This video is all about my character design process for creating characters. The way I go through the process of character design. This is the third video in my how-to make manga series and it's all about creating characters and specifically on design. I got through all the things you'll need to make sure you create Cool, Interesting, and memorable characters. Using design examples from popular shows like Dragon Ball Super and Even Naruto or Boruto's Dad whichever works. I also explain my process for my own character design going into deep meaning. The Key to all of this is making super that our characters are memorable! We don't want the world to forget the hard work we have put in to create the awesome characters! So by following this video you definitely will have the character design process down and be able to use it anytime when you are creating a new character.
There was once a man who saw the world as unique. This man was deeply inspired from his futuristic world. Many people who were born into this world were uniquely a product of many ideas put into one. However, this man wanted to create something of his own. A child who was both human and machine. He took inspiration from everything to create this super child, hands, feet, insane speed this child would have everything. During this time the world would go into darkness and his creation would be the one to stop the coming threat. Now everything the man used to create this new child would save the world!
And That brings me to the topic of today's video about The Manga Character Design Process. But before we get into this video if you're new don't hesitate to hit that subscribe button like the video and hit that bell for notifications when you wanna hear things that I have to say... now let's get into it.
Hey there Everyone Its Vandel Here and this video is for people who want to elevate their character designs or are simply new to this process. If you are either of these well this is the video for you. This video is inline with my series on the steps to making manga so if you haven't seen the other steps check those out In the link below. Now, At this point in the process I would make sure to have an idea of some characters I want for my series... if you know what I mean hehe… You know when it's time to create the dialogue for the script you need an image of the character gosh. But one of the best parts of this process is the excitement to draw new characters. That excitement brews inspiration, maybe it's something you read or watched but your creative juices are flowing. But I would say lets take that excitement and find out what caused your great burst of excitement in the first place. That begins with our research.
Research Other Characters
Let's get into the Research. There are two kinds of research that I want to get into. The first kind of research looks at the characters that you like. You know characters you like [ Boob] WIth great character and design and personality [ muscles]. Research all the characters you like and create a pinterest board for all pictures you like or whatever works for you but have a place you can refer to later it will be important. Lets call it a reference board or character board whatever you want. Now what you need to do is write this part down or make mental notes about the characters you just collected. Take your time to look at the characters and see what you like about them and what you think works for them. Is it their face? is it their hair? the way they stand. The more detailed you are with figuring out what you think works the more you'll understand about your own character and their design and what works for them.
For example let's take a look at goku who has a unique spiky hair pattern. His muscle build is unique and the use of colors blue and orange make him standout and he also has his giant muscles to denote his strength. There is also Naruto who you could argue is a Goku clone but I think this is a great example of inspiration. This is enhanced, with inspiration to make a more interesting design with your character. Naruto’s spiky yellow hair shows us his rebellious nature in the beginning of the series. His orange and blue is an allude to his desire to stand out and to be noticed. But I also think it's a nice nod to goku and his color scheme which is something we will get into later. His slender build works for him being a shinobi and not a body built like goku. Can you imagine Naruto like Goku? Naruto adds flair with his unique with these whiskers on his face. So as we see here we can do this for every character breaking down what works for them to increase our ideas that we can use for our own character. This research type is to have a general understanding of what works for popular characters in the series that inspire you.
The next type of research is more specific as this will apply to your character that you want to create. Just like you did before you are going to look at characters that have some facet of what you want your character to have. So what you do next is pick as many characters as you can to find that fit what you want your character to have. For Example Big eyes, a particular style of hair, a certain accessory. For this I would recommend another pinterest board for your specific character Instead of noting what works for the character look and what you think works for your character that you have in your mind. Now you're not making a 1 for 1 translation but using reference will really help you with your creative process and expeditie it. So you can see what you need and draw it. That said not every character will have what you want or exactly what you need so I would add this to part of your research and that's to look up fashion and clothing or weapons or accessories for your character that you were unable to find. I did this in the creation of bomo in two ways. I first looked up a lot of characters that looked like Mugen from Samurai champloo so that included Devil man crybaby, and Megolo box. I mixed in the sash from Chamloo for the head band. The hair from devil man cry baby and then I needed that extra fashion so I added street clothing to add to his toughness. I might have sprinkled in a bit of blue exorcist and even some kingdom hearts in his design through those huge sneakers . I took a little bit of each character part I liked to create Bomo and that's what you can do to heighten your design but we really need to develop our ideas here and that's where we need to keep things simple
Keep It Simple
So here we are ready to put pencil to paper or apple pencil to ipad. We have our research notes from what we want in our character. We need to make a sketch of this character because they need to take from. But one of the things here is to keep it simple and not worry too much about the final result. Let's just get our character to a place where we can say we like them. Let's start with shapes and breaking them down to see what kind of build they have. Are they built, skinny, round, or fluffy and what does that do for the character in the context of our story? So normally I would think about the skeleton of my character and how big or small they are. That's something that can make them stand out very well and look at Allmight who has two very different character designs. One inspiring and the other you hope the wind doesn't blow him away and in the story we know why he is this way and that adds so much more to the design but also tells us a lot without us even needing to know when we are first introduced to it.
