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What is the most important aspect character designers concentrate on when embarking on a new character design? This question recently led to a lively debate in the Linkedin group "Characters".

A number of group members immediately spoke about creating or delving into the history of a character, asking themselves questions such as "why the character does what it does". They wanted to know the purpose of the character, by studying its past, its environment, personal habits and preferences.

Story, background, motivation, objective, and purpose in the world the character inhabits were mentioned over and over again and seemed for many to be the most important starting points.

The physicality of characters was also important to some of the designers. Questions such as sex, size and level of activity, as well as what the characters needed to be able to do were considered to be important. "Each of those will give you a specific direction", said one designer.

Another issue that mattered to a few of the participants were the technical parameters. "Designing characters for traditional 2D would be fundamentally different from designing for a CG program", according to this point of view.

One contributor then asked a few questions that shifted the focus. "Who is the audience?" and "would the audience share the experiences (of the character)". Others in the group agreed that making sure you target the demographic properly is essential.


What do you think? Join our discussion and add your thoughts here.

One day Ryan's grandparents took him on his first trip to the cinema to see the "The Nightmare Before Christmas". He had seen cartoons on the television and on video tapes, but not like this. The film gripped him and ever since that day he was determined to devote his life to creating characters and visual art for animation.

bradley concept art

From then on, Ryan constantly drew and explored the land around him. He tried hard to develop a style that would show characters with personality. His process is simple... know your character, from his name to what he has in his pockets. Ryan gets inspired by anything from shapes in his cereal to the smell in his cellar. Being an artist never stops. Just like that young boy in the cinema, Ryan asks daily "What can i create? What hair style will he have?".


Soon after graduating, Ryan joined a portfolio course at a well known Scottish art school. The teachers there reminded him of the art teachers in his school. If they met Roger Rabbit in the flesh, they would try and rub him out! Ryan was saved by Will Adams and the guys at "Once Were Farmers" who took him in as a trainee and let him explore briefs and create characters his way. He worked on many projects and learned a lot. Ryan ended up working for "Axis Animation" in Glasgow and also did some work for "Red Kite" in Edinburgh.

highland ghoulB

Ryan now works as a freelancer who is as obsessed with creating, as he was that day in the cinema. Characters Engage says “Thank god for The Nightmare Before Christmas”. If you are looking for a truly exceptional young character and concept artist, here are his contact details.

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