What makes a good character?

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    What makes a good character?

    I've gotten to the stage where I wish to explore more with characters, so I thought I'd pop the question.

    In your opinion, what makes a good character? Is it their physical design? Their character/personality? Color pallet? Their story? Breaking the mold of stereotypes? Relatability? If they are convincing or not?

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    Quote Originally Posted by riftmaker View Post
    In your opinion, what makes a good character? Is it their physical design? Their character/personality? Color pallet? Their story? Breaking the mold of stereotypes? Relatability? If they are convincing or not?
    You've given a jumbled list of things that are too interrelated to separate out.
    The thing to remember is that all the formal elements (the "design") have to be in service to, and defined by, the conceptual ones.


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    If your character can sit in front of you and ask...

    "Do you love me?"
    "Do you hate me?
    "Do you admire me?"
    "Do you envy me?"
    "Do you feel sorry for me?"
    "Are you afraid of me?"

    and the proper answer to any of the above is supposed to be "yes," and you can honestly answer "yes," you have a good character...

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    I tend to separate good character designs with good character development.... I don't usually tend to see them go hand-in-hand... Because one is a product of the character designer while the other is a product of the storyteller...

    So to answer your question, a good character to me is the one that is personified by the story and not by the design... A good character design however enhances the personality a step further as a means to visually support the character's traits...

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    Correct anatomy, facial features, expression and hands. Designs elements should fit the characters background. Speaking of wich, when drawing/painting a character, always make up a story, what he does, why he has sertain items with him for example and why he dresses like that.

    Design elements should also fit the character, Because when you draw a ninja with Sholder plates that he-man couldn't even carry, would make the character off looking and off-role.

    thats my philosopy on this..

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    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by Ilaekae View Post
    If your character can sit in front of you and ask...

    "Do you love me?"
    "Do you hate me?
    "Do you admire me?"
    "Do you envy me?"
    "Do you feel sorry for me?"
    "Are you afraid of me?"

    and the proper answer to any of the above is supposed to be "yes," and you can honestly answer "yes," you have a good character...
    Something happened when I read this. the very ends of my skewed mouth began to bend ultimately transforming the shape or my mouth into something like a Bow on its side?

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    Unorginallity, cuz everyone is used to it and most of people like it thats why its unorginality, you can create a very good character with your personal fantasy, desires, but it will be the best only for you.. But you can make a very good char of shit with a good story, like comics for example, when you see a man with letter on his chest and with underwear on his pants it can look kinda stupid but if he's from other planet and has superpowers, can fly and so it will be fucking awesome... In the end you cant create a char wich will be liked by all.. (i think i looked stupid with this all speech)

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    Well, as artists I think we're mostly concerned with the physical design, even though it must support the character concept (like Elwell said). I think the physical design should give you a good sense of what the character is like without them needing to say or do anything. A carefully selected pose can give you clues into personality (are they shy or confident? Dangerous or loveable?). Clothing and props should give you clues into who and what they are. A mechanic obviously would carry tools, and a ninja would carry weapons. If someone is down on their luck we should be able to tell that by the clothing they wear. To me a really good design shows me not just that the character is a mechanic, but he is THIS mechanic. Maybe instead of merely carrying a wrench it can be a very specific wrench with a heart shape in the handle, a gift from a loved one. Maybe a big patch in their over alls because he keeps splitting the seat. I think you need to think deeply about the character to make them memorable, and find a way to portray it visually.

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    If your character can sit in front of you and ask...

    "Do you love me?"
    "Do you hate me?
    "Do you admire me?"
    "Do you envy me?"
    "Do you feel sorry for me?"
    "Are you afraid of me?"

    and the proper answer to any of the above is supposed to be "yes," and you can honestly answer "yes," you have a good character...
    awesome, totally agree.

    Dissect good character design.

    Make sure you look at each character in context... look at the cast of characters they stand next to, and how they contrast.

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    I'm at work right now, but I'll get back to you on this.

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    Meant to get back to this the other day...

    *ANYWAY* - this will probably be a somewhat sporadic/disjointed post at first as I'm at work, but here goes:

    In your opinion, what makes a good character? Is it their physical design? Their character/personality? Color pallet? Their story? Breaking the mold of stereotypes? Relatability? If they are convincing or not?
    The first thing is what genre are we talking about? Each one has different needs from their "characters" and are not necessarily all encompassing.

    Typically speaking most people respond well to eye candy - but eye candy does not a character make. You can create something that really looks good, but doesn't fit the bill for a character. That's what I call a stereotype. I.e. - hot chick, buff dude, wizard, warrior, lost soul, alien fighter pilot, and so on.

    All of those have potential, but they're just a rough idea - there's no character there. it's a stereotype, an assumption based on our own ideas.

