Character design for animation


Creating characters for animation and cartoons are things that we have always been interested in since childhood. They are wild, unpredictable, and unreal, and we have grown attached to these cartoon characters, and in fact, they are never completely removed from our hearts and souls. This is why even as adults we may find a character that reminds us of ourselves, or something we would like to be.

Therefore, good character design shows that your design should be in such a way that people can connect with it and be attracted to it.
The main issue is communicating with that character, which can come from the way that character talks, walks, or thinks. Character design should lead to the production of memorable and attractive characters, whether these characters are negative or positive, happy or sad.

One of the popular branches of the graphic world is character design. The profession has a long history in a variety of entertainment fields, including filmmaking, animation, video games, and comic books. Character design requires knowledge and skills in various fields, including ideation and creation of a character, drawing and designing and embodying it. In this article, we will get to know more about character design, its principles and learning method from Veera Web Apadana.


What is character design training and what does it mean?


Character design is the process of creating and drawing a character in a visual story and the result of planning, ideation and artistic abilities. For this reason, character design is more complicated than it seems at first glance. Your design should tell who the character is, and this means that the designer should be very capable in using visual elements such as facial expression, body posture, color and clothes in order to display the character traits well.

Also, sometimes you need to think about technical aspects as well. For example, if you’re designing for an animation, you’ll need to consider whether the character will be easy to animate. Also, the character should be original and show off your design style.

Fortunately, character design is a time-honored process, and there are tips and tutorials available that can guide designers from concept to completion. Of course, each artist will have a different approach to the design process based on their preference and ability.


All kinds of characters


Characters are often used on screen in cartoons, movies, and games. But others are also designed for different types of books such as comic or children’s books or illustrated stories. Which media the character is displayed in has an effect on the type of character you design.

There’s a reason why cartoon characters are so simplified, while Disney characters are more complex. It’s not that Cartoon Network is lazy, it’s that there has to be a balance between what a character has to show, the level of detail that the medium of the story provides, and telling the story quickly with the fewest resources.

A character designer’s imagination can nurture countless types of ideas and achieve a final product. But all types of characters can be divided into the following four categories.

Human-like character: This type of character can have distortions and distinctions compared to humans, but its overall appearance is human. Due to the need to work with anatomy, this type of character design is more complicated than others.
Animal-like character: The character designer can display any animal he wants and add a cartoon or human touch to it.
Mechanical character: This type of character should be designed with thoughtful details. For example, Transformers are a type of mechanical characters.
Abstract characters: This type of characters can be made of different shapes such as square or cube or not have a specific shape. Everything depends on the designer’s decision and imagination.


Stages of character design


At the beginning of the learning process, it is necessary to have an overview of all the stages of the character design process.

Ideation: This stage includes thinking about the character’s background, the character of the world around him, the character’s personality and goals, and other internal characteristics.
Research: Before starting the design, you should research about the audience community. Also, it is necessary to collect information, reference images and other examples of work according to the idea you have so that you have a source of inspiration.
Choosing a design tool: Choose the best tool for design. In addition to manual design features, this device often includes a design software.
Initial Design: This stage includes the design of small and quick images. The main focus is on the shape and overall composition of the character.
Detail design: At this stage, the character’s pose, clothes and other details of his appearance are discussed.
Character rendering: After processing the details and finalizing the design, it is time to digitize the design. Then adding light shade and coloring is done.
Add background: In this step you decide on the background of the character.


Character background


If you are going to design a character for a client, part of this step is done by the information they give you, such as the context in which the character will be used, the audience and the work style. But the fact that the employer or the writer has already created a story for the character does not mean that the artist is not responsible for the work. Basic information is often brief, and sometimes the employer can’t express everything in terms of art.

As such, it is often up to the illustrator to interpret the brief

, ask the right questions, read between the lines, and turn the client’s descriptions into key character traits. Of course, your ideas should not conflict with the employer’s information, but remember that you are the expert. In many cases, the employer expects you to expand on the idea in new ways that he had not thought of.

If you haven’t been given a summary of the basic information (maybe even if you have), it’s a good idea to create one yourself. The goal is to write a short note of less than a paragraph that outlines the character: where they come from, what their goals are, what makes them special. These questions can be helpful in creating a preliminary summary.

