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Character design; Questions, tips, and queries. 
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Post Character design; Questions, tips, and queries.
Designing characters is an important part of visual art. You want to make them interesting and visually appealing. Otherwise, it doesn't matter how good an artist you are; the art you make of that character won't be fun to look at. So this is a thread to give advice, ask for advice, and anything else in relation to character design. As the forum is majorly furry, these things will be nice to keep in mind when designing your fursona, if you don't already have one, or want to make changes.

Here's some stuff I like to remember, but I don't pretend to be exceedingly knowledgeable on the subject.

Some general guidelines:
1) TRY to keep the design simple. Excessive markings or complicated or intricate fur patterns are difficult to reproduce continuously. And even if you think you can get it right every time, you can expect requests, art trades, or even commissions to simplify or ignore complex markings, and commissioning the character may cost more money than a simple character. It can also be very overwhelming to the viewer.

2) Try to make the design of the character match his/her personality and character traits. You can get creative with symbolism here. Give them things like scars and habits to match their back story.

3) Try to stay away from Special Snowflake Syndrome. In the furry case, there's a lot of stuff that can push you over the edge. However, a little creativity is great, so it can be hard to know what crosses the line. Ask a friend if it looks obnoxious. Here are a few common traits.
- Fur color. You can have up to five naturally occurring fur colors. Take that number down to three if any of the colors would not be seen in real life. Additionally, try not to ever use colors with the highest saturation possible. If you absolutely have too, drop the number down to two.
- If you chose to make it a mythical creature, you have to make it as normal as possible. No exceptions. If it is a unicorn, it does not have to have robotic legs and rainbow fur with an eye patch and wings.
- Only birds and bats are allowed to have wings. No exceptions.
- Skim this list for obnoxious traits. Some of them are acceptable, though. use your better judgement.

4) Think about choosing a unique species. I've seen some really interesting anthropomorphs. If it doesn't need to be a wolf or a fox, don't make it a wolf or a fox. Don't limit yourself to non-humans, either!

A few tips:
1) I think eyes are just a great way to customize them to fit your character. I love to use the eyes as a way to associate the design with the personality. I have one character with completely black eyeballs, and several with different colored eyes. It's a great thing to utilize, because you'll get a lot of acceptable breaks from reality there, and they really highly customizable, and can draw a lot or very little attention immediately. You can get a little metaphorical with it too, in such that the design of their eyes relates to how they see the world. It's just a cool thing to have fun with in your characterization process.

2) Make your character represent something. Sleep, anger, the Middle East, anything. It makes everything else easier in that you can base everything on this on, central, unifying idea.

3) Give them a specific outfit. You can make the clothes work with the design better that way.

4) Draw on previously established symbolism. Use heart to associate love, circles to represent eternity or whatever, etc. do not, however, mark them with hearts and stars just because it's cute. Try to have reasons for all of their unique markings.

5) Look at the principles of art. You can use these to help not only make sure your character looks good, but again they can be useful in connecting their appearance to their character.

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Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:12 pm
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Post Re: Character design; Questions, tips, and queries.
I'll go ahead and quote my post from waaaay back in Chat Thread 23. It's on fursona design, but a lot of these principles can apply to other characters as well, furry or non-furry.
Sleet wrote:
Note that it's important to stick out without being obnoxious. Most furries forget that second part.

1.) A colorful fursona is fine. The more colors you use, however, the more distracting and unnatural the color scheme becomes. Multicolored fursonas should have patterns that somewhat resemble fur patterns that appear on real animals (even if the colors are completely unrealistic), unless the point is to look "painted."
2.) Held props are fine, but should not be relied upon to distinguish a fursona. Presumably a person is not perpetually holding something, after all.
3.) Be careful with piercings and "tattoos." Too many makes your fursona look like a freak. Avoid having more than a human would have unless you want your fursona to look freakish.
4.) Combining species is risky business; it's alright to be a hybrid, but it's best to make sure your fursona looks like it could be one species. Notice how a platypus doesn't look like a duck's head on a beaver's body; features fade. Mimic this principle with hybrid fursonas.
5.) Don't have too many defining features. The more eye-catching a deviation is, the more "normal" your fursona should be in other ways. If you want your wolf girl to have wings, she probably shouldn't have three tails, for instance.
6.) These are all guidelines that can be broken in the right circumstance, but should generally be stuck to unless you're confident enough to do otherwise, or trying to do something very specific.

My fursona's only distinctions are the necklace, the glasses, and the hardly noticeable gray mechanical eye.

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Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:17 pm
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Post Re: Character design; Questions, tips, and queries.
Hmm, this is certainly helpful, Psykeout, Sleet.

I've been dawdling on the idea of drawing a fursona to represent myself (the one I've posted in the Fanart thread doesn't really portray me very well), so the guidelines will certainly help, especially since I only know a bit about furry character design.

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Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:40 pm
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