    Now, consider: Jennifer, a freshman college student at the UW in Seattle Washington, moved from San Jose, California to study Marine Biology. She's five foot four, athletic, has auburn hair, with green eyes and dimples when she smiles. She also has a very engaging personality, but couldn't dress herself to save her life. She wears a friendship bracelet on her left wrist that was given to her by her sister, Kim, two weeks before she was killed in an auto accident on the 101 freeway in Los Angeles, California.

    Suddenly, the "Hot Chick" is a person, with a history, quirks, pain and personality.

    More to come - have to work for a bit.


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    Quote Originally Posted by riftmaker View Post
    In your opinion, what makes a good character? Is it their physical design? Their character/personality? Color pallet? Their story? Breaking the mold of stereotypes? Relatability? If they are convincing or not?
    All of the above are important to making a good character. One thing to keep in mind though, is that in many cases how hard it can be to make a good character depends (like what other's have said before) on the genre and the appearance of the character itself. This can be especially so in the relatability area.

    The more non-human a character is the harder you have to work to get readers/viewers to relate to the character. You can see this difficulty with the last two Pixar/Disney movies: The Incredibles was a hit, while Cars wasn't as well recieved. One of the reasons for this (besides the vastly different plots and character development itself) was because in the Incredibles the characters were human, while in Cars the characters were...well, talking cars. Let's face it, we have an much easier time relating to a human (or near human) character simply because we are human ourselves.

    Even with human/near-human characters relatibility can be a chore. Spiderman for instance is much more relatible then Superman, as Spiderman, despite being a superhero, struggles with day to day 'normal' activities (getting bills paid for instance). Superman by contrast, his biggest hurdle in 'normal day to day activities' seems to be just keeping his idenity secret (Disclaimer: I'm not an avid reader of either comic so this is based on my limited knowledge of both). So a good character usually does have some kind of struggle s/he has to deal with, a struggle that an everyday person can relate to, even experienced for him/herself.

    On character design I don't have much more to add to what other's have said. I've personally gone both ways in terms of 'design first then fill in the personality' and 'figure out the personality then design around that' roads. Sometimes both develop at the same time, which is fine as well. As long as you avoid the dreaded 'Mary Sue' for personality and design...you'll be fine.

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    In your opinion, what makes a good character? Is it their physical design? Their character/personality? Color pallet? Their story? Breaking the mold of stereotypes? Relatability? If they are convincing or not?

    My two cents.

    "God is in the details." Like any good painting, the character becomes better than the sum of its parts so all of what you said is important.

    When designing my own characters, I go through something like this.

    1. I am thinking of what their backgrounds are first so I know how to dress them. It starts very generic as I say, mayan tribe for a background and then proceed to apply a Mayan motif to how he dresses.

    2. Then i make another pass and decide what kind of character this is. Strong man, sniper, wizard, punk, and change his clothing according to the needs of what the character is. ie. pouches for wizard, no sleeves for swordsman, etc.

    3. The next pass starts to get a little more in-depth into this character. is he rich? is he clumsy? a romantic? All of these things should bring out small details that you can add. ie. a rich guy might have some gold detailing, jewellry, etc. a talented strong guy might have trophies from his conquests somewhere on his person and his clothes might be ripped from fighting (or even a broken nose!)

    We're starting to see alot of details on this character now and this should all serve to make him more unique. Relatibility is something that you think about as you get into his back-story, or with his clothes. I mean, everyone can relate to a t-shirt but not everyone to a tartan(tho I have no idea why...:p).

    colours is soemthing that should be considered within context of their background and the prominent colours of whatever that background might be, the other characters that will be interacting with(mostly just to make sure everyone isn't wearing blue), and the larger visual look of the series/game/poster as a whole. There are no rules here that I know of, but I think if you at least give each some thought, you'll end up with something that looks considered.


    Hope this helps! This was also for my own benefit.

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    Wasp

    well i am new to art so i may not be able to tell u what makes a good character as far as drawing it is concerned, but as i am an animator and an actor i can tell u whats a good character. a good character is someone which can become one with the audience, no matter whats the character of the character the thing is that it should make u feel that it is none other but u yourself. the best way to achieve this is to act the character you are designing. don't just sit and draw straight way but first feel it your self, before designing any character give it a situation and just think what will u do in that situation. my animation and acting experience says that starting straight away with character will not work its better to develop a history of character on which its strong psychological behavior will stand which makes our personality.

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    One thing that really helps any character is the ammount of information it gives about itself in a still image without having to communciate it verbally to the viewer. The more we can place them, the better the character concept. It's almost like attempted stereotyping. For example, there are things you can read just about how a person moves, looks and dresses that lets you know whether they like Metal or Hanna Montana....

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