CHARACTER DESIGN FAQ
WHAT IS A CHARACTER CONCEPT?
A character concept, or design sheet is a visual tool used to communicate information about a character. These sheets can also be used for accessories, landscapes/settings, and anything thing else pertaining to the visual aspects of your story.
They are also used to ensure character consistency between artists, and a reference for the character. Concept sheets are usually comprised of illustrations (different angles of the character), text to describe the characters, and key accessories specific to that character.
WHY MAKE A CHARACTER CONCEPT?
The main purpose of a design sheet is to communicate information. Concept sheets are usually passed on 3D artists, they would then translate the 2D drawing to a 3D model.
Communicating ideas and concepts are the focus to make the jobs of other artists and 3D animators easier. This is to replicate character consistency between the team.
"Diversity is not about how much we differ.Diversity is about embracing one another's uniqueness" --Ola Joseph
EXAMPLES OF CHARACTER CONCEPTS
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN A CHARACTER CONCEPT?
(1) A “main concept” or a main image that is focused on —this image includes a full color illustration with lighting and shadows. It is a fully rendered 2D concept. Typically a 3/4 view to communicate what the character looks like from the front and the side.
(2) A “secondary view” is a supporting view to your main concept. Usually a back view, however because the main concept is fully rendered, it is not necessary to add such a high level of detail to this view. For working concepts, the additional full color is not needed to save time; but for portfolio pieces show off and finesse ‘em as much as possible!
(3) Include callouts by showing details in special accessories, weapons, facial expressions and action poses. You can also add material previews to communicate the base colors, highlight colors and shadow colors.
HOW TO PRESENT A CHARACTER DESIGN SHEET?
Choose An Appropriate Canvas Size
Maximize the space that your design takes on screen without being too wide, too tall or too small. The recommended ratio is 16:9; and the recommended size is widescreen format or 8.5”x 11” (letter size).
Value Check Your Work
Make sure your design reads well, meaning it’s not too dark or too light. Check your background colors to ensure that the colors compliment one another. You don’t want your characters to look faded or disappear into the background. Use lights on and around the character to reinforce the silhouettes.
Add Character Descriptions
Always include legendary character descriptions without being too wordy. Let the artwork speak for itself.
"When we are talking about diversity, it is not a box to check.
It is a reality that should be deeply felt and held and valued by all of us." --Ava Duvernay
HOW TO DESIGN A CHARACTER?
WHAT IS A CHARACTER AND THEIR PURPOSE IN STORIES?
Your character is a visual container for readers and viewers to explore stories, emote emotions, and your ideas and beliefs. The characters go into the world the author creates and the audience experiences that world through the character. Your character needs a reason to exist and their reason will justify the visual motifs and aspects of that character.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN DESIGNING
(1) Think about color and light. Play with colors to get a good glimpse of what the final result will look like.
(2) Consider the character gestures and poses. Don’t be stiff. Check proportion.
(3) Construction. Use shapes or anatomy to get the basic shapes. Define facial features. Use contrasting shapes.
(4) Don’t limit yourself or overthink.
(5) Always look it up, or use references when you are unsure of ‘what something looks like’. Organize details.
(6) Composition. How we arrange the elements of our art in our canvas. The focus of the viewer.
HOW TO CREATE A CHARACTER CONCEPT?
Think In Principles. Humans have principles and values that guide their daily actions. You can use this concept in many ways, there is no right or wrong way to approach design. There are different techniques that you can explore to get the creative juices flowing. When you approach the character design process, start thinking about: the story, the character traits/values, shape language, silhouettes, the purpose of a character’s existence, exaggeration, abstraction and balance. Explore different principle processes or find a process that works for you; otherwise you may be staring at a blank page for a while.
Get to it! Be intentional and deliberate in your practice or your process of designing characters. Take action, don’t just think about it. Research and find exercises to improve your drawing skills and strengthen your character designs. We learn from experience so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, ‘mess up’, or simply try. So don’t give up!
"A man without knowledge of himself and his heritage is like a tree without roots." --Dick Gregory
WHERE TO FIND A CONCEPT ARTIST?
PHASE COMICS CREATIVE STUDIOS:
We have a plethora of visual artists and creators, ready to do-create your legendary project with you! Learn more about our process and how to connect with our team, here.