Now one thing as we draw as artists is we tend to add too much detail. Now I'm not saying go stick figures or not to add in some of the ideas but there is a balance and some things can come later or some ideas you have can be noted here but we just want the idea of the character. Their Hair maybe? what they wear and some important items work here, important accessories, Dont worry we will go in on that portion later but lets build that solid foundation first. Ok now you might ask isn't it important to get everything down now. Well yes but also no. That said your character as they are now has to and will change and that's ok but that's why I don't want you getting settled in their looks just yet is because I talked about it my creation of Note video but I went through about 6 - 10 drawings of characters to flesh them out to their final form. That's what I recommend you do as well but we will get more into that later.
I don't want you to get into many details of your design and keep simple because over the course of your series you will draw your main characters hundreds of times in addition to many more characters inside your manga. Now while you don't want your characters to be basic you want them to be impactful and memorable BUT also reproducible to your skills. So as you might want to go into intense detail with characters like Guts from Berserk and that's great. Your skills might not be there yet to reproduce those designs in an effective and timely manner. It's also going to be impossible or at least not worth the effort you are going to put in to do that. Again this is a balancing act that you need to find with the characters you want to create and the artistic skills you have. So try your best to keep what you want. but make sure you can do it consistently and if you can practice and adjust your design till you are able to, go for it. Ahhh how I love the challenges of balancing what you want and what you are able to do. It's a sad tragic tale.
Now this is the last piece that will help give your character .. their character. Now what do I mean by the Character let's start with the Pose [ Jojo Pose] This might be something that is a meme in the anime community. But I think the memefication of this just shows how impactful it is for a character. If you look at how a character stands you can see if they are brave, afraid , aggressive and so on. For example L from deathnote how he sits and reserved nature, The way Almight stands ready pumping his chest ready for anything or even shikamaru and his laid back look being aloof. You get a lot from a character's pose. Here you are shown the base of your character as they will have many more emotions but who they are in their neutral state will be best shown in this pose. That's why a lot of people who create their Oc’s initial drawing can seem still and stiff with not as an emotional feeling through their characters pose. It's usually the general front showing pose. But when you are showing the world your character show them someone they want to get to know more and make that interesting. because generally aspiring mangaka will hit the same pose which I think is good initially but to understand your character. Pose them in a way that lines with their personality so your viewer is interested as well as you. It's great for adding that last unsaid feeling to your character that can be conveyed to the reader. However the next part is what will show the true strength of your character's design.
Ok here lets play a game Its called Guess that character. So on the screen there will be a few characters and I want you to guess who they are don't worry I’ll give you a few seconds to guess who these characters are.. Put your guess in the comment section
Alright you probably got the 10/10 and you should have. The thing that all those characters have in common is a strong silhouette. This is the perfect test to see if your character design is strong, cover your character in black and see what stands out and what doesn't. Does the hair pop? does your character's important item stand out and what does the pose do for you to know what the character is about. Your design should stand out and should be readable to those who are viewing it. Again this goes back to the simplicity of your character and the shapes that are used to create them. Again make your character distinct and something that will catch the readers eye. But and I say this, don't just make your character unique and stand out for the sake of being flashy without reason. Your characters design is inline with your story creation. You should know why they look the way they do and rationalize within your story then go wild.
The most important part of creating the silhouette is when you subtract all the bells and whistles of your design to see what still holds up and is unique to your character design. In this way you can see the flaws of your design and what you can go back to, to tweak and make stronger and standout. This will help elevate your design to a higher level.
So Just a few mins ago I said don't make your character designs flashy. That again is in the context of making your designs flashy for the sake of doing that. But do exaggerate. I will say that make your designs unique so they have a better chance to become memorable. Think about one piece and how Echiro Oda really plays with every part of his character designs as it adds to the diversity of the characters in his world. In addition there is a consistency to that madness making it more a part of the world and thus it is normal for his style. The unique body proportions will help the visual strength of your character designs to standout. It's a hard balance but I think weaving it through some of your characters will give you a diverse ensemble as well creative looking characters. Now we need to bring all of this together into this process.
