What are characters? Think of any book or movie. The people there are characters. In the online community, creating your own characters is very common. They’re often called OC’s, from Original Character. The characters don’t always necessarily have any story behind them. What you do with them is up to the creator. Some characters only exist to be a fun design to draw, but some others have stories, that may or may not be put down into words via text, animation or comics.

Where to begin

Whatever you decide to do with your character, the first key point is gathering ideas. The initial concept may be very simple. Don’t be afraid of being a thief. It’s natural to be inspired by other works, since what’s important is what you do to differentiate your own character. It is said that everything is already invented, so mixing and matching those concepts that already exist let’s you make something unique.

A good way of brainstorming and gathering ideas is using a platform called “Pinterest.” Check out things that stem from your initial idea. If you have a setting in mind, like a forest, then look at the forest pictures. Let your mind flow and pick up things as the ball keeps rolling. Watch movies, listen to music, read books. Seeing how other people’s character act may help you. Take a shower or walk in nature. When you relax, ideas come to you easier.

Getting warmer

Once you have your ideas, you can start jotting them down. Don’t get stuck on basics. There is no set order in which you have to set your information. You don’t need for example a defined age to build upon your character. When you just keep writing down everything no matter how unimportant it seems to be, your character will start to form and write itself.

When you have feeling for your character, you can start throwing them into situations and think how they’d react. Your character is really getting better when they can even surprise you with their choices.

Splash of color

Depending on what you do with your character, the visual might come first or the other way around. Neither tactic is better than the other, it’s all up to you. Think about silhouettes. Ideally, your character should be recognizable when only their shadow is seen. Vary shapes and sizes of parts.

When it comes to coloring, be aware of balance. Often, people who are just starting to draw and create characters will focus on flashy colors and a ton of accessories. Limit the main palette to a few colors, and make sure they work together. An accent color can make it pop nicely. Keeping the design as simple as you can works wonders in most cases. As a bonus, it’s easier to draw.

Now, go and make the characters and show them off proudly!

Illustrations by Charlotte Nykvist & Zerwolf

Charlotte Nykvist

Cultural Management student from Finland. Interests include drawing, writing stories and coffee.

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