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"Changing a Character's design", One week ago, 5:53 PM #1
phoenixjklin

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Changing a character's design for me is terrifying. I've thought about it for a while, and for the record it's not their accessories or clothing, that doesn't faze me so much, but their body and hair. The hair for my characters are what I see as the defining features of who they are, so to change that completely terrifies me.
Do you find it scary to change your characters and/or their most iconic features?
How did you do it and do you have any advice on how to keep the character's charm and/or identity intact through that process?
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One week ago, 5:57 PM #2
MK_Wizard

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I like to keep it subtle and for it to be something natural and a change that can make sense. Like for example, weight loss, hair growing according to the mood or season or just the characters are getting older. I don't do dramatic changes because I myself don't like looking at it. Plus, it gets confusing of who's who. If you can't tell people apart, how will your readers?
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One week ago, 5:58 PM #3
wr3h

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I think it would help to sketch out the character w/ different designs to experiment and see which ones you like!

Say that you want to keep the hair, try changing other features then! See where it goes.

For my characters, especially Amelia and Marco, they were orignally white. I then changed their skin colour, hair types and personalities and they became better characters for it. Don't be afraid to do drastic changes if you can! You can always go back!
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One week ago, 5:59 PM #4
phoenixjklin

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MK_Wizard:

Yes, I definitely agree with all of that.
However I still haven't posted the first page of my reboot, so I still have the chance to make dramatic changes to the characters. I'm just scared I won't see them as the same character anymore.

wr3h:

Very good points! I'll experiment!
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One week ago, 6:05 PM #5
MST3KFan

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This post is making me think a bit as my comic attempts to go in 'real time'. In other words, the cast ages like real world people, but I haven't really been showing that very well outside of a recent puppy addition from this last Christmas that has slowly been getting bigger.

One of my major cast is a little girl that started around 6-7 years old when the comic started back in 2014, and she hasn't changed much in appearance in these past (almost) four years really. She should be around 10-11 years old now, and so I've been thinking on how to go about showing her changing other than drawing her taller.

In all honesty, it's hard to changing the appearances of the characters you've worked on for years simply because you're used to them being a certain way, you know? Unless it's flashbacks, then somehow it's easy to draw them differently as it's the characters as they were in the past.
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One week ago, 6:07 PM #6
Wartooth

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I have character design changes written into the script. When a character undergoes a change in design, it is incorporated into the scene as a moment of growth for them. You could do this same thing. Bring the change to the attention of the reader and use it as a way to make the character feel fresh again.

It can be tricky to change things on your character after they had been this way for a long time. Some of my characters still have features from their very first iteration just because I have grown too attached to it. I should drop it, but I can't haha
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One week ago, 6:10 PM #7
Sikyanakotik
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Your characters' designs are going to change over time anyway, both as your art style develops and through story events. So there's no reason not to make some of those changes deliberate. Design is iteration, after all.
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One week ago, 6:13 PM #8
Mothtrap
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During or outside of a comic? Ive done relatively minor changes in comic and I think that's fine as long as the general look of the character is the same and they can be recognised (and it doesn't happen too often)

Outside of a comic, yeah I know it can be hard to change a character's design in a major way if you really love the character as they are. Why are you thinking of changing the character? I've changed things like the race and gender of characters for other projects because I kept making casts of mostly just white men and wanted to change that. I kept the characters 'the same' by making sure that their core roles and personalities didn't change.

For example, I have a character called Erin who used to be a man called Eric. Her role as a hired thug has not changed. She is still a rough-and-tumble, brutish sort of character, and lots of aspects of her design remained the same - she still has ginger hair, wears neon yellow, and she has he same relationships to the other characters as before. Then you find aspects of the new design to lean into and find enjoyment in. With Erin, I just enjoy having a big scary lady and made her a taller, more violent character than before to emphasise that.

So why are you changing your characters? Do you like the new designs as much as the old ones? I think if you can find new things that you love about your new designs it'll open up new pathways of character design you maybe didn't consider before.
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One week ago, 6:31 PM #9
phoenixjklin

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MST3KFan:

Yes, I also intend on staying as true to "real time" as possible when it comes to changing characters during the comic. I just don't want to begin the comic and regret where I started (again, hence the reboot).

Wartooth:

Ah, that's clever.
I started my comic in 2015 but put it on hiatus because I was displeased with how the story started out. Now the characters haven't changed apart from clothing ever since. I've gotten really attached to the designs, but at the same time I find it difficult to keep drawing the same thing over and over again, especially since my drawing style has changed so much since, that it doesn't really look as good in my current drawing style as it did in the past.