To define a character’s background, think of your character as existing before you started drawing. Then answer the following questions.

In your character’s world, where exactly is he from?
What important events have happened to him in the past?
How have these events changed his character?
Who are his friends and family?
Where do they live now?
what’s his job?

Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. But as long as these quests help pay off your character and you’re having fun with it, you can do it. However, you shouldn’t stop too much at this stage, especially since sometimes creating the background of the character is more interesting than the design itself.


The world around the character


You are not supposed to paint a whole world for your character. Unless this was the design theme from the beginning. But you have to imagine this world in your mind. Your character is not just a pretty picture to look at, but a person who lives in their own world, and the world and the way they interact with it speaks volumes about who they are. The environment in which your character lives helps to be more believable in character design.

Whether you design the character first or the environment is up to you. Some build a whole universe before character creation, some do the opposite, while others do both at the same time.

Whether you design the character first or the environment is up to you. Some build a whole universe before character creation, some do the opposite, while others do both at the same time.


The character of the character


Your character’s personality is an integral part of the story that ultimately makes it memorable. Although advanced design techniques are helpful for character design, they are not enough. Because people connect with characters more than they connect with beautiful designs. A consistent personality reflected throughout your design will help people relate to your character.

Many of your character’s personality traits are revealed through their body posture, facial expressions, and clothing. Discovering this section will help you a lot in the next steps.

So make sure you understand your character’s traits before designing. You should know your character well enough to predict his reactions if he walks into a party.


Which personality pattern does your character fall into?


When designing a character, there are many character templates that you can get ideas from. Using well-known character patterns helps your design to be better understood by the audience. Of course, you should be careful not to get involved in stereotypes and imagine freely so that you can design an original character.


Research before character design


Creating unique characters from your mind can be so dreamy that it’s easy to overlook pesky considerations like research. But remember that research and imagination go hand in hand in design. Ultimately, imagination comes from your mind, and the mind draws inspiration from your knowledge and experiences in the real world.


Research the target community


Your design depends on the experience of its audience. Researching the audience that the character is supposed to communicate with forms the basis of the design process. Knowing the audience will help you decide on the appearance of the character, including its color and mood.

Employers often provide a summary of audience information, but you need to do further research such as age, gender, and location. Look for other artists who design for that audience, and the types of styles that appeal to them.


Collect reference images


Collecting reference images, or searching the Internet for related photos and artwork provides the main research tool at this stage.

It’s important to understand that using reference images for inspiration is not cheating, as long as you don’t create exact copies. Like it or not, your art is unconsciously influenced by what you’ve seen, including the work of other artists you’ve been inspired by, and incorporating a variety of references is how you consciously control that influence. Additionally, researching other artists’ work on similar concepts for similar audiences can help you see what’s common and how your character might be different.

Of course, other artists simply interpret what they see in real life into their art. Your reference material should similarly include actual photos or direct observation.

Don’t forget exaggerated, cartoony or weird characters. Try to embed them in realistic features that are easy for people to understand. Another important point is anatomy. Even if you don’t intend to kill the character

Move, you’ll indicate physicality in their posture, and you’ll need to understand how they move and distribute their weight.

A good character is recognizable yet unique. If you need to draw a giraffe, look at giraffe pictures. What are the proportions, what forms the body, how do the legs work, what is the character like when moving? The more you plan and draw variations of different features, the easier it will be to imagine and achieve the desired character.

You can find reference images from any source, including a variety of websites and even your camera roll. You can also collect reference images for anything you’re unsure about, from the character idea as a whole to specific details like clothes, hairstyles, facial expressions, poses, and more. The important thing is that each of these images helps you visualize your concept.

The number of reference images you need depends on the project and your need for information. You definitely need more than a few to get a variety of perspectives. Once you’ve gathered these materials, it can be helpful to create a collage or mood board. Just collect all the images in one document that you keep open while working on your computer.

Some artists prefer not to have an idea board at all because it can greatly affect their process. The act of committing the reference to your memory may spark more creativity in the design.

Next, it’s important to take a step back from everything you’ve found so you don’t commit one of the greatest crimes of character design: repeating what others have already done…