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Cartoons, role-play games, animation, and more.
In any group project, you make sure everyone is working together toward one goal, toward one final product. Similarly, working on the production team for an animated film, show, video game, or comic requires all members to be on the same page—figuratively and literally. That’s where a character design sheet comes in!
A character design sheet—also known as a character model sheet, character board, or character study—is used in visual arts to showcase and standardize character illustrations. In its simplest form, a character design sheet provides an overview of a character, including multiple poses and facial expressions and details on how that character behaves and acts.
While character sheets might vary from artist to artist or even production to production, they tend to include the same general content. This makes it easy for producers, directors, and investors to know what to expect from a character design and proposal.
What to Include
Full Body Shot
First, every character sheet includes an image of the character in a natural, relaxed stance, which provides a reference point for the character’s overall look and proportions. This image is typically done in full color.
For an illustration to become animated, it needs to be drawn in multiple poses and positions. So, a character design sheet will feature the character in a few different poses, often ones that capture their personalities or body language and enhance their characterization.
Do the character’s eyes get small or slanted when they’re angry? When they smell something stinky, does their nose wrinkle or flatten in disgust? Artists always provide a few different illustrations to showcase a variety of emotional expressions on the character’s face. These are usually done in headshot-style in either color or black and white.
Lastly, character model sheets include a written description of the character, including their personality and the role they will play in the story. Where are they from? What’s their natural disposition? Are they adventurous or timid? Artists use a character sheet to really flesh out their own creation, diving deep into their character’s nuances and expressions.
Character design sheets work for two main purposes: for artists to pitch a character and to maintain continuity in a work.
These sheets are excellent sales pitches. When an illustrator provides a quick, visual rundown of a character for a specific project, it helps a director or investor truly understand the character and their purpose in the story.
Character sheets also provide a design manual if multiple artists are working on an animated production. They control and regulate any variations in the illustrated characters’ look and movements, ensuring character standardization no matter who works on a scene or illustration.
Want to Design Your Own?
Character design sheets are both formulaic and expressive! They allow an artist to showcase their creativity while still following an industry-designated set of information.
Take a class and get started on your sheet today!
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