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Creating Your Own Characters Through Illustration

Happy February, Muse Kit friends!

The month of love is here, and, as usual, this month’s box will focus on something we love: illustration.

Starting as babies, all of us have been brought up with illustrations through the books we were read, toys we played with, and TV shows we watched. But illustration doesn’t need to be reserved for professionals; you can learn to do it too!

In this month’s box, we’ve given you a whole host of supplies like markers, fine liners, and pencils that you can use to create your own beautiful illustrations. When it comes to subjects, the world is your oyster, so you can really illustrate everything you want.

However, if you have tried a few simple objects and want to take your new-found love of illustration to the next level, you might want to create your own original character. This is a great way to flex your creative muscles and design something entirely from scratch that is wholly your own.

Here we are going to guide you through a few steps to start creating your own character that is totally unique to you and allows you to flex your creative muscles.

So, grab your supplies, put your thinking caps on, and let’s learn how to create your own characters through illustration.

What is an Original Character?

Before we figure out how to create one, we must ask ourselves, what exactly is an original character?

An original character, or OC as they call it in artist circles, is a character that is entirely new and not based on any existing characters in others’ work. These characters may be inserted into an existing world in the case of fandom artwork, but they stand completely on their own and are not included in the original text or show.

Illustrators of all levels spend years crafting their own original characters by developing their personalities, style, and body language on paper. They will also work on specific details like facial expressions and even how they speak if the character is accompanied by text or animation.

This may sound intimidating, but creating your own original character is a gratifying process that helps you take your illustration to a whole new level.

So, now that we know what we’re talking about, we can explore how to start creating your original character.

There are so many ways that you can go about making an original character, and it can be adapted to your and what you love. 

We know it can seem overwhelming to start from scratch and create something totally new, but we are here to guide you and give you a few pieces of inspiration to get your going on your illustration journey.

beginning a character design - tips on how to create an OC

Finding Faces

One of the easiest ways to create a new character is through personification. 

Personification means to assign human or personal attributes to an inanimate object. A perfect example of this is the Beast’s castle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, where all the furniture, crockery, and cutlery have come to life. Lumiere is a character purely created by adding a face and suave French persona to a simple candlestick. Yet, he has so much impact on the story and entertainment factor in the movie.

Start paying attention to objects in your house and see if you can find a face. Does your coffee cup have a frown? Does your car look like an angry beast? Is the shadow from your lamp imitating a slim woman wearing a large hat?

Once you start looking, you’ll see faces everywhere!

When this happens, grab your sketchbook and do a quick observational sketch with no pressure on yourself to create a finished piece. Just acknowledge it, document it, and save these inspirations for later when you have time to expand on them.

What Can You Make Out of Polymer Clay?

Or rather, what can’t you make out of polymer clay?

This easy-to-use medium really allows you to create whatever your imagination can come up with. This aspect also transcends all age ranges, so you, as an adult, can use polymer clay, but your young children can also participate just as easily. If you have kids, why not make polymer clay a fun weekend activity that you can bond over while you nurture their budding creativity?

From jewelry and sculptures to ornaments and home decor, the polymer clay world is your oyster! There are even polymer clay artworks being exhibited in major art museums as e speak! If you are looking for a bit of guidance, there are many tutorials online for step-by-step projects to get you started before you dive into coming up with your own creations.

One area that polymer clay is not suitable for is food items. Although it may seem tempting to try to craft a mug or bowl from polymer clay, we don’t recommend it as the material is not food safe and may lead to adverse effects on your health as well as deterioration of the items.

Here are a few uses for the wondrous polymer clay:

Look in the Mirror

Many artists use themselves as the inspiration for a new character.

Not only is the reference material always with you, but it also gives you the opportunity to insert yourself into a cool narrative and give yourself qualities you wish you had.

Have you always fantasized about being an elegant elf? You can make it happen. Are you having problems with your self-esteem and confidence? You can draw yourself as the powerful, confident person you want to be and maybe even inspire yourself in your everyday life. You can even use this as an opportunity to insert yourself into an existing world that you love.

Practice stylizing your features and nailing down your body shape, and then start to experiment. Making faces in a mirror and drawing them is a great way to get better at expressions and get to know your own face better.

looking in a mirror to study expression for character drawing

Use What You Love

In our brochure, we showed you an example of a personified flower character, and this is the perfect example of using things you love as inspiration for your characters. It's as simple as taking something beautiful, like a flower, and finding a way to add a face and breathe some life into it.

Try scrolling your Pinterest or tags you follow on social media to jog your memory and give you an idea of objects and creatures you gravitate towards. You can also look around your own home and pick some objects that mean something to you that you could turn into a character.

For example, if you love mushrooms and toadstools, then this is an excellent starting point for a character. You could look up various types of mushrooms and assign a personality to each one with a face that fits with the physicality of that particular mushroom.

Using one item as a base to form many characters will help you create a group of characters that go together and interact with one another in a very aesthetically pleasing way.

character design of a grumpy flower for valentines day

How to Use Your Illustrated Characters

Now, you may be happy to keep your new characters reserved for your sketchbook, but if you want to take it a step further, there are a few ways you can do this.

Digitize It

We’re all about hands-on art here at Muse Kits, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know the value of digital art.

Moving your original character into a digital form will allow you to craft your character in a new way. It will also be easier to keep your tones and color palettes consistent. This is a tricky art form to nail, but it's the way that many artists use to transform and work on their new characters. If you have the skills, you could even take it a step further and fully animate your character.

Graphic Novel

Static characters are all well and good, but having them move around, emote and express themselves through words will allow you to get deeper into that character and their personality. It also allows multiple original characters to interact with one another and develop relationships.

A graphic novel or little comic strips are a great way to do this. Characters can be placed together in various scenarios with speech bubbles and a variety of facial expressions to really get their emotions across.

This can be a whole book or just a simple page of panels in your sketchbook, but it will help bring life into your character and help you develop them over time if you continue a narrative.

creating home decor out of polymer clay using muse kits art subscription

After looking at the myriad of ways you can find inspiration, we’re sure you are itching to open your sketchbook and get designing. We can’t wait to see the incredible original characters you all come up with using this month’s supplies.

join muse kits for fine art supplies and mystery art kit subscriptions

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