Comic Talk and General Discussion

Mindset when designing a character/ personalities
Udyr at 6:31AM, Aug. 19, 2017
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Right so I love comic talk, making this forum post about this particular thing; What usually are elements you choose when you do personality-designs of characters or how you want to put them together:

I've talked to people about it before and there's endless of ways to do it out there.
Some uses personality tests and read about them, then add them to their characters- some uses inspiration from their own lives or others, some put out ‘design sheets’ with likes/dislikes and such and I know some just uses tropes as a way to put together things.

Importance of characters is usually to stand out or to blend in with the right people to progress a storyline. A main character often suffer the ‘bland-syndrome’, to make the bi characters stand out more. But is this always the case?
So out of curiousity, what do you keep in mind when you design a character, and what do you try to avoid?
usedbooks at 7:28AM, Aug. 19, 2017
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I love making new characters! I love it so much that even “extras” have lives in my head (and sometimes graduate to recurring characters). There are two ways new characters arrive in my story. 1. I have a plot in mind that requires their creation or 2. The character popped into my head and now requires a plot so he can exist.

Both present challenges. In the first scenario, more significant characters will be alluded to and require only fleshing out. This can take years. (I tend to write scripts 2 or 3 years in advance and tweak them up through zeroth hour.) The difficulty comes when an introduced significant character has henchmen or cronies. Most of the difficulty comes in not being able to make “filler” characters. I try to think too deeply about each one rather than just deep enough for my needs. I also will borrow my own extras and background characters to fill roles, since I already put effort into their designs.

The second scenario is interesting because it sometimes solves a plotting hang-up I was having and often changes the course of the entire story. Because of my job, much of my inspiration comes from history. History is full of characters. Sometimes a character arises because of a bit of fiction I saw or read. Usually, these characters are antagonists, but there are occasional side characters and allies. Sometimes the inspiration is not for a new character but the character of someone mentioned but not introduced. When they flesh themselves out in my mind, I have to write their story (sometimes a long time coming). After it's in a script, I do my best to figure out where it fits. My current new antagonist Jack was created at least five years ago, his script waiting for the right time. (In a way, drawing Used Books is always a trip down memory lane to the conception of story years in the past.)


My main rules for my own character creation is that the character needs to have ideals and motivations that make sense to them (or not, in the case of emotional outbursts) and no duplicate characters in any facet. Each person must be unique, even “henchmen.”

I also like to be able to sum up the personality and driving forces in my head, so I can always keep them in character. And if the question arises “How would he react?” Or “What would he do?” I can immediately find the answer in the right mindset.

Examples:

Mike is emotion-driven, acts before thinking. He believes himself a coward but follows his heart.

Raidon considers himself a benevolent king and master of those he employs. He is controlling and insists on having things his way.

Jack loves life, good times, and wealth. Self-centered, no concern for others, but likes to have the “buddy” image.
Tantz_Aerine at 7:59AM, Aug. 19, 2017
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There have been some occasions where a character has popped up in my head, and was so alluring to me that I had to create a story to fit him/her in. But those instances are (at least for me) quite rare. Usually I first create the situation, then the characters.

When I say situation I don't mean the plot, I mean the issue, the struggle at hand. For example in Without Moonlight the situation is “to resist a nearly insurmountable oppressor”. Then I start to think and decide on what sort of personality is needed for a person to resist, and in what sort of behavior this resistance will translate (since not everyone resists the same way, assuming they've decided to).

Having decided on the personality traits and the key characteristics that fit the ‘slots’ if you like, of the situation, then I start thinking what sort of background would procure a person with these traits and characteristicts. What would they have to have lived through, what memories and experiences and events must have existed in their life and in what way so that they'd have their personality forged in the manner that I need it to be forged?

As I think about each character's background that would lead them to be the way they are, I also think about the current (i.e. most recent) events that will have determined specific reactions out of the characters, so that I can decide where they will be when the story begins, and where they, at least, will be wanting to go (regardless if after the plot happens they get there).

By the time I'm done with that, I got a basic setting of my characters' personalities and personal backgrounds that I feel is tangible and realistic. I don't feel the need for this work to always show in my comic, I trust it will if necessary, just like in real life we don't know every story of every person we meet unless we stop to ask :)
 
ozoneocean at 1:05AM, Aug. 20, 2017
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For my main characters their roles are what I use to design their personalities and appearances around. Like Ace Kinkaid: heroic looking classic adventurer type, yet also duplicitous and not to be trusted.

I don't Generally plan out my side characters at all though. I just put in people who look the part. When I draw them into a page, that's usually when I get my first look at them.
I only “meet” them and start to get to know them when they've got lines in my story or when other characters talk to them- much like when you meet new people in real like for the first time. If they're interesting I keep them around :)
 
bravo1102 at 4:03AM, Aug. 20, 2017
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I have gone with plot driven or setting driven ensemble casting. Since I use figures I have a pre-set pool to cast from.

There is a plot outline, now who do I need to move it along? What roles do I need to create and cast?

Where is the action occurring? Who normally occupies that place and would be there?

Many of my stories revolve around small groups meeting the unknown so I have to assemble an ensemble based on what the team in question is. Is it a remote advanced research facility, a star ship crew or an infantry squad?

Each spear carrier is given a job and a brief description of their motivation. Whoever appeals to me during the scripting process can often find themselves promoted to secondary characters. And if they survive they might even get promoted to main character. And example of this was Aura in Battle of the Robofemoids. I had her survive because possibilities presented themselves as production moved along.

The other character of Jenny introduced there would need a steadying influence so Aura would be that. Now what kind of person could steady one who is more impulsive? A parent. But not her own parent, but someone who had kids. Aura was created as a pilot. Now what if there was a career fleet officer and pilot who was also a mother?

