What is character design?

Jaysen Batchelor
A free video tutorial from Jaysen Batchelor
Illustrator & Designer
4.5 instructor rating • 13 courses • 606,493 students

Lecture description

In this lecture I'll teach you all about character design and what you need to understand about it. I'll go over all the different components that make up a strong character design, and how character design is a form of story telling. 

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The Ultimate 2D Game Character Design & Animation Course

Learn how to design and animate a character in Photoshop that can stand up as professional work

05:22:20 of on-demand video • Updated November 2016

  • Design your own character
  • Build your character in Photoshop
  • Animate your character for a 2D game
English [Auto] So what is character design character design is much more than just the colors and shapes of a character. It's about telling a story it's about telling a story through the emotions through the facial expressions the body language the costume of the character. It's definitely what character design is all about. Now that's not to say that the colors and the shapes of the character aren't important because they are that's what makes a character iconic are their colors and shapes but when you're trying to make a character likable it's all about their story and the emotions that they're giving off. Walt Disney was actually one of the first people to put emotion and depth into his characters before his cartoons came along. Many other cartoons were just very simple and all they did were jokes and gags. They didn't have any story behind them or any real true emotion. You didn't relate to them at all. So what do I mean when I say that the character is telling a story. I don't mean that they're literally telling you a story but I do mean that they're telling you a story through the way they're dressed through their facial expressions their body posture their surroundings everything it all tells a story. And that's what it's all about. That's what's going to make your character likable. Let me show you some examples. So right here you can see that I have some character designs that I did in the past. The first one is a girl with blue hair. Her name is Summer. Now the first things that jump out at you are obviously that she has the blue hair and she has an orange dress. She also has blue eyes and very red lips. Now these are all things that make her iconic because these are shapes and colors. There are things that people are going to remember and a picture when they think of your character but they're only going to think of your character if they like your character. And so that all comes down to the emotions that are giving off and the story they're telling you. So if we have a look at her what kind of story is she telling you. Well for me I think that she's telling a story that for one she has a friend. Why do I think this. Well obviously she has a toad on her head and it appears that this toad could be our friend or her pet because if we have a look at her face which is her facial expressions you see that she's not scared she's not disgusted she's actually seems pretty happy and pretty content. She seems like this is a normal thing for her to have this toad on her head which leads me to believe that she's probably friends with this toad and it's probably her pet if we also have a look at her body language her body language says that she's a little perky and a little happy. She's also not disgusted by this toad by the way her body language is saying things also if you have a look at our costume first one of the first things I notice is that she's wearing a satchel. Now she could just be carrying a satchel around but this kind of indicates to me that she has some sort of an adventure or an adventurous girl. Another thing that you notice is she has rolled up sleeves now rather than having her sleeves rolled down or having short sleeved shirt. She has a long sleeve shirt with rolled up sleeves. Now this is kind of symbolic of a hard worker or somebody that's not afraid to get down and dirty somebody that's not afraid of an adventure. So this also leads me to believe that she's possibly an and adventurous girl. So like I said all these things are really telling a story. Now I encourage you to look up other characters that you like and look at their characters and study their facial expressions and body postures and see what kind of stories they're telling. You're going to start looking around and seeing stories everywhere from all different types of characters. Let's have a look at the second character that I've designed. So this is a French bulldog that I designed a while back ago. If we look at them obviously the shapes of this character and the colors make them very iconic. It's very simple it's pink black and white and that the shapes are also very simple. We have a square head kind of a square body oval legs oval ears very iconic very simple now. But what kind of story is this character telling through his body language through his expression because his dog isn't wearing any clothes or has any type of prop around him. He can only tell his story through his facial expressions and his body posture. Have a look at his body posture. It's kind of saying that he's at attention kind of like a soldier a little bit whatever his eyes are fixated on. He's paying very close attention to it and he's interested. Another way we can tell that he's interested is his ears are very much propped up almost like he's listening. The third thing that tells us that this dog is very interested in whatever he's paying attention to is that his head is slightly tilted. You'll notice if he's studied dogs or even human babies when they're interested in something or when they're paying attention to something they'll very often tilt their heads. This is also something that a lot of humans do subconsciously when they're talking to friends or family and they want to show them that they're actually listening and paying attention is all slightly tilt their heads. So like I said it's all about the body language the body posture the emotions and the costume. This is what tells your character's story and tells you what kind of emotion they're evoking. I really hope this lecture was helpful for you and it gave you some really cool insight into the world of character design. Thank you for watching this lecture and I can't wait to see you in the next one.