Character Design

As you may have noticed, characters are my thing. Despite any other problems I may have with drawing (perspective, buildings, foreshortening, etc…), I’ve never really had a problem coming up with a character. Often, I have an idea for a story but don’t totally flesh out the character until I draw him/her. I then furiously scribble notes on the side.


In the interest of full disclosure, that’s not the original character sheet for Taya. Initially, she was lacking the armor. Also, the real character sheet(s) about her (and the others) all have massive spoilers. But that is a good (but brief) example of what I mean.

I draw a quick character sketch in the pose/with the expression that best encapsulates what I’m trying to accomplish, and then describe the person I see in front of me. Sometimes I come back to it after I’ve done other characters’ sheets, or sometimes, I already know a dynamic I want to accomplish (Taya’s somber disposition verses Arinnel’s largely carefree one, for example). I even do this with characters I intend only to write and never to draw.

One thing I’ve done in The Lotus War, though, that I’ve never really done before: drawn for boys.


Yes… those tatas are intentional. Actually, I spent a lot of time on my ladies’ bosoms, trying to get them juuuuuust right. I don’t want them looking too perky/fake/push-up bra-like. I don’t want them completely unrealistically huge. But I want them to have some appeal. There! I said it! As a self-respecting woman, is that cheap? Honestly, from a “business” angle, I think not.

Here’s the thing: I’m not trying to supplant good characters or good story or interesting platform with good boobs. But if boobs will draw a person into our story world before he knows whether it’s good or not, I’ll draw them, dang it, and I’ll draw them well!

Plus, with so many of the RPG Maker community’s boobs (obviously) drawn by men (some with little idea of how actual boobs function), I’m pretty proud, again as a woman with some idea of how actual ones look, to try and represent!

Notice, also, Ren:



Again, none of this girly-boy business that finds its way into so many manga and anime and, yes, even video games. He’s no stick.

I always remember something that I heard that Akira Toriyama said. He said that he didn’t really think about drawing for a long time. He just obsessively drew the things that he wanted – and eventually, that made him good at drawing. I find it funny that one of his fortes was drawing muscley men (I guess he really wanted some biceps, huh?).

It’s also funny because drawing nice tats or strong arms won’t give me those things… but maybe it can help make my characters a little easier to like/look at. Or maybe the way Taya’s eyebrows keep her from completely smiling will give her a bit of a more soulful feel that people may want to relate to. Maybe Ren’s self-assured, content look will contrast against the lowly self-esteemed protagonists of other characters, and maybe encourage people that it’s okay to have some self-confidence. Maybe Arinnel’s bubbly smile will demonstrate how clearly she loves living in the moment. I don’t know that it will take with my audience, but I can hope.

In the very least, having those little details in their faces helps me remember who they are, and hopefully that helps me (and Justin) keep them consistent.

What about you? What kind of thoughts go into your character creation process? Do you draw characters with your target audience in mind, or do you feel that’s a compromise of your character’s… uhmm… character?


2 thoughts on “Character Design

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