Character Design/Rework Tips

For the curious commissioner. Things that you might like to consider.

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1. Do the Artist's aesthethics fit yours?

Designing is different from simply drawing.

If you like their art and characters then the answer is probably- yes. But it is also important to consider if you're asking, for example, an artist who usually draws clothy, fluid fantasy armour to design a preppy high school kid for you. If so, and if they don't often draw the genre or level of complexity you have in mind, then they MIGHT not be the right artist for you. Always look around their work and do your research! :> The last thing the artist wants is to end up with a design their clients do not like.

In summary, points you can keep in mind:

  • Is the Artist's design-style a good fit for the character you have in mind?

  • If you're very open to artistic freedom this shouldn't concern you too much.

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2. Character Visual Description > Backstory

Both are important, however-

This is mostly in regards to casual commissions, as usually commercial commissions(Studio work) do have to consider a very lengthy storyline with character ups and downs worked on by multiple scriptwriters so it does tend to be very lengthy and drawn out. This is also justified by having a commercial budget.

What I'll be talking about refers to your OCs, personas, fursonas and characters used for fun and self-expression. Focus a lot more on giving details about how you'd like the character to look, and then followed by a summarised backstory with personality for context.  It shouldn't be more than one or two short paragraphs. 

Example: [Let's use Aradael! :D] Red text: Notes

Commissioner:

Hi! I'm interested in creating a Gryphon OC. He's not going to be anthro but I'd like his face to be expressive, as he's able to talk and emote like humans. I'm not too sure about the colours, but I know I like cool tones like blues, turquoise and green. [You don't have to be sure of everything :) You can even give the artist colour palettes that you find online that you like!] I want a flame looking marking somewhere on his face, maybe his beak. Give him a mane/hair as I don't want that bald-bird look, please. (lol) I want him to have a hooked beak like an eagle, with talons in the front and paws in the back. I'd like him to have stripes and a tail that has a blue flame on it. Overall, he should look like a blue-fire gryphon. He's in his young adult years. (The early 20s) [Age/ Rough age is quite important.]

[Fake joke-backstory because I don't want to give spoilers to things]

He comes from a forest of green things. So he loves green. Green was a very important event in his life. It caused him to feel green. And green affected him in a way green only could. So now, his heart's green.

[Basically, the backstory should tell meaningful things that have had a cause-and-effect on his life. Not random facts like what his favourite food is (unless it's a huge part of his personality) etc.]

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3. Things to help your design request.

Let's get the process going!

So you need your character done, and you've been brainstorming their design by yourself for a while now. You've mentally discovered things you'd like on them. Maybe a certain style of clothing you found online really peaked your fancy? Great! Send that to the artist. Found a colour scheme you enjoy? Great! Send that one too. [Tip: https://www.colourlovers.com/palettes has nice colour palettes to browse. ^^] 

You don't have to do all these if you'd like something more artist-inspired, however- it can help if you're someone who's picky, or already has an idea in mind. 

BUT WAIT, please do not:

  • Send someone else's character(s) as the main reference. This usually depends on the context but please do not do that and then say things like, "I really like this character and want something like this/ a similar-looking character because I lOvE iT sO mUCh AaAaaaa." Most artists take pride in their designs and will not want to design something off someone's already designed character. [At least, that applies to me. ): ]

  • Be too vague. "I want a nekomimi OC. She's cute and likes wearing pink. About 16 years old." Usually, this is fine if you want the artist to really let loose and have a ton of artistic freedom. But please mention that that's okay so the artist is aware and they can go ahead with their own ideas.

Otherwise, do take note to mention the basic things like:

  • General hair colour [Dark/Light/Candy coloured etc.]

  • General clothing [Eg. Frills, Dresses, Tomboy-Cute etc.]

  • Any gimmicks [Pierching on left eyebrow/ Resting b*tch face etc.]

  • Eye colour(s)

 

Anything not mentioned will usually mean you're okay with the artist having free reign over that detail.

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4. Character Rework Tips

Refreshing.

Reviving an old design is always a fun and exciting process for both the commissioner and the artist. Always be sure to tell the artist the traits you'd like to keep and things you wish to do away with. If you're not sure, feel free to leave it to the artist to decide. If it's a whole species change, but you're keeping the general design, be sure to mention any specific areas where markings, tattoos or symbols have moved. [Eg. From the rump to the shoulder/ neck bandana changed into a headscarf etc.]

If the change you want is so drastic that the new design you want hard to relate to its old one, then you might want to just consider the "Character Design" option instead. ^^