Character Design and Rotation Advice All Animators Should Know

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Some art schools require applicants to have character designs with full rotations in their art portfolios for college. Although character design is very fun to do, it is also very tricky and is definitely not easy as you may think. As a beginner, you may want to pick up some advice from professional animators on how you can do character design with rotation.

When starting with character designing, you may want to have an idea of who you want your character to be. This will help you in defining the features of your drawing of your desired character.

Using basic shapes and forms can help you when designing a character. You may use it as a base to draw the face and the body of your character. You can show your character’s personalities and emotions by playing with their facial features like their eyes or mouth. Let’s say for example you want your character to look nice, friendly and cute then you should try drawing soft and round lines.

Are you ready to do the rotations?

Character rotation is very important because it shows the structure and proportion of character from all sides for the animators to see.

Garth Laidlaw recommends that you start with the foot placements of your character when doing rotations, because it is often the hardest part to do. And he added that you may also want to draw the character from the ground going up.

A lot of people find that drawing a character’s side view seem to be the easiest and the most descriptive as well, according to Garth. He also mentioned that some artist actually starts drawing the side view first before they draw the front view.

A tip when trying to do rotations, is to break down your character into basic shapes and forms as this will be the easiest way to do all the views.

character design 1 character design 2

A Full Character Rotation includes:
Profile View
Front View
Side View
Back View
¾ Back and Front View

Gareth’s tip for students who are doing character design and rotation in their art portfolio:

  • Use a blue pencil or other light colored pencil that can be erased nicely as opposed to using a pencil with a black lead which is harder to erase.

Garth Laidlaw is a graduate of Sheridan’s acclaimed animation program. In this video, you can see Garth teaching and hanging out with PortPrep students. Watch the video to learn all his tips and techniques about character design and rotation.

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