Graphic Designer & Illustrator


A place to share my point of view on the arts and entertainment. You can also catch me on Twitter @emerycmiller

Character Flaws: The Evolution of Unintelligent Character Design

IF YOU WERE TO DO AN IMAGE SEARCH FOR CHARACTER DESIGN right now, you’d likely see something like this. They look like professional Character Designs, don't they? Slick digitally colored characters, turned around in space. Let's take a closer look.

Sometimes, Google search results are misleading. The algorithm uses filenames, site context, and image recognition to group images. Then it optimizes based on clicks. The most clicked images are considered to be a match. That's fine if you're searching for pictures of antique cars. But as we become dependent on the internet for answers, I would expect to see more authoritative examples of character design from a variety of films and games. There is a glut of fan art and student work that is spoiling the results.

I see a lot of good looking humans. Looks are important, but looks aren't everything. Personality is a key ingredient. So is story. A telltale sign of amateur character design is a lack of story. Even if characters are well drawn, they can't exist without a story. There's a term for characters without a story. Doodles. 

Don't get me wrong. Good characters can inspire a story. Fun unique characters and creatures. Bipeds. Quadrupeds. The possibilities are endless! The world doesn't need another human warrior coming-of-age story. And the adorkable kids look like adorkable kids I've seen before.

Let’s say that you don’t know anything about character design for games and animation. How would you distinguish good from bad when it’s all lumped together like this?

Feel free to jot down your thoughts in the comments section!