PCCS FREELANCE CREATOR NETWORK:
You can find illustrators in our creative network of BIPOC creators, here. They creators are not directly employed by Phase Comics Creative Studios, but are legendary through and through! Check them out and show them some love! You’ll be surprised at how many creators you will find within our community!
You can also check out the following platforms for freelancers:
You can always check out your favorite social media platforms like instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc and use hashtags to find some really cool illustrators. Artists usually put in their bios whether or not they are accepting commissions or projects.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN CREATING CONCEPTS
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN WORKING WITH PCCS ILLUSTRATORS?
The typical way PCCS processes working on a single illustration is the same way we approach creating books or animations.
(1) 🌑 | MEET & GREET
First we discuss the project. I like to gather information on what my client is looking for, deadlines, book/animation inspirational and information, etc.
(2) 🌒 | BRAINSTORMING
We will read, review and sit with the ideas, manuscript, and/or information for a few days to brainstorm creative visual ideas. For single illustrations, we will present you with a few rough sketch ideas; however for books and animations, we will present a rough storyboard for us to walkthrough and discuss together.
(A storyboard is a rough draft of how the book will be setup with pictures and words. Pictures are not detailed here but provide enough information for the viewer to know what is happening on each page . Some authors create their own storyboards —which we always encourage them to do because it conditions the brain to translate the words into pictures the way that that individual sees it. Learn more about storyboarding, here.
(3) 🌓 | SKETCHING
If the project is a single illustration, the storyboarding stage is replaced with the sketching stage of the project —where we review the ideas we have compiled and create sketches. For books, comics, graphic novels and animations, we will review the storyboard together and create character concepts (if needed).
If the project is rushed or has a shorter timeframe for completion , then we will skip the storyboarding stage by asking the author to create a rough storyboard or presenting a storyboard for the author (with minimal revisions because of time constraints).
“It is best to take the time to plan your book and characters if you want it to be something memorable. Often times people want to rush creating their illustrations, books and animations; then get upset when their audience is not invested in their messages or project. We are all for bargaining, but do not let pride, fear, or scarcity stop you from creating the masterpiece you deserve. Most people are trying to find the best bargain or keep everything about the book to themselves out of fear that people will take their ideas. So, unfortunately the artwork in these books suffer because the originators didn’t take the time to really share their vision with their team to create a unique experience for adults and children to enjoy.” —Tiye Samone
(4) 🌔 | REVISIONS
We will go back and forth on perfecting the sketch until you are in love with your illustration or design. Once we have a final plan for how the illustration(s) will appear in the final product, and finalized how our characters will stand apart from the crowd —we will began the line art (or inking) for the final illustrations! This is also where we will take our storyboard and fill in all the details!
For animations, we will begin drafting the animation sequences to ensure that we are showing the story the way that you want it to be seen before the final illustration review stage.
(5) 🌕 | LINE ART
Once the final line art illustrations are complete, we will begin the coloring process! First we start with base colors (or flat colors) to get an idea on how the colors flow together, and then we will add highlights and shadows for the full color illustration.
(6) 🌖 | COLORING
Once the full color illustrations are complete, we will do a final review of the illustrations to make sure that everything is perfect! We will be able to tweak everything we need to make each illustration perfect! We will send you a full pdf of the single illustration(s).
(7) 🌗 | FORMATTING
At this stage we will ensure that your illustration(s) are sized and formatted to your required specifications.
For books we will format it for web/print (depending on how and where you want it to be viewed) and typeset it (adding text). Should you choose to format your own book, no worries, we will send you the illustrations and be on standby in case you need our assistance. We will continue to final review and tweak the book until it is perfect!
(8) 🌘 | CELEBRATION
Celebrate a job well done! We will send you your final files for you to use as you please, and with your permission we will also feature and share your project with our audience to help you get the word out!
Please reach out to us if you have any questions about our process! It will be our pleasure to answer any questions that you have! Email us at PhaseComics@gmail.com .
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Check out our network of legendary creators for your next project!
Are you an artist and want to be featured on our site? Email us at PhaseComics@gmail.com
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We are all on journeys to telling AMAZING stories that the world is dying to hear. Let's work together in order to make sure that our stories have the impact that we are intending for them to make on our audiences.
Once you are happy with your manuscript, get ready for CHARACTER CONCEPTS!