Not sure if this is the best place to talk about this since i dont really have much notoriety here, but a lot of people on DA found this helpful, so I’ll copypaste it here too! I got rid of the part where I used my characters as examples though because the images werent showing up here |D
(Disclaimer: Most of this stuff are things I’ve experienced and observed over the years and I’m just sharing my thoughts and opinions. I’m in no way a professional at character/story creation)
Also keep in mind that this is mostly advice for visual artists and not really writers. I’m not a writer so these things I’m gonna say may not apply :’D
Whenever I tell people that my original stuff is what gets the most feedback on here they always seems shocked because well, lets face it, original ideas dont get as much love on the internet than say fanart or whatever’s trending on the web. |D Because of this a lot of people often give up on thier own ideas and kinda just stick with what works for them or what gets them most feedback. But those people who I can see are passionate about their stories and characters and dont give up on them are the ones that I see having successful comics and even careers producing their own work! even though the road to notoriety is a hard one, especially if you’re working on your own thing.
Now my original stuff isnt THAT popular, but it definitely gets a significant amount of more commenters and interest than my other things, even if those things are much better drawn. It doesnt get as many favorites of course, but I think its because most people favorite for visual appeal. Plus, people seem to like my characters enough to draw giftart, request rping (even though 95% of the rp requests i get nowadays are ppl tryin to get into Sky’s pants |D) and make plz accounts from their facial expressions, so I think that counts for something! I personally dont think my characters and comics are very good, but people are enjoying them, so thats good enough for me!
Now it didnt used to be this way! Before NO ONE gave a shit about my characters or whatever it was that i was creating. |D Maybe I’d get a comment or two if I was lucky. But i didnt give up on them because well I couldnt! I’ve had these characters since childhood and I’ve grown up with them, so in many ways they’re like my children. Before DA I drew HUNDREDS of pages of comics, but I didnt care if no one read them because Ienjoyed them (and maybe a few others irl close to me). Its only when I started posting comics here (and therefore I could communicate my character’s personality and actions better than just a standalone drawing or written description) that I noticed a sudden influx of interest in my characters. While I’m flattered by the attention and it keeps me motivated to keep posting comics here, what really drives me is the love I have for these characters. I guess what I’m getting at here is don’t make characters for people’s approval, make them because you love making stories.
I’m mainly gonna touch on how to make your characters more interesting to newcomers and not so much on character design itself. Thats for another journal lol
Make your characters DO things: Im just gonna lay it down here right now: people wont care about your OCs UNLESS you make them DO things. (‘Do’ is a word I’m gonna use a lot here) People cant get excited about your character if all you have is a standalone drawing of them. If you do get a lot of feedback on the first pass its probably because 1) you drew them irresistibly attractive or 2) you already have a lot of followers and they’ll praise anything you’ll do. But if you dont have that skill or luck, you need to GET people excited about them. Put them in a comic! Make them solve a problem! Draw cinematic scenes with them in it! Drawing them in a blank space with no expression (or boring expressions) with no context (no matter how many times you draw them) isnt gonna get people excited about your character.
Even though I’m a character creator myself, its actually very hard for me to get invested in people’s characters. (at least online) The only times I can find myself getting interested in peoples characters is if:
1) the character is in a comic, animation, film, illustration, some visual medium and I can see their actions and judge their character. SOMETIMES I can get into characters from books and writing, but im not much of a reader and words dont get me as excited as visuals (sorry writers |D)
2) we roleplay and i see that the character is well developed through their words and actions, and the relationship between our own characters is well done and believable. This doesnt happen often but i have had good roleplaying partners in the past!
I guess its because the stuff im studying includes character development, so I’ve learned to judge whether or not a character is well or poorly done, and therefore its harder to win me over with OCs unless they’re done well. :’D This is probably the reason why adoptables arent appealing to me. Sure sometimes the design looks nice and usually the creator will put some kind of lore for the design to entice people to buy it, but it isnt enough for me to spend money on it. To me a character isnt a character unless you give them life, otherwise its really just a design in a blank space. I know obviously not everyone thinks this way and its probably because I’m not in the adoptables fad that I’m not seeing something, but thats just how I view them.
