Hey again, everyone!
I think most of you know by now that I absolutely love creating characters, and most importantly, I love the characters that I make!
I figure it would be cool to make a list of what I think makes a compelling character!
Not only that, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on what you think of my characters, and also how character YOUR creation process goes as well!
Below, I speak from MY OWN POINT OF VIEW, of course. Feel free to disagree, but be warned, if you try to start a debate with me, it most likely will go on for a very, very long time.
And you probably will not win! HA!
WHAT I LIKE TO DO - A MEIBATSU CHARACTER CREATION HOW TO:
1. Think of what character I want to make (OC, fandom OC, etc.)
2. Think of the kind of personality I want them to have
3. Think of what skills I want them to have and how they fit in the universe
4. Think of the advantages of drawbacks of the skill
5. Think of how the personality and the skill mix to make the character unique
6. Design the character with the personality and skills in mind
7. Make the character look unique in some way (clothing, accessory, physical feature, body language, etc.)
8. Doodle the character in various poses, expressions, gestures
9. Make a short comic with the character speaking or doing their thing
10. Have the character interact with another character, play off their dynamics
11. Think of what I want for the character in the future
12. Tweak, adjust, and deepen the character's backstory so it better reflects the direction of the character's present and future
13. Build up relationships between the character and other characters
14. Develop side and background characters to serve the character's backstory
15. Think about how the character develops in the future, their upgrades, their downgrades
16. Make more comics illustrating their backstory, their present, and their future developments
17. Keep using them and developing them! Or else I will abandon them or try to delete them!
18. Redevelop a character as necessary because ideas that seemed good at the time could actually suck later
19. If there is an old abandoned character that can be reused to fill the role of a new character being made, then pick them up, dust them off, and give them life again!
Here is a walkthrough I did in the past when I made Asfir. It doesn't exactly follow the above steps in linear fashion since I kind of think of everything all at once:
MORE TIPS AND THOUGHTS ON CHARACTER CREATION -- ESPECIALLY MAIN CHARACTERS
Make a character that you would actually enjoy reading about or seeing in action
Lots of people like making characters as a way to express themselves, and to experiment with interacting with the world without actually having to do it themselves. Some people think of this as "wish fulfillment" or "self-insertion", but that's not always true. Sometimes I make characters just as an exercise in philosophy (e.g. How would such a person deal with the world? What if...? Could I understand a character that...?). Anyway, the important point is that it should be a character that interests YOU in some way. You should want to see them develop and grow in some way. You should be fascinated with their struggles and successes. You should want to understand why they are acting the way they are, or feeling the way they feel (and even if you don't know, you WANT to know). You should ENJOY them! Have fun with them!
Now, lots of people may rag on about how THEY don't enjoy your character, but rule number one is that YOU enjoy your character because that character is YOURS.
DO NOT LET OTHERS TAKE OVER AND DEVELOP YOUR CHARACTERS FOR YOU IN SPITE OF WHAT YOU REALLY WANT.
I think people that do that are condescending, offensive, and frankly: not worth my time.
Don't make the character so overpowered that all their conflicts are predictable and boring
You want your character to be cool and awesome in SOME way. That's what makes them interesting to you. However, boredom will quickly settle in if they are SO COOL and SO POWERFUL and SO SUCCESSFUL that it becomes predictable. Then you will wonder, with all their coolness and good things going on, why you think they suddenly suck. And you will build contempt. And you will want them deleted. And that is sad. So, do not try to stack up your character with every cool skill you can think of. Don't try to make them 100% successful or super top class in everything. You won't have many other characters (your OWN characters even) that will want to bother even dealing with them. And in the end, a character that is alone with no characters "in their league" wanting to interact with them is practically an abandoned or deleted character anyway.
Don't make the character so weak and pathetic that you wish they would just die off already
On the other end of the spectrum, don't get so scared of making an overpowered character that you make a useless one. The same thing happens. They are a failure, and their failure is predictable. And you will get bored. And you will build contempt. And you will want them deleted too. Why were they made if only to be deleted? It's good to try to make a sympathetic character with flaws and weaknesses, but not so much that they become a pile of boring, whining, and pining uselessness. You will start wanting to kill them off in some way in order to "redeem" their uselessness, but in the end, you would hardly care about their death, even if you tried to make your other characters care.
