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literature

How to Create a Character: Protagonist Edition.

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By Dissension-7   |   Watch
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Published: September 1, 2011
Have you ever caught yourself reading a book, manga or watching a TV show and wonder how the creator could come up with such a realistic character?  Well, whether it'd be an anthro, anime or real-life character, characters take time to think through.  In this tutorial, I will tell you just how to create that realistic and believable character!  You can also use this tutorial to think through the characters you've already created in order to re-vamp their appearance and personality!

There are 3 important aspects to a character, they are: personality, design and purpose.  Characters lacking one or more of those aspects may come off flat and boring.  Personality is how the character acts and interacts with other characters.  The personality is what gives your audience feelings for your character.  Design is another important aspect.  Their design is how the audience will remember your character.  Purpose is the final aspect of characterization.  Everyone has a purpose, big or small.  This is why you decided to create your character.  What are they going to offer to your story?

First step is personality.  Why personality first?  Why not design?  Good question.  Your character's design should reflect their personality.  If your character is happy, bright colors should suit them better.  If your character is sad and droopy, dark, neutral colors should suit their design better.  Now this is the point where you just sit down and brainstorm.  What comes to mind?  Do you want a character that's average, overly ambitious, serious, harshly sarcastic; whatever it is that you want, just jot these ideas down.  Each one of these characteristics adds to your characters personality, even if it's something along the lines of "they like ice cream".  Tiny details such as that can add more depth to your character whether you know it or not.  

Imagine to yourself simple scenarios such as this…  What would your character do if someone accidentally stepped on their foot?  Would they completely flip their lid and tell the other person off?  Would they giggle, shrug it off and go on their way?  What would your character order in a restaurant?  Would they order a big, fat, juicy steak? Would they order pasta and a salad?  What would your character do if someone gave them a book for Christmas?  Would they read it?  Would they toss it aside and ignore it?  Imagining scenarios such as this will help you think through your character's personality.  

Another aspect that can add to your character's personality is research.  Say you want your character to be Vegan, but you don't know anything about Veganism.  Start reading about Veganism, study it and become familiar with it.  The more realistically you make your character seem Vegan, the more solid their characterization will be.  

BEWARE.  Don't overdo your character's personality.  You want your character to be realistic and believable.  This is what will make your audience like them.  If you make them ridiculously powerful, invincible, overly arrogant; where's the real characterization?  You've over exaggerated everything and made your character suffer at your own hands and utterly destroyed all aspects of characterization.  

Second step is design.  Design is going to be your character's outer appearance that will make it visibly unique from everyone else.  This is the tricky part.  What do they look like?  What comes to mind?  Do you picture your character with long or short hair?  Do they have blue or brown eyes?  Are they tall or short?  All of this is up to you, but take into account your character's personality.  Look up color meaning charts.  You may find that colors such as red symbolize anger and hostility.  Is your character short tempered or angry?  Red may suit them, so incorporate red into their design.  Are they boisterous, happy and energetic?  Orange or yellow may suit them.  Is your character sad, droopy and seemingly depressed or afflicted?  Colors such as gray may suit them great.  

What does your character wear?  Do they come from somewhere that's hot or cold?  Are they an ex-war veteran who loves to wear camouflage?  Are they a fashonista who loves to wear top notch clothes?  If so, take deep thought into their clothes and accessories.  This is the part that will make them different from all the other characters.  

BEWARE.  Don't overdo your character's design.    If you add too many colors, accessories and any other unnecessary trinkets, your character will become an eye sore.  A little hint; if you as the creator can't remember every aspect of your character, down to the color of their shoe strings; you may have a problem.  Your character may be too dressed up.  Tone it down and remove some of their unnecessary accessories and try to keep it to a minimum of 3 or 4 colors to their color scheme.  

Third and last step; what is their purpose?  What do you intend your character to do?  Are they a popular singer in a band that will generate a movement from their listeners?  Is your character responsible for saving the world from a bad guy?  Or, is your character just meant to go to school, study and hope to get an A on the next exam?  Whatever their purpose, use their personality as the driving force to move them forward in their purpose.  If your character is sad and droopy, it may be hard from them to find the urge to study all night to get that A on their exam.  If they're a fashonista with a huge ego, they won't be studying; they're going to party all night!  Though, if they are a bookworm, getting an A on that exam is a cinch.  

