Game Character: How To Bring Your Characters to Life

game characterOne of the most fun and exciting parts about any game can be choosing your own character.  However, have you ever taken the time to really look at the details of the different game characters used in video or computer games?

Designing a game character involves picking out and incorporating the tiniest details, such as its features, movements, background, and depth.  Despite its complexity, designing a game character can be a lot of fun as you’re bringing something to life.  If you want to learn how to tackle game character design,  we are going to give you the steps to bring a new character to life through game design.

Creating A Game Character

Determine Your Audience:  The first step in creating a game character is to determine who your game is for and what type of people are going to be playing it.  For instance, if the game you are making a character for is a young children’s game, you are going to want to make your character simple with basic shapes and bright colors.  A good way to do this is by breaking down the character’s core features and personality, and making certain key features stand out.

Medium:  When designing your game character, you will also have to think about where people are going to use it.  For instance, if your game character is being designed for an application on a mobile phone, then you will not have to put in all the detail that you would for, say, a computer or video game.  Begin by making little thumbnails, sketches, or written drafts to get your ideas down.

Research:  Now that you have an idea of who you are designing your game character for, and what medium it will be used on, take the time to think about your favorite game character designs and what worked about them for you.  There are plenty of examples that you can look towards either online or in print.  Go ahead and play your favorite video games to see what you do and do not like about certain game character designs.

Stand out:  An important thing about game characters is that they should stand out from the rest of the game.  It is likely that there are going to be other less-important characters in a game, so you are going to have to incorporate some key features and characteristics to make your game character stand out.  Make sure that the design is strong and visually interesting to players.  Think about The Simpsons characters, for instance, that are bright yellow.  How could you miss those?

Describe through Detail:  If you study other characters and how they are designed, you will pick up on the fact that a character’s composition can also work into describing its personality.  For example, thick or soft round lines can indicate a cute, approachable, and happy-go-lucky character.  On the other hand, sharp, pointy, or uneven lines can indicate an erratic and unstable character personality.  Therefore, it is important to determine your character’s personality before you go into drawing its design.

Exaggerate:  Remember that game characters are just that – characters.  Therefore, it is helpful to make them appear larger than life if need be.  This can help players or viewers identify the characteristics that you want to stand out more than others.  For instance, if you want to make sure that people know your character is strong, turn some normal-sized arms into bulging biceps so that players can know what traits a character has best.

ColorsThere are plenty of other ways to give players a feel of a character’s personality, and one of them is through colors.  Just like creating scenery, dark colors will indicate a depressed, sneaky, or malevolent character.  Lighter colors for your character, such as white, blue, or pinks, will show innocence, purity, and good intention.

game characterAccessories:  Once you have your character’s outline done, you are going to want to dress him, her, or “it” up!  A lot of their clothing will also work to put emphasis on the character’s traits and background.  For example, a poor character will have scruffy earth colored clothes, while a rich and more vibrant character will have a lot of sparkle and luxury.  Little accessories to go with your character can add personality and fun to the game as well, such as a little dog by a game character’s site, or a bird on its shoulder.

Dimension:  Think about how viewers are going to look at your game character, and decide whether or not you are going to want a 2D or 3D design.  There are certain characteristics that you might want to portray with your character depending on its design.  For instance, if you can view a character from the side, its beer belly, side profile, or large leg muscles could be visible.

Personality:  While a game character’s design is going to play into its personality, you are going to have to determine the overall personality of your character by showing how it will respond, react, and feel about certain situations that occur in the game.  Make sure that your characters do not have dull personalities, because no one will want to choose to play with them!

Facial Expression and Movements:  Because characters might not speak a lot in a game, a game character’s facial expression and movements are going to show a lot about their individual character.  You can even work to exaggerate some of these expressions, for example: have its eyes pop out when it is surprised, or allow its face to sag when it is disappointed.

6 Memorable Game Characters

If you need some character references, here are some memorable game characters to keep in mind!

  • Lara Croft from “Tomb Raider”
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Ken from “Street Fighter”
  • Sub Zero from “Mortal Kombat”
  • Pac Man
  • Super Mario

Get Your Game On!

Time to get designing your game character!  Check out some of Udemy.com’s courses on how to design and perfect your own game character with the help of professional game designers.  Remember to make the process fun and do not be afraid to experiment with different ideas, sketches, and personalities for your character.