So you have plot, setting, one-word character description motivators and “what-if?” all in the creation mind-set.
Udyr at 6:02AM, Aug. 20, 2017
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ozoneocean wrote:
For my main characters their roles are what I use to design their personalities and appearances around. Like Ace Kinkaid: heroic looking classic adventurer type, yet also duplicitous and not to be trusted.

I don't Generally plan out my side characters at all though. I just put in people who look the part. When I draw them into a page, that's usually when I get my first look at them.
I only “meet” them and start to get to know them when they've got lines in my story or when other characters talk to them- much like when you meet new people in real like for the first time. If they're interesting I keep them around :)

This is really cool, its very different how people work, no one has really said the same thing here. Haha the entire ‘I meet them on the page they’re introduced' i'm pretty familiar with.
I used to do that all the time, my main problem with that was the fact its super easy that the consistency suffers through out the comic.
Obviously the characters will evolve and change a bit because you get new ideas often as you go, but design and art-wise i've found the best way (for me) is to draw them BEFORE putting them into the comic.
I draw their features, eyes, etc over and over until I get them set-Depending on how much screentime they have, of course.
I just recently did this with my main characters in Extinct since especially the character Lara seemed to change a bit through out each page, so I had to ‘settle’ with what sort of eyes and features she'd have.
Some are easier to stay consistent than others.
Though personality wise it is often you plan a rough ‘aproximate’ feeling of how a character works but like you said they often form ON PAPER and not always just through planning ahead.

Another thing i used to back as a teen was doing roleplay /text rpg alot, so one of the ways one can ‘settle’ a character before drawing them is to basically write horrible fiction with them in it. I do a weird manus/crossover manuscript where i often write out some scenes down to detail. Then i re-write them later into a more less complex dialogue and draw thumbnails and put them together.
But yeah no one really know how they work before you've drawn a few scenes. :) i still get ‘those moments’ where you get new ideas or see new things in characters you hadnt seen before, its super fun.
KimLuster at 6:14AM, Aug. 20, 2017
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I'm closest to Ozone in my method… I'll have a general idea about a character (ie. head of a major corporation with possible ties to the underworld), but then I just start going and their personality just emerges!! I've literally planned page scripts down to the letter, but when I get into it, the characters will say something very different.

I've read about this phenomenon often from other creators, about characters taking on lives of their own, even doing or saying things you wished they didn't… So I just let them haha… Organic! Stream of Conscious!!
Udyr at 6:15AM, Aug. 20, 2017
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Its fun that so many are so into it too! Fun to read the different ways, often one find the way that works out for them.

I'm a super personality geek and often find putting together people super interesting.
Often I make a tiny ‘character sheet’ in my head where the character must have these boxes;

-A good trait, possibly the trait everyone ELSE sees or the trait they WANT others to see

-A bad trait, everyone gets one because we all have bad sides. Wether they slip it conciously or not is up to the entire grade of how bad it is.

-An issue, because all humans(or whatever it is) have some issues. Like either they have a mental issue like angst or they just seem to never be cut a slack and maybe are always unlucky or end up with trouble. It could be family trouble or anything.

- A life goal/motive, like what do they want to do with their lives because we all have some sort of dream we follow. Or maybe they basically lack a life goal?

Also obviously they need to fit into the story, depending on how strong this character is the story is either written around them, or the character is written ‘into’ it. Mostly the characters have places in the story from the start.
Udyr at 6:18AM, Aug. 20, 2017
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KimLuster wrote:
I'm closest to Ozone in my method… I'll have a general idea about a character (ie. head of a major corporation with possible ties to the underworld), but then I just start going and their personality just emerges!! I've literally planned page scripts down to the letter, but when I get into it, the characters will say something very different.

I've read about this phenomenon often from other creators, about characters taking on lives of their own, even doing or saying things you wished they didn't… So I just let them haha… Organic! Stream of Conscious!!

Yes those are the best characters! XD
Often one doesnt realise but you do subconciously make the characters with influence of yourself in them. Like its what i noticed through out my progress in comic making, but I decided to use it to make a character which ACTS on things which maybe someone normally don't. Like what do you get if you make a character with no moral compass?
Its fun when you get so self-observant you can actually play AGAINST the rules of your sub-conciousness in putting characters together based on your own personality or others around you.

usedbooks at 7:52AM, Aug. 20, 2017
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KimLuster wrote:
I've read about this phenomenon often from other creators, about characters taking on lives of their own, even doing or saying things you wished they didn't… So I just let them haha… Organic! Stream of Conscious!!

My characters show up in my dreams sometimes. Heh.

Honestly, the “life of their own” for me is basically a manifestation of attempting to force a story. Occasionally, rather than succumbing to writer's block, I will force a plot forward non-organically, which might have a character acting or saying things they naturally would not or come up with a lame excuse to include or leave someone out of a scene. I consider those placeholder scenes until my mind can work it out. And “working it out” is sometimes hearing a character say, “I wouldn't do that.” A deeply developed character can become your own personal muse.

I think it happens more with a long-running serial than a concise story. My experience writing serials has shown me an interesting turning of tides. At first, the requirements of the story will help develop the nuances of the character, but each time a nuance is established, it becomes canon, and eventually, the character has more influence over his own actions and can no longer be dictated by the needs of the story.



Unless you are one of the writers for the TV series Bones. In which case, you make up entirely new character traits every episode however you please regardless of whether it contradicts something established in another episode. (Sorry, that show has the worst written characters in all of TVdom.)
bravo1102 at 2:22AM, Aug. 25, 2017
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If when you've created a character you can just close your eyes and hear their voice speak the dialogue as you write, you've done something right. If you look at a character as an empty suit, that is precisely what you have. A lifeless mannikin.

If done right a character should be more than the sum of her parts.

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