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Character Design

Process Recording:

Project Abstract

This is a single-day exercise project that practices the entire workflow of designing an Anime character. It includes the steps from the early concept design, to the character portrait and finally a design document for a character. The design is completed in Shanghai, so the ancillary texts are mostly Chinese.

Design Strategy

A good character design, no matter what it is supposed to be, what purpose the character is designed for, should has a well-recognized basic shapes. These shapes should be as simple as possible. Rather than having details everywhere, the silhoutte should be neat and easily readable.

Therefore, I started sketching some drafts of some characters to get some inspiration. I searched for some reference resources, but did not try to reference even a single concept from them. I only wanted to find some generalized shapes from these good designs.

Generally my character design follows the steps in the above video. However, for this project I wanted to design a human character. More like some (more ordinary) characters that can appear in an Anime, instead of some very abstract, cool concept characters. 

For this project, I started with the following human standing positions. A boy on the left and a tall girl(or a woman) on the right.


Then adding basic shapes, such as rectangle, triangle, or circle to the shapes. Also notice how to balance the weights of each parts, so that the figure looks solid and has a rhythm.

Now the left things for designing these characters is to decide a theme for each of them, and start to fill in details. Notice that details cannot be applied everywhere. Just as how shapes have rhythms, details should also have rhythms controlled by the amount.

Finally, fill in enough details and clean up the lineart, I derived the following four drafts.


After finishing the draft, I decided to proceed with the boy character in the second proposal: the triangle characters. They are relatively controllable with respect to the amount of details, and most of elements are character details and clothes details, instead of machinary details that are widely appeared in the steampunk plan and the future machine plan. On the other hand, such a proposal still allows some interesting variations. For example, I can design around the scroll on his back - is it a map? is it a weapon? can it vary in shapes? sizes? 

With the ideas in mind, I create the following 4 proposals for a final portrait pose.


Before the final finish, I need to make a more specified regulations for the character. Namely, the details of the elements with the character(for example, the details of the scroll), or more basically, the color of the character.