Tips for Character Design

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Almost everyone can recall a memorable cartoon character, but did you ever ask yourself how these characters come to life? Extensive research and a lot of love goes into creating recognizable, likable, and iconic characters.


Pick a Theme



Starting a new character design can feel like staring at a blank canvas. It might seem daunting at first but the process is exciting. Planning your character is the first step. In the initial design stage, consider what you might want your audience to see and feel the moment they look at your character. Let this idea guide your character’s development.


Create a backstory



A backstory comprises the character’s history and establishes their unique motivations, quirks, likes and dislikes. To develop a believable backstory, you should research the professions, cultures, places, etc. relevant to your character. Getting to know your character is like making a new friend. In order to successfully translate the character and backstory into a drawing you should know every detail about them. The general questions below will aid in the early stages of character design.

What is their favorite color?

Who is their best friend?

What foods do they enjoy?


As your character develops ask yourself more specific questions such as “How might they react to ___?”



Give Your Character a Personality and a Name



People connect to personalities. Do you see someone you know or even yourself in your character? Understand your character’s personality on an intimate level—from the kind of jokes they would make to the friendships they maintain. In the long run, the more you know about your character the better they will translate to an audience.


Choose a Species



Is your character an animal or is it human? Maybe another species entirely! When choosing a species consider your artistic strengths and anatomical knowledge.


Select a color



Colour influences the overall mood of your character. Bright colors are typically interpreted as energetic and happy while dark colors are more mysterious. Experimenting with colors you would not usually consider is a fantastic way to develop unique and eye-catching characters.



Dress Your Character



Much can be derived from a character by their dress. Designing your character’s clothing is an opportunity to apply your unique sense of style!  Choose an outfit that is easy enough to recreate because you will have to draw it many times at various angles.


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