Today’s Freeday post is a bit late as I was feeling a bit under the weather this weekend. However, I’m back with a new topic to discuss.
You may have noticed in my Throwback Thursday post, I made significant changes to a character I created several years ago. This got me thinking about the character design process in general and why certain characters in popular media look the way they do. So today’s theme is the character design process, simplified.
Cool...Where do you start?
Well, each artist has there own approach to design in general, so mine is no exception. I tend to start with a generalized theme or mood based on a few questions.
Shapes, the building blocks of all characters
All characters are created from 3 basic shapes consisting of a square, circle, or triangle. Each of these shapes reflect a general idea of a characters personality or traits; square=strong, uniform, unyielding, circle=soft, appealing, kind, triangle=dangerous, intellectual, active, etc.
By extrapolating these shapes and/or combining them, a clear and unique silhouette is created.
What’s a silhouette and why is it important?
Silhouette- a two-dimensional representation of the outline of an object, as a cutout or configurational drawing, uniformly filled in with black.
The more visually striking the silhouette is, the easier it is to read a character on screen. Take a look at the silhouettes below, can you identify which basic shapes were likely used to create these iconic characters? Do you recognize any of them?
Now that we have our silhouette or perhaps, multiple silhouettes, what’s next?
You might recall my Pinterest post from the other day regarding fashion. Which is indeed an important factor in character design, but there are many other things to consider as well.
Usually, an original character will undergo several concept passes that explore different costume and prop combinations. However, since my goal was only to redesign, I decided to skip that step. Instead, I took the opportunity to use a more anime-esque design language that is characterized by thin line weight, elongated proportions, voluminous hair, vivid colors, and glamorous eyes. To be fair, anime has its own classic tropes unique to Japanese character design. If you ever wondered why a lot of those characters use recycled hairstyles and such, take a look at the video below.
Capitalizing on all of this knowledge, I managed to convey a spunky, eccentric, perhaps even magical, pirate captain with a wee bit of elegance.
Since this post has run quite long already, I’ll save some info for another time. What do you think of my redesign? What should I draw next? Leave your comments below.