- Seek feedback from others with a good eye for design.
Want to design anime characters like professionals?
Tron School of Animation, Pune, has advanced studios, expert teachers and placement assistance. You can practice your hands on advanced software and kick-start your animation career successfully at Tron.
With various short-term and long-term courses/degrees in 2D, 3D, VFX, Game Designing, and Metaverse to practice and develop these skills through formal education.
Discover the course curriculum and range of software taught at Tron School
FAQs on how to design Characters:
1. What is a good animation character?
All the good animation characters have one thing in common. They feel like a real human we know, not just animation. They have a personality and a background story.
2. What are the 5 steps to creating an amazing character?
Step 1: Define the purpose
Step 2: Define the personality
Step 3: Sketch the appearance
Step 4: Develop a backstory
Step 5: Refine and finalize
3. Can I design my own animation character?
Yes, one can definitely design their own unique character by using their creativity and imagination. It is best to take inspiration and practice character design regularly to master the craft.
4. How do you decide a character’s appearance?
The character’s appearance can be defined based on the purpose and personality of the character. For example, wearing a cape or customized costume will do the work if the character is a superhero.
5. How to design a character with personality?
Designing a character with personality requires developing past experiences, counting traits like kindness, bravery, etc., relationships with other characters, along with goals and aspirations.
6. How to develop a unique character?
Take inspiration from unique arts, personalities and visuals. Start with a purpose and build up to create a character with a unique purpose, personality traits and background.