Exercise: Character development


“Collect as many examples as possible of different characters – newspapers and magazines are a particular good source. Catalogue these characters as types – babies, children, sportsmen, old women – create your own category headings.”

Below are my researched images for three different categories of characters.

Monsters (film)

I have always appreciated the creativity in monster design. The process from concept to creation is something to admire, and the artistic input for character development is substantial.

I found the early concept art for Aliens which shows the progression from the initial sketch to clips from the finished film. This shows how basic the first idea can be, then render after render it develops into the final character design.

Children (video games)

There has been a surge in video games depicting children as lead characters. The idea of these characters overcoming high odds is very compelling in today’s industry.

Below is the character art development of the lead character from “The Lat Of Us”

Ellie from The Last of Us

Female Heroes (Film)

Female characters have developed a lot in the last century. Along with strong personalities comes instantly recognisable costume design.


“Decide upon a character you would like to create. This might be one from a book or story, or based on an archetype such as a businessman or vicar’s wife. Begin to brainstorm around your character – perhaps there are characters from the media or your own life you would like to focus on.”

For this exercise, I decided to create a character from scratch. I came up with an idea from a sketch for a hybrid type character. I liked the idea of my initial design and decided to progress the image and build on some details.

Once I was happy with my character progression, I used Adobe Illustrator to finalise the design and details. I created a character board for my final design and detailed specific parts of my character to create a personality. I also decided to give him a name which helped shape his expressions later.

After I was happy with my design, I created another character board of different facial expressions. I tried to think of as many emotions as possible that the character might convey.

Next, I tried to combine some emotions with body language. This was an enjoyable process as I was able to play around with certain aspects of the character’s anatomy and expand on the spacesuit, incorporating into an emotion.

Then try another, different character. Make sure you come up with someone completely different, not just the same person in different clothes.”

For the next part of the brief, I created a completely different subject and designed a creature like character. Like the previous design, I created a name for personality and detailed some of the anatomies.

I then created a second facial mood board to feel out the character’s personality and reactions.

This was a great exercise. I was a little uncomfortable to begin with as along with hands, I believe that facial expressions are one of the hardest artistic skills to get correct.

I was fascinated to see how the slightest adjustment can create a whole other meaning and emotion. The angle of an eyebrow or the shape of the mouth can convey an entirely different mood or expression. It was also interesting to play around with body language and body shapes. In my character “Hubble” it felt quite natural to have his space suit adjust and change with his expression.

If I was to repeat this exercise, I would expand even further on the first character and show him outside of his suit. I would have also visited some different options in my sketches, this being the first idea that I built upon.