What is Character Design? <ul><li>Character design is the process of drawing and designing characters to be in things like movies, comics, graphic novels and video games. </li></ul><ul><li>In general, the designer has to make the character aesthetically pleasing to the viewer. </li></ul><ul><li>In graphic novels, a character’s design often says something for their personality or job. The designer’s job is really to capture the ‘essence’ of a character. </li></ul>
Graphic Novels: A Timeline <ul><li>Character designs were first used when comic strips began to run in newspapers. One of the earliest example of a syndicated comic strip in the newspaper is called The Yellow Kid . </li></ul><ul><li>Actual comic books started being printed around the 1930’s. </li></ul><ul><li>One of the most famous comic book characters, Superman, was introduced in 1938. </li></ul><ul><li>Comics with heroes such as Spiderman and the Fantastic Four became popular in the late 60’s to early 70’s. </li></ul><ul><li>The term ‘Graphic Novel’ started being used in the late 70’s, with Will Eisner’s A Contract With God being one of the earliest examples. </li></ul>
Some Basics of Character Design <ul><li>Details in the outfits </li></ul><ul><li>Facial marks or masks </li></ul><ul><li>High contrast on images </li></ul><ul><li>Easily distinguishable as an original design </li></ul><ul><li>Unique symbols or accessories. </li></ul>
The Best Dressed An element that makes a character interesting often lies in his or her outfit. An outfit can tell a lot about a character… dark clothes usually signify a mysterious person, while loud colors or brightness can signify a character’s open attitude. Masks are also widely used, especially in science-fiction based graphic novels. We know them best on superheroes and immediately suggest a secret identity. Masks can cover part or all of the face. Sometimes they have the same effect as dark clothing and make them more vague and mysterious. Overall, they are highly intriguing.
Designers have to be able to take critique. An important step of creating a character is to draw, analyze the work and draw again according to what the employer (or in the case of graphic novels, the writer) wants. In the case of graphic novels (as opposed to cartoons or video games), characters often have to convey a lot of feeling without a lot of color. Sometimes, the best way for the designer to make his character interesting is for him to draw the character in bold lines with high contrast. The Importance of Contrast
Scars are Cool. Scars are very common in graphic novel characters. They are yet another way to make the character totally unique. In a more metaphorical sense, they symbolize that the character leads a rough life or has suffered many hardships in his or her past.
Logos and Symbols Another way to make a character unique is to give him or her a certain logo or symbol. A bold sign makes the character easy to recognize and easy to remember. Here’s a few to prove my point:
Stuff you don’t think about: The Durability of a Character When a designer creates a character, there has to be something about it that will make it stick in the reader’s mind. Original designs that are unique enough to be easily recognized are the mark of a good character designer. Think of Bob Kane. You may have no idea who he is, but I’m sure you recognize his characters. Whether it means making something extremely cute, extremely creepy or just absurd, it’s all part of the designer’s job to make sure that the character comes alive on the page. (One hint: starts with a ‘bat,’ ends with a ‘man.’)