Male Character Design: A Guide to Designing Male Characters

We look at someone, and immediately a particular impression of his character rings in our minds. Research shows that specific traits are attributed to a person based only on their appearance. The physical appearance of an individual triggers our expectations of possible qualities (e.g., opinions, attitudes, and behavior) in that person. This cognitive bias is not fair, but it is a great asset for character designers.

Character design is the process of developing and illustrating a character in any visual story. These characters may be used on-screen (such as in movies, TV shows, ad campaigns, or video games) but can also be designed for an illustrated children's book, comic book, graphic novel, etc.

How to Design Male Characters

The key to good male character design is creating a character that your audiences connect with- memorable and eye-catching. That's why you cannot rely on good character drawings alone; you must truly understand your male character's backstory and personality to resonate with your audience.

Here are key factors to consider to help you create excellent male characters:

  1. Physical Weight- The distribution of physical weight can distinguish your male characters and tell your audience something about their personality. For instance, which part of the body renders your male character easily recognizable. You may want to portray heroes with big chests, cowards on their knees, thinkers with big heads, and so on.
  2. Body Posture- Body language affects how your audience perceives your drawing, and there are many non-verbal expressions that you need to consider when designing your male character. An expanding male character design that takes space and opens up portrays power and dominance.

On the other hand, you can portray powerlessness by drawing the opposite, i.e., by designing a smaller and closed-up male image.

  1. What is Beautiful is Good- In character design, physically attractive individuals are assigned more favorable qualities, including career success, overall happiness, and personal traits and vice versa for an unattractive person. This is popularly referred to as "what is beautiful is a good stereotype" or "the halo effect," and you can use it to tell your audience more about your male character.
  2. Masculine Body Shapes- The overall shape of your male character design will speak for their personality. Shape in your design is an excellent way to communicate universally to your audience.

Some common shapes you can use in designing your male characters to resonate with the audience include:

  • Circles- Circular and curved shapes are regarded as the friendliest because they have no dangerous or sharp corners. Circular shapes are naturally harmless and soft; you can use them to invoke likable male characters in your designs.
  • Squares- square-like shapes communicate strength, confidence, and stability. They can be either comforting and clumsy or large and daunting. You can use square shapes to depict male characters who are dependable or heroes.
  • Triangles- Triangles tend to be the most dynamic of the three shapes. Dominant triangular concepts in designing appear aggressive, sinister or malicious, and you can use them to portray villains or bad guys.

Adding Male Elements

Have a look at these distinguishing features that you need to incorporate in your designs to bring out an authentic and easily identifiable male character.

  1. Masculine male features- Masculine facial features include a thicker neck, a longer nose, and thick skin, and highly set eyes. You may also want to have a strong jawline to set your character as masculine.
  2. Facial hair- More often than not, male characters feature facial hair, possibly a beard goatee or mustache. Early in your designing process, determine whether your male character has facial hair and how you can use it to speak about him. For instance, a thick beard and mustache may indicate that your male character mainly works outdoors.
  3. Proportion- Usually, a man's body size is up to seven and a half times larger than the size of his head. The shoulders are also roughly three times the width of the head, and the general body shape is succinctly stronger and blockier than a feminine body. Using the correct dimensions will help you create a proportional male character.
  4. Muscles- Males are more muscular than females, but the muscles may vary depending on the activities and roles. If you want to depict a male's muscles or natural athleticism, consider emphasizing the width of the neck, torso, and arms.
  5. Waistline- Males seldom feature a narrower waist. While feminine characters have curves, male bodies tend to adopt more straight and definite lines and have a thinner pelvis compared to women.


The kind of clothing you choose for your character should be in tandem with what you want him to represent. For instance, if you are designing an anime character, you can consider using a signature outfit or color to distinguish him and to represent a certain. E.g., red clothes for war or a white outfit to symbolize peace.

You can also choose to change the outfit for your character as the story progresses or keep it constant depending on what you want to achieve. Nevertheless, whatever your choice, keep in mind that the outfit should consistently reflect what you want to speak to your audience.


If you are looking to create great male characters, then keep the above design principles in mind as you work. Male character design is fun, and your imagination can go anywhere. So have fun and go create a fantastic character.

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