Character designers are artists in charge of the development and the realization of a character to be used within an animation project, video game or live action product.
They work closely with game designers, directors and writers, as well as with Character Modelers and Character Animators. In most cases, they work in an animation studio, post-production studio or game house rather than as freelancers.
They visualise and create individual characters’ appearance starting from descriptions given by the director, or presented within a Game Design Document, including notes on character personalities and physical traits. Character design artists take inspiration from the script and concept art to design the characters, communicating their personalities through facial expression sketches and dynamic poses.
They carry out researches on character anatomy and fashion styles relevant to the project’s structure and development. In the production of a game, character design must also take into account game mechanics and the type of human-computer interaction. Characters are drawn on paper or digitally, and represented in a variety of drawings, usually including several designs for each individual character.
Once a design has been approved, 'model sheets' are created showing the character from different angles. In 3D animation, these will be used by modellers to create the characters. In 2D animation, animators use the model sheets directly to ensure that each animated frame is 'on model'. Storyboard Artists will also incorporate these drawings into their work as the project develops.
Character Designer may be an entry level role, but with the right training you may quickly grow within the industry. Choosing a dedicated path with an in-depth approach to the arts such as concept art, 3D modelling, dramaturgy and visual communication is definitely a plus, allowing a strong acceleration at the beginning of your career.