Make your character look unique so they stand out as your character
Your character needs to look unique in some way. They should not look like every other character. Even if they are a "plain" character, something about them should make them stand out AS a character. That's what character design is half about when it comes to art. There needs to be some sort of thought put into the actual DESIGN. Is the silhouette unique? Are they recognizable in a sea of millions of other characters? Are they fun for YOU to draw? Can you draw a very quick doodle of them and they would still be recognizable to you? This is where the unique bits come in. Maybe it's just a stick doodle, but you can add in an accessory or hair style, and BAM, it's your character! Makes for easy and fast comics, which makes it easy to develop your character! Also important is that you start to be more consistent in how you draw your character so they look like the same person in different pictures, and the same in a comic across different panels. They should also look unique from all your other own characters. You don't want to be confused about which character is who, and certainly your audience doesn't want to be confused about that either!
It is also very true that a lot of compelling character design requires a certain level of artistic ability. That is.. enough ability to get your idea across. If you don't even really know what's going on with your character visually, chances are no one else will either, and other people who are not even invested in your character will have less patience to try and figure it out. Creators have come from all skill levels and art styles, and characters have come from all those different levels. Just keep working at your craft and you will get more consistent and clear in communicating your ideas. If you can't get your idea across visually, and must instead list it in extravagant words that even very good artists will have a hard time rendering, it will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes, because no one will be convinced.
Don't over-design a character too much
Yah yah, there are a lot of great artists out there that can pull this off. If you're one of them, then that's good. But on the whole, characters with too many knick-knacks on them look like they are trying too hard to "be cool". And unless you intend your character to be an eternal "try hard", it's best to not overburden their design with stitch lines, zippers, bells, bows, hearts, lace, armour, gadgets, chains, knives, belts, ropes, etc. You gotta remember that if you intend to actually ever use that character again, you're going to have to DRAW THEM OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. And make sure you do it CONSISTENTLY. Now imagine trying to do that when your character is over-designed. You will wonder if they are so cool looking, then why don't you ever want to draw them in any meaningful way. It's because they became too complicated with "cool".
It is also my deep belief that well-made character designs are the types that make others want to draw fanart of them. If it's pure frustration for fanartists to figure out and draw, then the design sucks.
As for other over-designed elements of characters: don't try to throw every unique trait and combination you can think of onto them either. It just becomes a terrible list of things to "remember" because none of it will be especially meaningful in the end. Not every detail needs to be designed ahead of time. Little details can get developed as you use your character. Just like you would get bored and annoyed of a stranger you don't really know spouting off irrelevant information about themselves, people would get bored by a character that is nothing but a long list of "stuff". Boring = instantly ignored. Ignored = character abandonment/deletion.
Make sure the character is compelling and believable
Compelling (interesting and convincing) and believable means that the character fits in the universe that you are putting them in. It could be your own made up world/story or it could be a fandom. What matters is that they interact with that world in a way that it doesn't break that world's canon laws. Otherwise, eyes will glaze over and your character may as well not exist because people will ignore them. And eventually, you will ignore your character too because you will have a hard time developing a character who doesn't interact with the universe in a compelling way. Does the character's motivations make sense in that world? Does that background story make sense in that universe? Do they obey most of that universe's rules and are not popping in and out of every location and being a part of every event, etc?
Make a character that other characters and the audience would actually want to interact with
It is my belief that a true test of compelling character design is that other characters and the audience (which includes yourself, and your viewers, who could soon be your fans!) will want to interact with the character! They will want to get to know your character. Your character would be considered fun or endearing, and makes a lasting impression on others. Other characters and audience members will want to ask questions, become friends, become rivals, become enemies, or even love interests. Some people will want to make fanart! Some people will want to role-play with your character!
If no one wants to interact with your character much, it's probably because they don't find them very compelling or interesting, or they find the character obnoxious and want to ignore their existence. Both are bad. You can help solve some of this by developing them more through comics so that people can see the character interacting with other characters. This helps people get an idea of your character more and see if they want to interact too. If your character is not compelling or entertaining, then chances are you will have a ridiculously hard time figuring out how other characters should interact with yours. Especially if your character is being inserted into a fandom, you will have a hard time making canon characters stay in character while trying to interact with a non-compelling character.
Don't get caught up in over-thinking your character's design if it prevents you from actually ever using them
Don't get so caught up in creating the "perfect character that is not too perfect" that you forget to actually do anything meaningful with your character! You're thinking too much! Why'd you even make them if you're not going to use them for anything??? Don't waste all your time planning out their whole story and every nuance so that by the time you're actually done, you don't feel like you want to do it anymore. Part of the fun and point of designing a character is seeing the character go on a journey and grow as you use them. This means stories, pictures, comics! You don't have to know every twist and turn ahead of time! You are your audience too! You want some of your character to be a mystery even to you, so you can be just as enthralled in their adventure as you'd like for others to be. So if you're stuck on "design", then JUST DRAW SOMETHING.
