Character Designer – Everything You Need To Know

Irrespective of age, we have our all-time favorite characters from the animation world. The Mickeys and Donald ducks are housed forever in our hearts. So, ever given a thought to how these characters come to life? All of these characters are born from the drawings of the character designer. They are designed, animated, and given personalities that add life. Thus, they become iconic characters in 2G and 3G animation, resulting in character design.

Who is a Character Designer?

A character designer creates characters for animated movies, comics, commercials, toys, and children’s books. Character design is the creation of a character, including its personality, behavior, and appearance. The job of character designers is to create characters for storytelling. Every aspect of the character, such as the color, shapes, voice, and other details, is chosen based on the story and storytelling. All these details give the character designer an insight into the visual attributes of the character. They are effective in helping the artist to come up with the desired character design.

What Makes a Good Character Design?

There are a few key components that help in an effective character design.

  • Silhouette
  • Color palette
  • Exaggeration


The silhouette is an essential component of the character design. Therefore, you should recognize a good design solely from the silhouette. The silhouette speaks about the character even after removing the colors and details. To make this possible, the character designer should understand shapes and contribute to the design.


It is the character designer’s choice of colors. While selecting the colors, the character designer should be selective and use one color as the dominant color of the characters and keep the other color colors at a minimum. 


Anything creative that requires imagination is connected with exaggeration. A character designer needs to exaggerate characters that help to enhance the emotions and coalesce the audience with it and the story. 

How Does a Character Designer Work?

A character designer should be able to visualize and create characters for films, commercials, comic books, and video games. They work with the help of the scripts and storyline and turn descriptions into live characters with personalities. To do this, they need to be good at a few things.


It would be best if you are technically well-versed in drawing and able to create various styles with solid attention to detail to bring out the character.


Use your imagination and ideas that add spark to the director’s concept of the character and help in storytelling.


Collaborate and coordinate with the director by understanding what he needs and acting accordingly to bring out the results.


You should be able to understand what the animators can do and create designs appropriately.


Be passionate about animation and movies related to it.

Roles and Responsibilities of Character Designer

The goal of a character designer is to breathe life into ideas and imaginations. They must be able to create images with fun and frolic that can be animated to catch the audience’s interest. Character designers must excel in drawing, imagination, and other technical skills.

  • Research extensively regarding the look, character’s style, and genre of the film or video game.
  • Coordinating with the scriptwriters, designers, and animators on the character’s appearance to bring out the best results.
  • Developing various styles and versions concerning the look and appearance.
  • Create characters that are relatable to the storyline and engage the audience.
  • Thoroughly understand the character’s role and draw accordingly.
  • Collaborate with the director and other concept artists for visual consistency and the overall look of the characters.
  • Draw the characters from different angles with different expressions.
  • Adhere to the production schedules.
  • Handle problem-solving and creative challenges concerning scenes and sequences.

Skills Required for Character Designer

Character designers must be experts at specific skill sets for producing the designs and characters that fit into the films and video games. In addition, they must excel in drawing, visualizing, listening to directors’ wants, and communicating.

  • Must possess drawing skills and specialize in character design.
  • Skilled in visual storytelling.
  • A strong understanding of visualization includes texture, color, dimension, scale, perspective, shade, composition, depth of field, proportion, etc.
  • You must know the images’ facial expressions, poses, gestures, and movements.
  • Must be knowledgeable in animation and game development processes.
  • Must be able to draw in various styles
  • Should know anatomy, zoology, costuming, physical settings, and history-related information connected with the character.
  • Technical knowledge in sketching.
  • Must have the ability to explain concepts and communicate effectively.
  • Exhibit time management skills to meet deadlines.
  • Must be able to work independently and be a good team player.

Tools Used by the Character Designer

Character designers need drawing skills and efficiently use physical tools like pencils, paper, ink, etc., to create a design. However, eventually, everything is done in digital form. Then, the plans get into the animated form through software and digital tools.

  • 3D Studio Max
  • Maya
  • Blender
  • Adobe Photoshop 
  • Mudbox
  • TvPaint 
  • ToonBoom Harmony
  • Zbrush
  • Substance Designer
  • Quixel
  • CelAction

Steps  Followed by the Character Designer

A character designer must follow specific processes or steps while designing a character. Below are the steps followed in character designing.


The character designer should prepare before drawing a character. He needs to understand the character’s requirements and related things such as anatomy, shape, phycology, colors, and storyline. Theoretical knowledge helps in realistic drawings where an image comes to life.


Writing a prompt helps to narrow in on how a character needs to be created and its role in the story. It gives a character designer a clear view of how to bring up the character. This is a practical and helpful step in character design.


A character designer should go through various resources and contacts to gain inspiration for the character he is building. It includes animation, photography, comics, paintings, and movies.


A thumbnail is where the designer creates loose sketches, and the ideas come to life on the paper. One of the standard ways to make a thumbnail is by sketching silhouettes. Silhouettes are the blueprints for a character designer.

Final linework

Once the sketches are done, the artist starts to finalize the character design. Details like linework, color, etc., add flesh to the character. However, a character designer should keep looking to improve the character design to blend it with the storyline.

Salary of a Character Designer

A character designer makes a pretty good amount, and the salaries range from $10,002 to $107,666, with an average salary of $21,182. According to, 57% of character designers earn between $21,182 and $49,897, while the top 86% earn around $107,666. 

Difference Between Concept Artist and Character Designer

Both concept artists and character designers are involved with creativity and imagination. The role of a concept artist is to create rough sketches of characters, while a character designer engages in refining and developing the character by adding style, look, and colors. However, concept artists work on other projects like creating scenery or animation in TV shows, and character designers work solely on the character.



Character designers are the foundation of animation. Famous studios like Disney and Pixar work with talented character designers to bring iconic characters that fit into the storylines. A character designer converts a character’s personality and physical looks into illustrations with life by adding details like posture, color, gesture, and facial expressions. So, if you are interested in becoming a character designer, thought of trying your hands at this, are looking for a future in this genre, or found one where you can shine, take this blog as a guide and move ahead in your career!


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