Tips for Creating a Great Character Design I

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Whether be it for games, comics, animation or merchandise, we cannot ignore the fact that good character designs play an active role in driving the sales of the product in question. While good character designs help to drive sales, great character designs grow companies and even shape the landscape of the creative industry. This is the first of 3 articles dedicated to the topic of creating great character designs and some tips to bear in mind when designing your characters.

The Core Product

What is the core product or platform which your character will be appearing on? Where will the character be seen and in what medium? This will directly affect how you should design your character, as different products will have different presentation platforms. Ideally your character should translate across several platforms to maximize its licensing potential.

Target Demography

What is your core product’s target audience? Have you considered the traits and personality that will appeal to the target audience and not only makes sense in the game, but also gives the game play a boost? Characters aimed at young children, for example, are typically designed around basic shapes and bright colours.

Licensable and Merchandisable

When designing your character, always bear in mind its potential for licensing and merchandising. It is no good if your character has limited potential to be exploited. Ask yourself these questions: Is your character charismatic as merchandise? What kind of merchandise can your character be made into? What kind of merchandise would look good with your character on it? How many different categories of merchandise can your character lend itself to?

Distinct, Different and Visually Impactful

Is your character design unique? With so many characters out there on the market, you need to ensure that your character stands out. Your character needs to be strong and interesting in a visual sense to get people’s attention. Take the Simpsons for example – the characters’ unusually bright yellow skin colour is an immediate attention grabber. Do a thorough check and be perfectly honest with yourself. Does it look distinct and different enough or does it look like something out of another game or animated series? If it even remotely resembles something else on the market, chuck it away and go straight back to the drawing board! Do not hesitate!

The Lead and the Followers

Do ensure that you differentiate your lead characters well from the supporting characters. It would be a tragedy if your lead character blends so much into the supporting cast that he fails to stand out. Even if all your characters look great, a potential licensee may end up being spoilt for choice because all your characters look great but your lead doesn’t look extra great! Licensees lose interest quickly when licensing your characters becomes too complicated for them.

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