How to make your character design attractive and interesting ?

Vivek Rai was sending me by email a pretty cool picture from a school task he had about creating characters. He asked me some tips about: How to generate ideas to create Character design ?


Vivek Rai – Initial research of character design for a school project

The whole idea is to make interesting features pop out.

To do so, we need a story. A good story gives his characters specific role and personality for each of them. This is where we get all our inspiration from to “translate” them visually.

It’s a phenomenon you find in nature. An alligator will have such feature that it will look dangerous and not friendly compared to a cute puppy we wanna hug.

I would like you to take a minute and think about it for product design. What expression, personnality would you like to give to your product creation ? How it will influence its attributes ?

I share with you the full response I have sent to Vivek below. I hope it will be also useful to you too ! 🙂

Vivek question animation character design story board.png“Hello Vivek,

If your ideas looks “too simple”, your proposals may be too common and need to be spiced up! A great way to do it is to attribute ONE MAIN ATTRIBUTE for each character you create.
Think of the Incredible family from Disney/Pixar.
Each member has its own features.
The dad is strong, proud and a lovely daddy.
His physical features: He has a big chest, he’s huge, his face is squarish but also chubby.
The mom is responsible and wish having a normal life for the family.
She’s the only one who has a more common body- even though her super power of elasticity is very cool. She’s slim though and has hips.
His daughter is shy.
She’s slim hiding behind her black hair and her power is invisibility! So she can hide whenever she doesn’t feel confortable.
Dash, the little brother is fast, hyperactive, love sports, love competition, he’s spontaneous…!
His small and his main power is speed! Like the mouse Speedy Gonzales.
the incredibles character design research from pixar
For each attribute you give, stick to them.
So everything will make sense, and the story will be easy to understand for your audience.
If there is anything you wanna add just because it looks cool, you have to think twice about it. If it doesn’t bring value or make sense to the story. Remove it. It mlight be noise. Remember that : “Less is more.” 🙂
My tip is: Before drawing anything. Ask and find the MAIN attribute first. Think of your character personality. What was his past story? Where does he come from? What does he dream of ?
When you are ready,  start drawing many doodles exploring different alternatives !
An other TIP for your HERO to be even more lovable: Think of his WEAKNESS!
Any hero is lovable because he has a weak point. No one is perfect. So people can relate more to the hero.
Judy Hoops, the rabbit of Zootopia wants to become Police officer but she’s weak and small! However she’s smart, courageous, ressourceful, and has a strong sense of justice.
zootopia rabbit expression a
Ratatouille. It’s a rat that has a super sense of smell and he can cook! So his dream is working in a 3 star restaurant!! Nobody believe in him. And they use his super sense to detect poisonous food. Super extreme, and super catching story. Everybody will wonder. How is that possible? So we wanna see all the obstacles he’s gonna meet. Because he’s not perfect, and it’s an uncommon situation.
Ratatouille character design.png
A great characters has a goal, a passion, a strong belief that will face obstacles along the story despite of its weakness.
To learn further, I recommend you to discover and buy your favourite artbooks from the closest book shop from the cinema corner. You can see more on the article about the artbooks here.
Hope it helps!
PS : All design domain are related. Even though your major may be product design, open your field of discovery to architecture, animation, video games, movies… and so on. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

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About The Author


Hello! My name is Chou-Tac. I am a Product Designer from France. If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my industrial design career, I believe that they can also help you reach your design goal as a student or professional. My aim to help you all along with your design projects and journey. Anytime, feel free to leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at : )

1 Comment

  • Michail

    Reply Reply May 21, 2018

    Nice! I think this idea could be used not only for characters but for everything we draw or create.

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