Sikyanakotik:Your characters' designs are going to change over time anyway, both as your art style develops and through story events. So there's no reason not to make some of those changes deliberate. Design is iteration, after all.

Very good point.

Mothtrap:

Ah, outside of the comic. I'm currently planning the reboot, but what keeps me from working on it is I don't want to waste time on pages only to then change my mind because I've changed the appearance of a character.
I kept the characters 'the same' by making sure that their core roles and personalities didn't change.

Oh, that's really interesting. I also love that you wanted to break the "all-white-men-cast". I've done that as well, which is actually how my characters Zachary and Samantha came to be.
I haven't found a new design to be honest, partly because I'm scared to experiment, partly because I can't find a replacement- in this case -hairstyle for the character.
I mainly want to change the character because it just doesn't look as good anymore. My style has changed alot,and in 2015 I mainly aimed to draw teen/young adult-looking characters, which is what I was aiming for, yet now my characters tend to look more adult. Not too adult to not fit the age I initially set for them, but some designs now look a bit odd. I don't know if I should just practice drawing the same designs until I get them right, or if I should just search for a new design entirely.
I will have to sit down and have a long think about what I want the character to look like, also thinking about what could contribute to them wanting, or not wanting, to look that way.
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One week ago, 7:25 PM #10
Timelapse11

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When I started Surge I intended Clara to change shirts sometimes, but I kept forgetting and now it kinda feels pointless, there is going to be a time jump near the start of chapter three, so Clara will have longer hair and Stephanie will be too big for Clara to carry around like she does in the other chapters.
I don't really like changing a character's design too much, I don't wanna cause confusion, and I've gotten used to drawing them the way they are.
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One week ago, 7:34 PM #11
phoenixjklin

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Timelapse11:

Ah, yes. I'm still torn between deciding if my characters will change clothes at times, or if they will have the same thing all the way through (apart from winter jackets and such for colder climate), but then again I could get away with never changing it, because since my comic takes place in an apocalyptic world-state, there's not really an option to carry around your whole wardrobe.
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One week ago, 8:34 PM #12
Fluffythespider
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I like to use character design to try and give additional information about a character, whether it be something literal, like a dead parent's necklace or a work uniform or a shirt from their favorite band, or something symbolic and more metaphorical. I have a character who always wears a red scarf around his neck, because red is the color that represents the people who have control over him. In the story, he only wears it because he found it and is used to having to scrounge around for clothes and stuff.

What a character chooses to look like can be as important as physical things, like whether they are short or thin or whatever.
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One week ago, 8:50 PM #13
phoenixjklin

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Fluffythespider:

Ah, I love that! Jacoby started out with having a huge cross necklace (there is a reason behind it), but with time it has gotten smaller, and at times I've forgotten it completely. It just doesn't resonate with me as well anymore. Maybe it's time for a new thing, or maybe I should flesh out the reason behind why he wants to wear it at all times.
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One week ago, 9:33 PM #14
Paulie Blade

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When it comes to visuals, try to sneak something more than a hairstyle that would make a character distinguishable, whether it's a pointy nose, wide eyes, narrow lips, bulching cheekbones, round forehead etc... There are many variables and I always try to "compose" a character by setting a combination of those.
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One week ago, 10:02 PM #15
phoenixjklin

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Paulie Blade:

This is a good thing to remember. I've actually subconsciously started looking at my characters and the way I draw them to see what facial features I've given them that are different from others. There aren't many at the moment, they basically all look the same, but I'm starting to think about what I could change and/or add to make them more distinguishable. Thanks for bringing this up to my conscious mind, heh.
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6 days ago, 4:48 AM #16
SharpyTheYellowKirby
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I've redesigned characters multiple times, but never to the point where they're unrecognizable. There's slight changes between their older designs and newer designs, but hell, even if you go back all the way to a character's debut after seeing how they look now, you'd still be able to tell who's who.
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6 days ago, 5:16 PM #17
Microraptor
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My drawing style suffers a bit from "same face syndrome", so I know how changing a character's hairstyle can be a tricky business. I usually try to keep the color scheme of the clothes though.
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6 days ago, 5:50 PM #18
phoenixjklin

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SharpyTheYellowKirby:

Well that's good! I think I'll just have to find the things other than the character's hair that makes them recognizable and maybe enhance them.

Microraptor:

Ah, same here. I'm currently trying to work on making the faces different and more distinguishable without having to see the whole character.
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Forum > Webcomic & Art discussion > Changing a Character's design
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