Character Concept designing

Developing concept of a character is not just about developing a figure; a character has its own shape, personality and features. While designing character concept one need to consider various factors which help in developing character. There could be living things like animals, birds, humans or any fantasy based character like alien which will have life. There is also concept of designing Props like weapons, wagons, castles which can be living or non living things so before conceptualizing a Cartoon Character you must consider following features of a character.


Proportion, Shape and Skeleton of a Character

Most cartoon characters do not look very realistic; however, their proportions and shapes are determined by realistic principles. Take references and determine which shapes you would like to achieve a "cartoony" look. Anatomy has to be adequate but you can change shape for cartoon look. For example a robotic character look like dog is having dog anatomy and body shape. 


Mass and weight of character

Mass and weight of character determine their size and appearance and help in animation. A Character with more weight and mass will do fewer movements where as character with less weight and mass will do quick and fast movement. 

Mass and weight

Mood and Facial expression

The ability to draw a character, while a great accomplishment, is, however, of little avail unless one also can give portrait values—expression and character—to his subjects. Facial expression makes a character drawing alive.  Mood of a character is reflected by his facial expressions and help audience to understand what character want to communicate. 

 Mood and facial expression


The word attitude itself has a list of various meanings when someone says change your attitude; bad, controlling, polarizing, upset, apathetic, down, or many other single word adjuncts. Your attitude is amazing; great, happy, joyful, compromising, friendly, hopeful and this list also can go on.  Attitude can be positive or negative and is must to determine what kind of attitude your character is having. This also help in determining whether character is hero or villen, whether he is weak or strong or timid. 


Body language

Body language of character shows his actions. Attitude, gestures, movements and facial expressions, all comes under body language and help character to do actions and movements. While speaking and reacting on something body language help to bring out desired emotion. Without body language a character will be dead. 

Body language


Choosing a perspective means choosing character to tell a story.  Perspective make understand characters problem, goal, what character want, how character will solve problem, what will be the result of his actions. 



Attire of a character determines his status, culture, background and actions. Clothing, makeup, jewelries, accessories all comes under attire of a character. 



What role your character is going to play, has to be clearly defined. This will make audience understand what your character does. 


 Character Design Process

I’m going to explain the process of my character design step by step using one of my designed characters.

I start designing a character from scribbles. Scribbles help me to go versatile on designing a character. I know what I’m going to design, but the scribble that I make at the very beginning doesn’t look all similar to the final character every time. 

Start Scribble 

While doing this one I do use my complete freedom and draw anything without following any rules of art. But most of the time I really have to be more careful when some specifications about the character are given. 


After I’m done with scribble, I look for best suitable lines among all these scribbles which are matching with the character or the features of the character I visualized. 

Then I erase all the scribbles except that section which I require for my design. 

Step 2


In this step I draw the character concept over the scribble layer.

Step 3

After a mere clean up my character concept was something like this. 

Step 4

I came up with this character concept from the scribble I made earlier. I would have stopped here with this Viking guy, and gone for final sketch, but I wanted to make some animal character of this genre. So I developed another concept of “Viking Duck”.

Viking Duck Concept 

Step 5

After clean up of concept art what I got was this.

 Finishing Step

Now the Viking Duck concept is ready for coloring process.


In Photoshop, below this line drawing layer I started making color blocking, using pen tool. After blocking what I got was, this.

Colouring Artwork


In this step I planned to have a basic light source from top right corner of the character. According to the position of light I modified the character from color blocking version to this one below. 


In this step I used two other secondary colored light sources.  Blue from top right corner of the character and red from top left corner of the character. Just to get a visual appeal I made a texture background behind the character, which helps the character to stand out. 

Final composition

Hope this will help you doing character design!


Artist Profile 

Apurba Debnath

Apurba Debnath is a Concept Artist, Visualiser, character designer and game artist at “Chayowo Games” in Kerala for iphone game development. He has worked on 5 iphone game titles which are in progress except one which is already on the Appstore.

Apurba Debnath is basically from Belonia, South Tripura District, Tripura. He did B.Sc. Microbiology from Hindustan College of Arts and Science, Chennai and P.G. Diploma in 3D animation from Image College of Arts, Animation and Technology, Chennai.

Apurba says “I got my start in character design through my fascination with Cartoon network animated series like Dexter’s lab, Samurai jack and lot more retro cartoons. After that I started focusing more on detailed character design instead of retro character designs. Some great character designers like Dennis Zilber, Nicolas Marlet, Pascal Campion inspired me a lot in this new style of Character Designing. My hobby of watching cartoons, reading comics, watching action movies also helped me a lot to shape my character designs in my mind.” 

animationsupplement.com @2012 all images copyright @Apurba Debnath, should not be used without permission.

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