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Designing Characters

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When designing character’s for a Webcomic there are a few things to keep in mind.

 

Are they Memorable?

Give your characters something iconic that truly fits them. There’s a reason why we remember certain characters like Ariel from The Little Mermaid’s bright red hair or Megamind’s big expressive eyes. You can accomplish this in many different ways from adding big bushy hair, vibrant purple eyes, or a wilting posture. There are even subliminal ways of accomplishing this as well. In my Webcomic Thorns my main character Maerkis was designed to have a consistent dynamic flow in his clothing. This is to reflect his grace and ease of travel. Just make sure whatever you choose makes sense for your character to have. If you have a shy reserved girl I doubt she would wear ruby red lipstick that pokes her out of a crowd when she’d just assume blend in.

 

Is it Simple Enough?

Details are always nice but a pain to consistently draw over and over. Truth be told your viewer rarely takes the time to appreciate each panels’ detail work. Put on an animator hat and think from their standpoint. Drawing cels over and over is a lot like doing panels for a Webcomic (Okay it’s really not, but let’s pretend it is). Both require drawing elements repeatedly over a length of time. You want it to be effortless. So keep the details minimal.

 

Now let me give you the proper way of breaking this rule. It is okay to add over excessive details in selected panels. Examples include establishing, dynamic, or introduction shots. What all these shots have in common is your making a point in showing these details for a purpose. By doing this you train your viewer to appreciate the times you do make the effort. An example would be when you introduce a character wearing an expensive elaborate coat complete with embossed buttons, intricate pockets, and frayed stitching along the seams. You would end up with two versions: The detail heavy, and a simplified version to use in continuing panels. The viewer will already get the idea of how elaborate the coat is since you made a point to let them know.

 

Note: You can do the same with your backgrounds as well.

 

Is it Relatable?

People like to compare everything (I have a friend that does nothing but this with any image, concept, etc. It’s extremely annoying, but useful). Not only does it create a safe haven for the viewer, but it makes them feel special. Most times it’s from a story or movie that stuck out to them enough to remember to compare the two. I feel if it was a strong enough impact for them to remember there had to be something that resonated with them. The viewer likes to think they have something in common or interest with your character/s which helps them feel connected and more willing to go on the journey.

 

What are the Differences?

Each character in your Webcomic should be different enough from the another so the viewer doesn’t get confused. We know in real life no one person looks exactly the same. Changing a characters hair color is not enough. What about the size of lips, eyebrows, body proportions, etc. Don’t give into laziness. Create some variety.

 

Is it Consistent?

I stated above that your characters should be different from each other. Now I need to make the point of maintaining your established design throughout. Your characters need to feel like their all apart of the same “world.” An example would be if you’ve established an angular way of drawing a character you need to do this same type of technique with others. Imagine seeing Kuzco from the Emperor’s New Groove in a movie with Pocahontas. There would be an odd couple that would stick out like a sore thumb (Yes, I love puns if you haven’t figured it out by now).

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