What does a character designer do?
Character designers visualise and create the look of individual characters. They work from descriptions given to them by the director. These might include notes on a character’s personality as well as physical traits. Character designers take inspiration from the script and concept art to design characters. They communicate the characters’ personalities through artwork of facial expressions and physical poses.
Character designers carry out research into the anatomy of characters and relevant fashion styles to inform their work. This role relies heavily on drawing ability. Characters are drawn on paper or digitally. Character designers create a variety of designs, usually including multiple designs for a single character. They present these to the director and address any of the director’s feedback to achieve a result that they are happy with.
Once a design has been approved, character designers create ‘model sheets’ which show the character from different angles. In 3D animation, these will be used by the modellers to create the characters. In 2D animation, the animator uses the model sheets to ensure each frame of animation is “on model”. Storyboard artistswill also look at these designs to incorporate them into their work as the project progresses. Character designers are often employed by an animation studio rather than freelancing.
What’s a character designer good at?
- Drawing: have a very high level of technical skill, be able to create work in a variety of styles showing strong attention to detail
- Creativity: use your imagination to come up with original and innovative ideas and create work that sparks the director’s imagination and that helps to tell a story
- Collaboration: understand what the directorwants and be able to take and act on feedback to alter your designs, and work well with other artists and designers
- Understanding of the pipeline: know the capabilities of the animatorsand create designs appropriate for the medium of the project
- Watching animations: have a passion for the medium and a love of the industry