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What Does a Character Designer Do?

Character design process | Max The Mutt

Even if we do say so ourselves, that’s a great question! If you’re interested in character design, you may have designed lots of your own characters. But you’ve probably not come close to doing what a character designer does.

What is Character Design?

It’ll help to talk about character design itself before we get into what a character designer does. Generally, character design is the development of new, original characters for a computer or traditional illustration or animation. Character designers may also be used to design characters for toy manufacturers.

Character designers work from a character definition that might be part of a story outline or script for a film, TV series, video game, graphic novel, or book illustration. Character styles can range from very graphic, like ‘Stewie’ on Family Guy, to photorealistic, like ‘The Incredible Hulk’.

What a Character Designer Does

Character design is firmly based in 2D drawing. Whether by hand with pencil and paper, or with digital drawing tools, a solid ability to draw, particularly human and animal anatomy, is key to being a character designer.

Among other details, the following are some of the steps a character designer takes to design a character from scratch.

  • Immerse themselves in the story or script to understand the character’s role in it.
  • Research anatomy, costuming, physical settings, time-related references (past, present, future), specific to the script and character.
  • Review concept art to understand the look and style of the project
  • Draw. And draw some more. From initial impressions of the general look of different versions of a character, to showing each character version ‘in action’, there’s lots of drawing to be done.
  • Give the character personality and believability. While not a separate step in character design, each layout must be more than a visual design of a character. Even if it’s done in stages, a believable personality must be conveyed in the design layouts.
  • Once characters are approved, the designer may be tasked with creating a model sheet of the character that shows the character from different angles
  • Some projects may need other layouts showing the character in particular poses, or expressing different moods and emotions.

This is a just a brief explanation of what a character designer does. To learn more, get in touch with Max the Mutt College of Animation & Design today.