When you start drawing illustrations and mangas using original characters that you have created from scratch….
It gives you a sense of accomplishment that you can’t get from fan fictions or secondary works, and you become attached to the characters you have created.
I want to create an original character too! But they might turn out one-dimensional. So here, I’ll give you guys some tips for creating attractive characters.

【Prepare before brainstorming characters】

●First decide on world building!

I believe this is a very important part.

In illustrations and mangas, before you get started on the character’s appearance and personality, I first think about the world building and setting.

Let’s say I want to create a character who is a high school girl.

However if you draw her just as “a girl in a school uniform”, she doesn’t have anything unique, other than she is cute because it’s hard to see what her kind of story she comes from.

The second picture above illustrates a student who travels between and plays an active role in her real world and another fantasy world.
The gap between her normal school uniform and the otherworldly items creates a nice contrast.

The third picture above is of a brilliant mad science student who loves to experiment.
She looks normal, but I used some items to make her stand out.

As you can see, even with the same face, the same haircut, and the same clothes, different world-building and settings can give a completely different impression.

In the case of illustrations you may think, “I just want to draw one picture, so I don’t need to delve into the setting that much…”. However, setting up a situation properly will help you come up with ideas very smoothly when you think about character design afterwards.
It’s a good to have many rough ideas.

【Decide on the characters’ appearances】

Once you’ve done a rough world-building, you can start thinking about the character’s appearance.

It is often said that “a good character design is one that can be recognized by its silhouette.
Ideally, you should be able to identify characters by their body shapes, hairstyles, etc., even when they are in shadows

The hair is especially important for recognizable silhouette.
By customizing detailed hairstyles, it is possible to identify the characters’ personalities.

Also in the case of humans, the silhouette changes with age, gender, and body shape.
How old is this character? Is he slender or plump? Muscular? How tall?
etc. Draw your character as you decide.

Silhouette is super important! But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give them outlandish hairstyles or outfits.
If the characters don’t fit in the world and era they live in then they will all look awkward.

For example, hair shapes and lengths that is impossible to maintain in real life, or nails that are very sharp are fantastic, but can be difficult to explain depending on the world you created.

Even small elements such as adding one-point decorations to the hair or clothes, or changing a part of the hair color can be enough to create originality.

Even if your appearance is not eccentric in any way, it is okay if your worldview and personality are well-developed.
In fact, when you aiming for a contrast, “casual look” can be one of your characteristics.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of doing something different, and take it easy.

【Decide on the characters’ personalities】

Once the appearance is done to a certain extent, let’s start thinking about the personality.
This is just as much fun as creating the visuals!
Especially when drawing manga, delving into this is the key to giving your character depth!

First, think about the general personality (attributes).
Are they bright or dark, active or quiet, sisterly or princely, etc.?

Then, flesh out the details.

●Boost Appeal with gaps in personality!

You can add depth to the character by adding inner personalities that are opposite to the main personality that appears on the surface, to balance outside personas like being cute or strong.
It is also effective to set likes and dislikes (weaknesses).

●Go Deep in Hidden Details 

It’s fun to set up detailed profiles, such as birthday, blood type, hometown, family structure, favorite foods, and so on.
Even if these details don’t appear in the story, they can be useful later on in the creation of the work.
Settings that relate to the character’s past and roots, such as family structure, are important because they provide background for the character’s words, actions, and behaviors, as well as support for the story.

☆Decide on the Reasons of the Characters’ Personalities

This is the most important part.

Let’s say you have a character who is “cool, ruthless, and heartless”.
If that’s all there is to him/her, it’s just a common characterization.
Think about why this character is so ruthless and heartless. Think about it.

“He’s actually very shy and pretends to be cool”.
“He lost someone in the past and can’t trust anything anymore”.
“I was born with a peculiar constitution that doesn’t allow for emotions.”

These are just a few of the patterns that come to mind.

You need to delve into the “why” of why the character is the way they are and why they act the way they do.
Whether or not you have done this will determine whether your character is flimsy or compelling.
To make your character unique and original, think about this carefully.

We have introduced several points for character creation.
The more you delve into it, the more attached you will become to your character, and the more compelling your manga and illustrations will become.
So by all means, go ahead and create your one-of-a-kind character!

(Texts・Illustration/Hara Naoko)