Certain aspects of a character's personality may create problems for them.  Like the fashonista that loves to party; he or she may be confronted with failing the 12th grade!  Or, the bookworm that loves to study; they may get picked on by other kids.  How do these characters's overcome this?  How will your fashonista pass the 12th grade?  Will he bully a smart kid into doing his homework for him?  Will the bookworm concoct a trap that will make the bullies somehow slip in the cafeteria to completely embarrass them?  Use your character's personality as a driving factor in their purpose.  Also, use their weaknesses as things to drive the plot.  

So, did you do it?  Did you create that well-rounded character that you envied in the story you were reading?  Did you fill in the gaps to the character you already had to make them even better?  I sure hope you did!  Creating characters can be very fun, but it can also be very hard.  So, use this tutorial as a little helper.  
I hope someone finds this useful. :heart:
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© 2011 - 2019 Dissension-7
Just thought I'd whip this together.
Simple written tutorial on how to create a character.

If you have any questions just ask. :heart:
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Comments (22)
KingArx's avatar
KingArx|Student Artist
Can someone tell me where i can draw something in this site? i can't find it
plz help
Reply  ·  
Paraflux006's avatar
Do the same principles found on this tutorial also apply to Role-playing characters, too? I want to improve on writing better characters and scene descriptions. These advices are quite helpful though.
Reply  ·  
Dissension-7's avatar
Dissension-7|Student General Artist
Of course. :) These can be applied to creating characters of any kind or any purpose! :la:
Reply  ·  
DaemonKitty1316's avatar
DaemonKitty1316|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
...hmm....this totally will help me create some new characters! Thank you a lot!
Reply  ·  
Dissension-7's avatar
Dissension-7|Student General Artist
You're very very welcome! I'm glad to help. :hug:
Reply  ·  
DaemonKitty1316's avatar
DaemonKitty1316|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yes. Thank you! I've already come up with 5 new characters!
Reply  ·  
Dissension-7's avatar
Dissension-7|Student General Artist
:dance: Good job!
Reply  ·  
inknalcohol's avatar
:wave:

You've been featured in #Beta-Readers' very first Resource Feature.

Thank you for the wonderful resource!
Reply  ·  
Dissension-7's avatar
Dissension-7|Student General Artist
Thank you so much for featuring me! :heart:
Reply  ·  
inknalcohol's avatar
My pleasure.
Reply  ·  
Darkmaster58's avatar
Darkmaster58|Hobbyist Writer
this was very helpful but i see you focused more on Person verses person type of thing
Reply  ·  
GothKoala439's avatar
GothKoala439|Hobbyist Writer
This is extremely helpful, thanks!!
Reply  ·  
Dissension-7's avatar
Dissension-7|Student General Artist
You're very welcome!
Reply  ·  
lohkk's avatar
Very nice :3 Though I don't totally agree with the color scheme thing... I wear black from head to toe and if you were to color me with something related to my personality, I'd probably be bright and happy xD Some characters might also be "sad and droopy" but wear bright colors because they think black is ugly D:
Reply  ·  
Dissension-7's avatar
Dissension-7|Student General Artist
Of course. :) I just wrote the color scheme to give people a basis, but they can surely go outside the box. Besides, the fact they may not like bright colors can be part of their characterization. ;D
Reply  ·  
SurrealMisanthrope's avatar
SurrealMisanthrope|Hobbyist Digital Artist
awesome...
now... how about antagonists?
Reply  ·  
Dissension-7's avatar
Dissension-7|Student General Artist
That sounds like another good one!
I'll be sure to do that.

How to make an evil antagonist.
Or something.
Reply  ·  
SurrealMisanthrope's avatar
SurrealMisanthrope|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Sounds good...
(starts thinking of an antagonist)
Reply  ·  
the-searching-one's avatar
the-searching-one|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very helpful :heart: Well done!
Reply  ·  
Dissension-7's avatar
Dissension-7|Student General Artist
Thanks!
I'm glad to help! :heart:
Reply  ·  
the-searching-one's avatar
the-searching-one|Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'll feature this when I write the next "helpful stuff"-post in my tumblr-blog :love:
Reply  ·  
Dissension-7's avatar
Dissension-7|Student General Artist
:D
Thank you so much! :heart: :heart:
Reply  ·  
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