What to do when designing a character

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How many characters from your childhood and adulthood animated stories and videos can you recall? Characters are windows through which we can perceive stories behind the animated videos. As the audience, we can experience many worlds and stories. Characters connect with the audience that is why they play an important role in the course of producing an animated video.

People relate to characters. They remind people of themselves, their dreams, and who they really are. We bond with the characters and we cannot replace our love to them with any other thing; because they are part of our identity. This is why it is an important part of producing animated projects.

In the course of designing characters, there are some practices that are mostly missed by neglect. These practices help the character designer figure out what color, shapes, and attributes best suits the character.

Understand the story

There is always a story behind everything. In our case, without story animation would be meaningless. It is important to understand the story when designing a character. You have to put the same effort for every character in your story. No matter how much time they are present in the animated video. The amount of energy and effort that you invest in this part of designing your character will result in the gratitude of the audience and how they will remember your characters. When you have a good understanding of the story and concept, your character and sketches will properly fit the story. For example, is the character crying because he is sad or is he crying because something good has happened in his life? There are two approaches ahead when drawing these two.

There is a technique in acting called, method acting. Method acting is the actors’ 

personal experience in the role they are playing in order to imagine how their characters are feeling. Sometimes it leads to severe suffering just like Heath Ledger in the role of Joker. In order to understand the story and create the right character with the right characteristics, method acting can help. Take a camera and try to understand every bit of the story and hidden angles of the character. And record yourself on the camera. Watch it and create the ideal character.


Like everything that you want to do whether for the first time or not, you need to do a little bit of research. When you want to design a character or develop your story you need to do research about it. If your character is an animal don’t hesitate, go into nature and watch them. Watch the variety of shapes and colors they have. And how they move and behave to their biotype animals. This will help your knowledge of the world of that animal and its surroundings. Moreover, it will be added to your mental library from which you can get the best result on the course designing and creating an animated character.

Go beyond the simple sketch

After the previous steps, you probably start sketching. Just before going through sketching simple poses or those gestures that are important in the story, try to create model sheets. Draw your character in each and every position that you can, give it bizarre facial expressions and body languages. Try to breathing life to your character by easily drawing him in human-like, animal-like gestures.

Take note that, you need to draw a lot of people, things, shapes, objects, abstract elements to form your visual library of references like hairstyles, glasses, clothes, and shoes.

Animate your characters

Before going ahead to the animation production process, animate your character. See if it is believable. See if it is what you have expected to be. This is called motion test. Motion test might take your time a little bit but believe it or not it is the key to having a memorable character. When you move your character and give it different facial expressions and body languages you can easily detect the possible problems with your character.  Whereas, you can find strength points in the character that you can highlight later in the production phase.


Character design is one of the important parts of animation production. It is closely weaved to the story and they are codependent. The important thing to remember and keep in mind is that you cannot separate the story from the characters. To have a good character design you need to fully understand the story and its world.


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