In the end we all grow and change but here is where we need to put into perspective all of what we have learned. So now that you have a loose idea of your character. What I would do at this phase is re-draw that draft we started with in the beginning and this is the beginning of our character iteration process. Instead of the full body I would begin with the head, face and hair. So let's go to the example of Siza from Note. I gave him a unique Dreadlock hairstyle style with a side fade Gotta make my man look clean. This gave his hair a dual meaning that appeals to his culture of the people he wants to save and the clean shaven look to be accepted in the workforce and society as a whole. I didn't want him to have a hardened face to allow the reader to better empathize with him. The earring he wears shows a connection to his people as its a symbol of servitude to the Varken overlords. I worked on this design a few times and then went to the full body.
This is where I played a lot with his style. I drew Siza A LOT in many different ways. I wanted his style to feel futuristic but contemporary and not someone who is sooooo detached from his cultural group. To do that I used the motif of the circle which is culturally importnat to his people and kept him connected to them. But as you can see I was trying to find a way to include it but not totally take over the design, since it could be distracting. But I was able to keep the jacket and simplify it and minimize his clothing to also add to his personality as someone who is focused but not thinking about clothes necessarily. But there are so many versions of this one character I eventually landed on this. And this is what I mean when I say iterate.
Don't just draw your character once. Sometimes you'll get it on the first try but the more time you put into your character the more variations you can see to decide that you might like more. There might also be the fact that you just like that one design you made, but the nice thing about all these designs is that you can use them in your time skip or to vary up how your character dresses. But that said I would do up to 10 and then just tournament arc it down to decide what you like. Which one do you like best let me know in the comment section down below.
Once you have decided what you want and picked a character design it's time to make a final reference sheet or what you would call a character sheet. What goes into the character sheet is up to you or to whomever you are working for. That said I think there are things that should be in the character sheet. The first part is your character… thats obvious. But really you want is a full body rendering of your character and you want the back and front of that character. You can have more angles this is just to help those who would need that reference as you will be drawing this character in many different angles. Included in this I would show the head shot since there will be times you will have close ups and such and in addition you might want to have a facial emotion chart of your character as they may go through a range of emotions during your story unless they only have one emotion or wear a mask. I think that posing will also help understand how other situations will look for your character. How will they be sad, mad, and or happy. These arent all required but the information you have on your character the less thinking on the spot or on the fly changes you'll have to make. Now with everything finalized there are a few things you might wanna think about at this point or maybe even in the iterative process.
The Cherry On Top
We have now created a solid character design through rigorous repetition and hard decisions. But one of the things I hinted at but didn't go into was the accessories. This is the most fun part of creating your character. Letting them have all this bling is great. I think I can't say don't go overboard, but do what works for your character, give them a sword, a scarf , heck put bandanas on their eyes. GOSH Why didn't I think of THAT! Sorry. That said look at everyday items and see how they can work with your character. For example I used The ring motif with Siza when he transforms and used them as his weapons and even put that in his hair. And even gave him a cloak when he transformed to make him look really cool. Lets look at my other character Bomo look at the head band earrings and even horns just to see so much there even with the torn sleeves on his hoodie all add to how awesome he is and to also show off his Besieger tattoos. So make your accessory stand out and something that can be subtle but adds to your character to make them unique and unforgettable.
This is the last part because usually in manga Color is not used too much except for your cover art and spreads normally to save money. But if you are looking to have an all color manga or just want to have that reference this is always good to have so you can know when it's time to do that. So remember we talked about Goku and Naruto earlier and how their color was used to make them show up and show out and your eye is directed to them.Your color just like everything else should reflect the character in some way and in some instances not but have it be meaningful so it is memorable.
Like for the characters of the Paranormal Club in Besiger I have the colors for each of the colors inspired by the samurai champloo but also are emblematic of their character types except for one. Can you guess who? That said Bomo is red for the rage and the other visual elements add to that bad boy aesthetic. Bat with refined aesthetic looking fancy but a bit of sleuth behind his appearance. Lastly Pix who is very bright and showy but she isn't exactly all that expressive as her palette and there is a reason for it. Like if you wanna know more about besiegers.
Alright let's put this all together. You wanna research all you can on your favorite characters and what they do well. Look at what applies to the character you want to make and use your inspiration to put that character together. Keep the design simple and keep on adding to it and make many drawings before you get to the end of that character's design. And then style them up and make them unforgettable but also don't forget to make them memorable. Yeah Memorable..
And that's all I have for you today if you made it to the end of this video you are amazing thank you again. Question: What is the hardest part in character designing? Don't forget to subscribe if you haven’t or hitting that like button and clicking that bell for notifications when you want to hear what i have to say. Alright y'all I’ll catch you in the next one. Peace BYEEEEEEE
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I create content to help Manga and Comic book Artists craft their stories and artistic skills to tell the stories they want to tell