Photo by Štefan Štefančík / Unsplash

Coming up with the personality of a character can be a deceivingly tricky task. Being aware of some preceding steps like capturing a gesture to incorporating basic shapes are significant components of creating a strong figure. Utilizing simple exercises into your character development process using various resources can help you create powerful characters.

  • Start off with quick gestures to capture the initial line of action of your character.

  • Marking the line of action can make your figures come to life in dynamic ways and can simply defined as a curved line that grasps the movement of a pose.

  • Using curved lines versus straight, parallel lines makes the figures feel less rigid and tense.

  • Weak characters often sink towards the ground, curling in on themselves (inward line of action) while strong characters stretch out their shoulders, chest out with their chin in the air (outward, exposed line of action.)

  • The two opposing directions within a line of action carries what the action and attitude of a character would be.


  • Think of some descriptions or adjectives to support the personality of your character. Some examples of of used adjectives would be: his shimmering eyes, a menacing smile.

  • Even thinking of a theatrical actor to cast as the character you’re designing can be useful. Take note of how actors use their bodies to convey specific traits or in expressing emotions.

  • Another route could be observing physical comedy. The way physical comedians over-exaggerate their movements shows how their bodies can communicate humor without the use of verbal cues.

  • Think of your character’s position in their world and their motivations for navigating it. What kind of role would your character have in a story? Would they be an everyday person that wakes up with superpowers and ends up saving the world? Or would they be the adventurous, free spirit that goes against any kind of authority?

Add features like exaggerated facial expressions and disproportionate shapes to include as part of your character. Photo by Andrew Seaman / Unsplash

  • Coming up with creative stories can guide you to know what kind of character you want to design. Those narratives can inform what the character’s backstory and influence the visual details of your character.

  • Incorporating basic shapes can also form the essence of your character. Round, smooth shapes would equate to friendly dispositions, while angular, sharp shapes would read as a more threatening, dangerous character.

  • If you’re designing inanimate or animate objects from real life, collect some reference photos and draw your object from various angles and perspectives.

  • Speaking of pulling inspiration from real life, this is where anatomy can be especially important, since anatomy breaks down the underlying form of what you’re designing. Delving into some anatomical terms really helps to understand why something moves the way it does.

  • There are even online resources that provide reference photos for drawing practice. Sites like Line of Action or Quickposes have customizable reference options that focus on the various technical skills you want to work on.

You can utilize any number of exercises and resources to expand how you design your characters, along with why your characters are designed the way they are.

If you’re interested in learning more in-depth tutorials on character design, check out our Visual Development: Envisioning A Narrative for Film and Video Games course from Ringling College of Art + Design.

Visual Development: Envisioning A Narrative for Film and Video Games

Ringling College of Art and Design