Designing a character presents several challenges, the most significant of which is determining how to give the character personality, a challenge that is exacerbated when working with animal-based designs. Finding the line between human emotions and animal characteristics while keeping the whole design aesthetically pleasing can often be a struggle.
Getting a foundation
The first thing we did was work out a design script. These can come in many forms, but for us, it was a detailed meeting where we broke down some key objectives for the design. What did the character stand for? What will it need to do? Who is the character going to be targeting? With this information, we created mood boards and picked points from each image that we liked and highlighted things we felt could be improved on.
Putting pen to paper
Satisfied with the direction the designs should take, we created some concept designs. Each design went through its own set of changes, but the feedback received for each was kept to colleagues and friends only.
First wave of feedback
A questionnaire was created to gather demographic information and find out which design was the most popular. After filling out the basic info, users were asked to give a star rating to each design and leave comments.
There was a clear winner among the designs, along with some useful comments on how to improve it.
Implementing and advancing
Knowing which concept piece was the most popular, we began to implement feedback and complete a character turn-around and expression sheet.
How about now?
We sent out a second questionnaire, this time asking people to identify the different expressions we had illustrated and provide feedback on the overall design. We received some excellent feedback once again and considered revising the designs where our team agreed they were necessary, such as making the characters’ teeth less prominent and removing the crying laughing face from our roster of expressions we want to develop further.
Finally, we have begun to complete some key poses of our character and are looking to break these designs up into pieces ready for animation.
When developing a plan for what you want to create, working out the objectives of your design is a great way to begin. Whether a child-friendly cartoon or a piece of concept art for a horror movie, it is helpful to have a design goal and try to get as much strong feedback on your work as possible. It can be easy to get hung up on your first design and disregard constructive criticism, but often you will find if someone does not like your work, there is usually a good reason, and it can hopefully help identify what the issue is.