On Mary-Sues, Gary-Stus, and other character creation shennanigans
There are lots of definitions on what makes a "Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu", but most people do not like them, and there's a lot of subjectivity involved.
Here's my list of quick and dirty rules for whether a character is one of those bad "Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu" characters:
+ is the character entertaining to you and others?
+ is the character liked by yourself and others?
+ do people want to root for the character?
+ do other characters, other people's characters, and the audience members want to interact with the character?
=> [what it all boils down to: IS YOUR CHARACTER COMPELLING (interesting + convincing)?]
IF YES TO ALL THE ABOVE, THEN CONGRATS. YOUR CHARACTER IS NOT A TERRIBLE MARY-SUE.
According to me, "Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu"ness most strictly refers to main characters that no one really likes or wants to interact with. They may hog the spot-light with all their design (intense, intricate, poor, bad, over-design, etc.), but few want to watch because they aren't entertaining. They feel boring and most people's brains turn off when encountering them.
Of course, some people just like throwing the term around for almost any character they don't like.
Or some people just like labelling everything that's not designed to their tastes as a "Mary-Sue".
Unsurprisingly, my characters have also been called Mary-Sues... and poorly developed to boot!
Of course I was like "WOT? HOW DARE? YOUR ARGUMENTS ARE NOT CONVINCING! AWAY WITH THEE!"
And then I was like "WHATEVER DUDEZ, MY CHARACTERS BE AWESOME FO SHIZZLE! YOU THINK YOU ALL THAT, BUT YOU JUST WHACK!"
And later I was like "WELP, TIME TO MAKE ABOUT 8 MORE CHARACTERS TO ROUND OUT MY CAST!"
^ This is actually related to Solar Cat and the rest of my cast being labelled as a "Mary-Sue"ish. xD
SO YOU TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!
So really, who knows how many of my own rules and tips I have broken in trying to create my own characters! I only have hundreds of them. There are bound to be a crazy amount of poorly designed main characters running around that should be fixed. However, here are a recent batch of characters! A lot of them were old and underused characters that I decided to dust off and further develop.
Feel free to tell me what you think about them! Have I broken all my own design rules? Are they truly "Mary-Sues" or "poorly developed"? Do I really not know what I am doing but churning out designs like a madman? XD
I have enabled CRITIQUES on the character profiles so you can critique them for originality or whatever the heck else the critique option gives~~~ I don't think I've ever bothered with that feature before. A waste of a premium subscription ability no longer!
Be as critical as you would like! I would like your honest opinion, since I have been wondering what people do think. My cast is pretty varied and ranges from joke characters to seriously messed up ones. However, as forewarned in Solar Cat's profile, though I may hear you out, I may not follow your "sagely advice" should you wish to give it! I am otherwise pretty reasonable though, and enjoy a good debate!~
A self-insert. Hey look, it's me! Except with powers! And "cool" gear!
Originally designed as videogame main character. Adapted for the SGPA.
BLACK SEIREN / SEIREN
Very new character designed for the heck of it. Adapted for the SGPA.
SILVER ZODIAC / ALTAIRE
FORMERLY ABANDONED character that was almost deleted. Re-developed. Adapted for the SGPA.
MISS CANDY / CHERRY
Very underused character. Adapted for the SGPA.
MISS KAYNE / KAYNE
Very underused character. Adapted for the SGPA.
SPACE GIRL / FAFNR
Just a character I really like. Adapted for the SGPA.
CROW / FENIX
Very underused character. Adapted for the SGPA.
Joke character. Adapted for the SGPA.
HORIZON / KATEDRA
A character made by my other OC. Adapted for the SGPA.
ZENITH / FLORENCIA
A character made by my other OC. Adapted for the SGPA.
Fairly new and underdeveloped character. Adapted for the SGPA.
An obviously overpowered character that could not be adapted into the SGPA.
Used as an example of overpowered. He's still a favourite of mine though!
COMICS FEATURING SOME OF THE CHARACTERS ABOVE!
AND THANKS FOR ALL THE COMMENTS AND OPINIONS AND GENERALLY AWESOME CONVERSATION THROUGHOUT ALL THIS TIME, FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND WATCHERS ALIKE!
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