Developing Character Concepts for Video Games

Developing Character Concepts for Video Games

Drawing your character concepts, like so many things involves a good eye, some talent, a pencil, and a piece of paper (or a marker and a wall if you prefer). Anyone can draw, even you! Whether or not you are any good at it is a whole different story. There are many types of drawing, different complexities of drawing, and different styles. But truly, to draw there are only a few basic principles that should be followed.

A Vision of Drawing Your Character Concepts

Before you can draw, you need to be able to visualize what you are drawing. Many artists will need to have the image in front of them, while more experienced artists can just imagine in their heads what they are going to draw. But no matter what, before you put a pencil to your paper, sit back and look or visualize what you are going to draw.

Study how your character moves, how your character is connected together, and the character’s body structure. Is your character frumpy and slow-moving? Does your character have four legs, two or maybe three? Is it fast? Does it slither?

While you are doing this, you can start to feel emotions for your character. Does the image of your character make you happy, sad, or angry? You can start to feel a bond with the image, which will help you to transfer your emotion to paper.

Simple Character Skeleton

character concept drawing skeleton

Once you have a vision of how your character moves and an idea of what pose you want to draw, you’ll want to start drawing your character skeleton. Don’t worry, you’re not going to need to draw an actual skeleton. The character skeleton is a simple stick figure that shows where the joints will meet and the pose you will be drawing.

This will help you to fill in the muscle shapes for the next step, but it also helps you to see what you are visualizing in your head. Is this the right pose for this character? Is this the size I want the character to be? Should I make this character smaller or bigger? Is the head proportional to the body?

Basic Muscle Shapes for Character Concepts

character drawing muscle shapes

No matter what it is that you are looking at to draw, it has a simple shape to it. Take a human head, for instance. Go and look in a mirror at yourself. Your head is basically an upside-down egg. How about an ornamental art frame? It’s just a rectangle with lots of details on the border. Begin thinking about the simple shapes that make up your character.

When you are drawing living things, it’s easiest to understand their skeletal structure, musculature, and then the skin. As people, we only see the skin, so when we are novice artists, that’s all we draw. Experienced artists build from a frame (the skeleton), add the mass (the muscles), and then paint the skin (your final product). Now, I’m not saying go and memorize all of the vertebrae in a spine or anything like that. What I mean is to understand how the skeleton allows the living thing to move, and draw lines of the skeleton to connect the joints.

Once you have built your skeleton, you can build the muscles. Take a look at your own arm. You have a smaller round-ish muscle at your shoulder, an oval muscle that goes down to just above the elbow, and then below your elbow, you have a forearm muscle that leads into your hand. Then think about your character. Is your character a bodybuilder or skinny and frail? Make the muscle mass as big as it needs to be while keeping it a simple shape.

Drawing Your Character’s Skin

character drawing put the skin on

Drawing in the skin basically just means to draw what’s on the outside. If the fur you are drawing has patterns, draw in the patterns. Does your character just have skin? Connect the muscles together as if you were wrapping saran wrap around them. Shade in the areas that would need to show depth and leave the areas white where you have bulging muscles.

Adding Character Concepts Details

character concept details

Next, you just need to add some details. You can add as many or as little as you want. It will depend on what you’re character is doing, and what the character needs in order to be doing what it is doing. This character, for instance, is a young boy jumping, having a good time. He is happy and excited, and likely just needs some clothes.

Ayden and Sandi from our new title, Enfield’s Apocalypse are our original character concepts that we developed.

Easy Peesy, Right?

These are the basic principles of drawing a character. Drawing can be as complicated or simple as you need it. This little dude that I drew took me about 10 minutes to draw. The more complicated a character gets, the longer that character concept will take to finish.

Drawing in details of an object, showing emotion, and movement are all a lot more complicated than what I have typed here, but this is a nice start to learning how to draw.

What Kind of Tips Do You Have?

This was just a simple tip to help you out with your character concepts. Do you have any tips you want to share with some other game artists? We’d love to see them in the comments below!

Check out the characters for our games!

2 thoughts on “Developing Character Concepts for Video Games

  1. This looks great! A wonderful start to design – I’d love to see a piece about using character body language to express more emotion in dialogue. Unless you’ve got good VA, body language is probably the most language a character can have!

    P.S
    Black titles on a gray background are difficult to read 🙁

    1. Awesome! Glad you like it! Yes, body language is how we truly speak to each other. Maybe I’ll write a post about that soon! PS.. Yes, I’ve been meaning to fix that in my CSS, and just never got to it.. fixing now!

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