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A Note About Character Design, From An Artist

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Meadow Whisper (Natasha):
I saw this post by a talented artist and friend of mine, Genesis Whitmore, and thought it'd be a good thing to have here.  The original post is here, and is transcribed below.
I powwow with artists sometime and during one discussion the subject of people's characters came up. I'm altering the specifics just in case someone is afraid I'm singling them out, but basically it came down to someone loudly insisting their character was unique because they had different colored markings. Their cheetah had blue and purple spots while someone else's cheetah had purple and blue spots.

 I can almost discern the age and creation timeline of someone's character by their appearance these days. A lot of the old guard represent themselves with fairly common characters that resemble their creators. As time went on people started picking more exotic creatures, then we ended up with characters that had wings, multiple tails, horns, then hybrid animals, then exotic colors and more horns and wings and tails and elaborate tattoos and jewelry, and they were no longer known by their creator names. Joe Fox became Steeltalon Dragonwolfen (And if there is a Steeltalon Dragonwolfen, I apologize for taking your name in vain).

 All this is well and good, but one of the problems is that people are creating characters for the sole purpose of them being different with no thought to design. They just want MORE wings, MORE bright colors, MORE words in the name, MORE hybrid.

 One thing I find in common with the really detailed and strange creations is that the creator always has the same complaint about their commissions, “Nobody ever gets my character right!” It's amazing how few people consider that they just have a crazy design that needs to be simplified or changed instead of simply blaming the artist.

 During a livestream I pulled my blotter sheet under the camera view so people could see the mad swatches of color that covered it from me testing the hundreds of colors I use as I work. Then I got a black marker and drew a simple black rectangle next to it. I asked the audience which was more memorable and the answer was the black marking.

 Look at iconic characters from comics and consider how many have very simple color schemes. Their uniforms are 1-3 colors. Some have weird physical characteristics but not all of them. The thing that makes the character unique is what it does and how it acts.

 People are losing sight of what makes a character unique and turning them into impressionist paintings rather than characters. Having spots that are six different colors isn't the thing that will make you stand out, and in the long run it might, in fact, make you more of a complicated mess that nobody really finds that memorable as it gets lost in a sea of sparkledogs.

 Weird colors are fine, wings and horns and other things are fine as well, but remember that more isn't always better, or as memorable.

★Panda★:

--- Quote from: Natasha Softpaw on November 15, 2011, 03:47:43 pm ---I saw this post by a talented artist and friend of mine, Genesis Whitmore, and thought it'd be a good thing to have here.  The original post is here, and is transcribed below.

All this is well and good, but one of the problems is that people are creating characters for the sole purpose of them being different with no thought to design. They just want MORE wings, MORE bright colors, MORE words in the name, MORE hybrid.


--- End quote ---

OH MY GOSH.
This, THIS THIS THIS.
It bugs me TO NO END when people do ridiculous things just to stand out. Speaking in terms of fursonas, apparently they've changed from something representing YOU to WHO CAN BE THE MOST UNIQUE. Hybrids and colors I understand, but do you really identify with a shark-tiger-werehorse? I think not.

Seriously, it's just ridiculous now. I remember an artist awhile back looking for unique species to draw. I entered my ref, jokingly saying, "if you want something unique, how about a platypus?" And this girl who was an ~albino~ platypus commented, saying how hers was OMG ~MORE~ UNIQUE, as she was the "first and ONLY ~albino~ platypus.
Like, really?

Maybe an albino platypus does represent you, I don't know. But no need to rub it in other's faces about how "unique" your fursona is. We all know you're a special snowflake.

Of course, I kinda feel the opposite way, in terms of species, as well...I always find it hard to believe that SO many people identify the most with wolves or foxes.

[edit: Just saw this was a sticky instead of just a general thread ^^; Sorry for ranting so much if that wasn't your intention of this thread]

copb.phoenix:
As always, the MSLT to save the day, docks you 3 points for each of the following:
- Part of the name is a noun.
- Part of the name is an adjective.
- Character is perfectly normal except the color scheme.
- Character's body is more detailed than their clothing.
- Name has at least half as many diacriticals/apostrophes as syllables.

4 points for:
- Part of the name is a body part.
- Character has no clothing - because clothing is less interesting than the characters body.
- Name has more diacriticals/apostrophes than syllables.
- Name includes a celestial body.
- Character is a fashion plate.

I've seen people fail based on name, age, gender, height, and clothing before - and that's just two sections of an 8 section check for sanity. However, that's less important if you just want a character and more and important if eg; you're a writer who wants a decently rounded character.

I really think people need to stop going for "wow" and "my 'sona has better/more/etc than your 'sona" and embrace what they want. And maybe that is what they want, and I'd encourage those people to go ahead and take it - but I find it hard to believe that every single outrageous one I've seen isn't an attempt to either outdo someone else or else be popufur by trying to fit in with other people's insanity.

Yes, I just said popufur. Twice. Deal with it. Or don't and get yourself fur-ious. That's okay too. Last claws - woof woof! :3

The Woolly One:
I fully agree with that post. Simpler designs often make far more memorable and visually pleasing characters. I honestly cringe sometimes when I see people with characters which have absurd colour pallets, which possess wacky accessories, which have strange physical attributes, and which happen to be ridiculously biologically-unfeasible hybrids. I could also say I am somewhat critical of overly bland character which are usually overused species and have little to define them. Really, I think there needs to be a stable balance of both "extraordinary" and "normal" traits to create an interesting character.

Of course, I still believe all members of the fandom should be able to create any types of characters that they wish and I know that this is ultimately just my own personal opinion. But I still think it is fair to politely share your opinion on what you like/dislike about particular fursonas.

Blaidd:
I completely agree. I've seen some of the most wackiest 'sonas out there and, you know what? I can only remember the fact that they were severely oddball and way too flashy and not much else. I like simple character designs because it really does let the character them self speak and not their looks.

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