So you want a Job In the gaming Industry. This is my gulled to how to get one as a character designer, and an overview of the Job as a whole. I will explain what this highly sought after Job has to offer, from pay and amount of work available, to the work involved and where the job falls in the industry ladder (and if there is a possibility for advancement). There Is a broad spectrum of work involved In character design, and a few different ways to break into the industry.
A look at this job will give a nice overview of what the playing field looks like, and a good detailed kook at what it’s like to be a character designer and what it takes to get there. First, let’s take a look at what character design is all about from a bird’s eye view. Designing a character Is a very Involved process, even though many characters you see in video games appear pretty simple. Designing a character entails everything from what your character looks like, their archetype, personality, history, and much more. One main aspect of being a character designer is artistry.
A natural talent for art Is a big plus when it comes to designing characters. Most people In this field Penn a lot of time in drafting and animation classes when they are in school preparing for their Job, because the visual aspect Is a key part of what will be required of you. The more advanced the degree you get, the more likely you are to be a top designer. There Is a range of education available, from single classes that take only weeks to complete, to two or four year video game animation institutions. The second main aspect of character design Is writing.
Storyline and conversations are the best way to get deep into a character and find out what they are all about. You kind of have to throw the saying “a picture’s worth a thousand words” out the window here. It would be best to have a strong background In writing here, and maybe minor in English. Moving on, usually at most video game companies, there is someone at the top as lead character designer, who oversees all the other character designers and keeps the project on track. There are positions with small part time workloads, and large full time work loads out there.
What kind of work you get depends on your experience and how useful you’ve proven to be to the company. It’s a field that you can climb the ladder In. You can make around $55,000 a year as a character designer. The Job falls around the middle of the game design hierarchy by pay and the total amount of work compared to other Jobs. Why don’t we find out what the creative process of character design is all about? The best way to start out is to study existing characters, break them down, and figure out what people like about them, and what characteristics work and which ones don’t.
There is a huge abundance of characters out there, so it’s best to pick ones hat FLT In the same world as the game, and also ones that have been the most successful. This will give you an optimum stock of different art styles, personalities, and archetypes to work with. Once you have a good amount of material to work with, narrow down what types of characteristics, styles and archetypes you want to use and start designing and planning rough models of what you want your characters to be like.
The more sketches and ideas you have, the better, because that will build your characters in great detail, visually and In personality. The depth. Range. And For example, if you’re making a fighter for the SSP, you don’t need a whole lot deep back-story or detail, because of the nature of these types of games, and the small screen. What you will need is lots of different personalities and storyline, since fighting games usually host a LOT of different characters. From one extreme to another, role playing games for next gene consoles will require lots of detailed art, and a huge amount of story and personality.
You won’t need tons of characters though, since most role playing games have a Max of around 10 playable characters, and cost non-playable characters don’t need to be seen under a microscope unless they are crucial to the story, like a mentor, or antagonist. Another thing that determines what your characters will be like is the audience that your game is aimed at. If you’re making a children’s game, it’s good to involve bright colors and shapes, and entertaining/funny characters with good moral values.
On the other end of the spectrum, mature rated games can have more edgy themes and characters because it’s a totally different audience. If you are working for a client, they usually have impassioned characters, which tend to be less creative and more restrictive. In this situation, characters might be easier to create, but you won’t have a whole lot of room to move around creatively. One thing that will guarantee your characters to be popular and noticed is their visual impact. You want to distinguish your characters as much as possible from all the other similar ones out there.
This can be done by using color schemes that really stand out from the crowd and unique clothing and/or physical features. Clothing can also convey character traits. Example: ragged, dirty loathes to show that your character is poor, or fresh, stylish clothes for a character with more swagger or money. Another part of visual impact is line qualities and styles. Lines aren’t usually something that make a character stand out, but more off way to express their personality visually. Thick and soft round lines make for an approachable or cute character, and sharp and scratchy lines give the appearance of a darker, erratic character.
When designing physical attributes, you need to make sure that your character looks right from all angles in three dimensions. It’s good to ark out all your measurements and get it right. Let’s move on from the basics and the artistic parts of the Job and into what is usually the most important part of character design… Storyline, history and dialogue for cut scenes and conversations. The reason this is so important is because story and character development tell a lot more than Just physical appearance. You can’t show someone’s background or hopes and dreams with only good animation, you have to also be a good writer.
It’s best to set the player up with a little back story and personality at the beginning of the game, and then ring out more and more as the game goes on. A good example I can think of is Star Ocean 2. When you’re first introduced to the 2 main characters, you don’t know much about them. You know the male character’s name is Claude, that he was part of the Earth Federation exploring a new found planet, and that he was accidental telephoned to another world, and is looking for answers. You also know that he’s a good guy because he rescues the other main character, Rena from a monster in the woods.
As the game goes on you learn more about him with each passing conversation, cut cane, and you can even choose different paths in the story throughout the game. Steady stream of information. Another important thing is to put your characters emotions into play as much as possible. It’s good to have an action/reaction type of thing going on. What I mean is to have your characters react according to their personalities to every given situation. The difference in how characters react and how they feel about certain subjects and situations will set them apart from each other and build personality.
Showing emotions can also connect the player with retain characters because of shared stances and feelings. If the player is saddened by the death of a character, you’re doing your Job right. You want your audience to be moved by the story of your character and to identify with them as much as possible. Personal history is also a good thing to bring up in conversations and cut scenes, because they can show the player why a certain character is the way he/she is. You don’t want to overwhelm the player with history though, it’s best to keep them in the present most of the time and give them glimpses of the past here and there wrought the game.
One thing I mentioned earlier was hopes and dreams. It’s good to show what a character wants to achieve in life, and present obstacles to them. Ups and downs are a big part of life and can show that even heroes are human and imperfect. When building story it is important to note that you need to stay within the boundaries of the story board. It can be constricting, but the story board can give you ideas and guidelines to build your characters around. You can work with the writers of the story to unify your characters with the main plot, and it’s also good to bounce ideas off of one another.
I think that pretty well covers this curial part of the character design world. Now, once you’ve covered all the bases and put hours and hours into your characters, you should show them to people you know and get an idea of how people identify with them and what they think. This can help you fine tune your characters into exactly what you want them to be. Encourage constructive criticism and break down your characters like you did at the beginning. Make sure that you have all the basics, nothing missing, and well rounded, unique and interesting characters.