Not only that but make them interesting: Alright this one is a no brainer. |D But a lot of people do have a hard time getting people sucked in to their character’s world. So lets say you made a comic, drew a bunch of stuff with your characters doing stuff and people still arent showing any interest in your work. (granted that you’ve been showing people your stuff and that you’re not totally unknown) Then theres probably one or two things wrong: 1. Your characters and story arent well developed or 2. Your art skill isnt conveying the right mood, expressions and atmosphere to get people sucked into the world. Even writing a novella on the character’s backstory and giving them 1000 personality traits doesnt do anything for me because I havent seen your character do anything yet. I dont care if your character’s whole clan was killed off. I dont care if your character was enslaved for 100,000 years. I dont care if your character is a half demon half werewolf half neko pangenderfluid polysexual transsquirrelkin penguin princess. If they dont DO anything interesting to get me to like them, all of those labels and traits are meaningless. Not saying that backstory isnt important, they do help give your character depth, but they wont be that important in the long run as your character grows and develops. Many reasons why I dont roleplay anymore is because of too many mary-sues and poorly written characters (among other things) and it can be frustrating |’D You may notice that I often dont like writing essays like this in my character descriptions because I just dont think theres a point until AFTER people get interested in the character first. Maybe I’ll write a paragraph about their personality, basic info and background just to hook people in, but I want to let my character’s actions show people who they are first.
My characters do need a lot of work in terms of development and design, thats why I’m making these comics so you guys can see that! Eventually I do wanna make a serious comic with actual thought and effort put into it, so right now these stupid silly comics are like testing the waters of comic making x’D
As for improving your art skill, people might not think this is a very important factor, but if you’re not good at conveying emotion with words (like me) you need to rely on your drawing and coloring skills to convey the mood you’re trying to get across effectively. (especially important if you want to be a comic artist) Amateur artwork can be distracting from getting the emotion across because we just see too many mistakes rather than focusing on what you’re trying to communicate to the audience. I cant get invested in a character if the artwork just isnt at the level where the expressions, mood and environment arent communicating to me clearly. My favorite style of artwork is those 'cinematic’, illustrative types of artworks that kinda implies a story. Kinda like scenes you’d see in a movie. This is the type of artwork that gets me sucked in and want to know more about the character, because the emotion and expressions on the character are displayed clearly and the atmosphere of the environment is done so well to get me immersed in the world. If I wanna get invested in a non-serious story, funny comics and silly stuff can win me over, but I tend to be more picky with those. Not with the art skill so much but the actions and expressions of the characters, as well as the dialogue. I love comedy but it needs to be done well, otherwise I’ll just think its plain dumb |D
Even when I draw commissions for people I try to add these elements in to get me more engaged with the character and the drawing. Most of the time I have no idea who this character is or what they’re like, so I oftentimes have to get inside the commissioners head to see what they’re trying to get across with this scene or I have to invent a personality trait for the character to get myself more invested in this drawing. When I do this, the artwork tends to turn out better than if I had not.
How to start: As artists, we always want people to get interested in our own ideas, but it can be hard because the things that we know about our characters and stories are completely new and foreign to others and you need to realize that people usually wont be interested at first glance. Dont force your ideas and characters on people to try to get them interested, that will just turn them off more. Instead just put your stuff out there and let them come to you naturally. Its kinda like becoming friends or falling in love, just let it happen naturally and the bond will become stronger.
If you’re new to this character making stuff, try these things out:
1. Watch shows/movies or read books/comics with your favorite characters. See why you like these characters so much and try to find out how you can make your characters just as likable. This is where most people find inspiration to make characters, including me!
2. Get inspired by people and the environment around you. Most of the time you’ll know someone that isnt like anyone you’ve seen before in tv or media. Use them as a model for a completely new character! Dont always rely on the internet for inspiration, since so many things have already been copied from something else.
3. Make a LOT of characters and weed out the bad ones. I made a LOT of characters in the past and many of them I didnt like AT ALL. I didnt completely scrap all of them, but I did try to improve them. Try to make every character unique and different, you’ll get more invested in them if they’re not cut-outs or stereotypes.
4. Try roleplaying with people. I know that sometimes people dont like doing this because they have to deal with a lot of frustrating rp partners, but if youre a newbie at making characters, this can help! It can help you with your writing and character development skills (granted that you have a good rp partner of course xD). I personally never did this when I was developing my characters, but I have seen people make great characters that started from rping.
After you’ve developed your characters to the max and your art style is on point and you think your stuff is pretty gold, but your stuff STILL isnt getting the feedback you want, just be persistent and dont give up. If you’re really passionate about what you do and you work your ass off trying to improve no matter what, eventually you’ll get a small (of maybe even really large!) following of people who will see that in your work and will adore the stuff you do. And sometimes thats all you really need to keep going! Will your audience keep being interested with what you’re doing? Maybe. Thats really up to you and where you want to take your stuff. I eventually want to take my stuff to a more serious route and I’m not sure how that will end up (not to say that I wont add some humor of course haha) but we’ll see!
Feel free to share thoughts, ask questions or correct me if I said something wrong, especially if you’re an actual professional at this stuff. :’D