CHARACTER DESIGN OVERVIEW
1. Reference Materials
Reference Materials should be gathered from as many different sources as possible. If everything you get is taken of the web chances are you're missing a lot of the good stuff. Don't be afraid to look through the Making of Books in our library, grab frames from films you have seen, and even go out and take photos of your own. For more info go here.
2. Character Exploration
Exploration Sketches are not meant to be polished in any way. Keep your drawing loose which should allow you to do more variations and take greater risks. There will be time to polish later as the direction of your design becomes more refined. Character Exploration sketches should be arranged on a single page, per character. For more info go here.
3. Expression & Pose Sheets
At this stage You will be refining the design choices you have made from your Exploration Sketches. This will consist of testing their range of acting through facial expression (Expression Sheets) and body gestures (Pose Sheets). Depending on your preference/needs a combined Expression/Pose sheet can be devoted to each of your primary characters. For more info go here.
4. Character Line-ups
The Character Line-up allows you to see all the characters in your film in relation to one another. This is extremely important not only to get your scale correct but to see how their design chemistry is playing off of each other. To do this all of the characters must be laid out horizontally on a single page with scale lines behind them (kind of like a police line-up. Feel free to draw your characters on separate pages and use Photoshop to combine the line-up on a single page. For more info go here.
5. Character Turn-arounds
The Turn-around lets you see your character from all angles. This is important to both CG Modelers and Stop-motion puppet builders but equally important to traditional animators who need to know exactly how each particular angle is going to be stylized. Often the Turn-around will help the designer avoid awkward angles in stylized characters thereby limiting the audiences access by keeping only flattering angle available (ie. Never showing a particular character at a perfect profile). For more info go here.
6. Color Studies
Once you have established the overall design of your characters use the Character Line-up sheets to experiment with different color combinations. You should at least try a cool and warm approach and then maybe a couple that mixes things up a bit. For more info and examples go here.
7. Approved Character Designs
These are the final "Director Approved" designs that can now make there way into the pipeline. Anything that hasn't been nailed down here is left up to the interpretation of production artists down the line.