Character Design: A Guide to Designing Characters

When you design a character for an upcoming project, it is not always as simple as putting pen to paper or a stylus to a digital pad. There is some level of forethought and effort necessary in order to design a character that represents your ideas and comes to life to your audience through your artwork.

As you start your character brainstorm session, there are some steps you can take to bring your ideas together and execute your design in a creative and focused manner.

How to Design a Character? Some Tips & Ideas

Before you can begin to design your character, you must consider your overall project and design approach. Each genre of artwork and design has unique elements that can be integrated when drawing your character.

Consider the type of media your character will be a part of:

  • A book or novel
  • Comic book or cartoon
  • Animation
  • Interactive Game or Series

As you begin to sketch your design, it is also important that you have an understanding of your overall project in order to bring your character to life. Think about your character and its background to ensure you are not simply drawing an image but bringing life into your character that will help you better connect with the intended audience.

Some questions you can consider when working on the design of your character are:

Will your character have movement?

This is a critical design element that should be considered in the initial stages. If you are designing a character that will need to express movement throughout a project, it is necessary that you create a design that will allow for ease of movement.

What is your character's purpose or goal within your project?

Your character's role within a project should guide your creativity in design. When you think about what your character must do or its goal, it can be easier to hone in on the elements that can allow them to engage with viewers or readers.

What makes your character unique?

The personality of your character must come through your design. You can incorporate the unique aspects of your character's persona through your choice of colors, facial expressions, movement, size, and features of your drawing.

What is the inspiration behind your character?

Everyone draws inspiration from something; whether it is another character, an object, a feeling, or imagery, there is some force behind the creation of your character. Think about the why behind your character to help you gain an understanding of what they need to come alive.

Will your character be male, female, or neutral?

While some characters will be animals or objects that may not focus on gender or require the distinction between male or female, if your design is gender-specific, it is helpful to review the elements that make a female character design or male character design distinctive from one another.  From the body's shape, size, and curvature to the facial features chosen, these elements all play a part in the overall design and approach of drawing your character.

Let the Creativity Flow

Once you have sat and thought your way through the background of your character, it is time to let your imagination shine through your artwork.

Sketch Out Options

Take some time to sketch out several initial variations of your character. Do not spend too much time on any one design just yet but focus on getting the creative flow going. Once you have a few options, narrow down your selection to one or two that you would like to expand upon.

Add in Your Details

Begin to bring your sketches to life with the addition of details, color, textures, and distinct facial features. As you begin to expand your character design, you will become invested in your character at this point, and if you were between designs, a favorite has likely emerged.


The design of a character is an exciting process that allows you to bring to life a new personality and vision. With a bit of planning and brainstorming, you will be able to create a unique, interesting, and engaging character to share with your audience.

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