So I wanted to show off and talk about my process for creating characters. I do a lot of work in character design since I make comics, books, and the like on commission and in my own work. Because of this, I get asked a lot at shows or conventions about how I come up with character designs. The answer is a lot of research.
When I come up with projects or series, I try and figure out the world in which the characters will inhabit first and foremost. finding photos for style guides and for reference poses help me get into the character. The example in the featured image is for a series of yokai I wanted to do a merch series of, so the research was mainly limited to character design. I researched the original book of yokai with the woodblock prints and backgrounds on the yoaki in question that I wanted in the series, taking notes about the “personalities” in the original mythos and projecting new ideas onto them that I found appealing. The Oni for example, is always portrayed in tiger striped outfits so I wanted to incorporate that into the design.
After coming up with the initial design, I take a moment to draw lots of different expressions, even more than what end up in the final reference sheet. I do this so that I can give room for the character to come to life and tell me their personality. Again, going back to the Oni, while the overall look for the character is “Intimidation,” she herself ended up being a romantic that probably reads slow burn romance novels in secret.
Now that I have a good idea of their personality, I’ll move onto the final pieces, which involves getting more reference poses and the like and throwing them into a folder on my phone titled whatever the piece is. During this process there’s somehow still a lot of trial and error, moving the pieces around until the pencil is “perfect.” By perfect, I mean, well I don’t wanna bother anymore because the deadline is approaching and well, the client needs this to be done more than they need it to be perfect.
For this one, since it’s just a pinup illustration more or less, I can focus a bit more on the emotions and allure of the character, however when it comes to comics and full blown illustration, there is one more process to the finished product. That is the story and how the emotions are conveyed to the reader. Setting moods with color, action, and the like add another layer of connection to the viewer, and thanks to doing all the work previously with facial expression sheets, mood boards and the like, getting the work to the page becomes a lot easier.
Hope this has been able to give you all a little insight into how I work! My commissions are currently open, so if you need characters designed, feel free to look through my portfolio and reach out!
Thanks again and I’ll see you in the next one!