Unleashing Imagination: The Art of Original Character Design

Unleashing Imagination The Art of Original Character Design


In the grand tapestry of storytelling and art, original characters (OCs) serve as the vibrant threads that add depth, color, and personal touch to the canvas of our imaginations. These unique creations are more than just figments of fancy; they are the heartbeats of narrative worlds, the avatars of our innermost thoughts, and the champions of our untold stories. Whether you’re a budding artist sketching in a notepad or a digital illustrator creating worlds with a stylus, OCs offer a delightful playground for creativity and self-expression. They become a bridge between the creator and the audience, inviting everyone to explore new realms of possibility. Let’s embark on a journey to discover how you can craft your very own original characters, infusing your art with the essence of your individuality and flair.

Section 1: The Basics of OC Creation

The Basics of OC Creation
Photo credit GraphicMama

Defining an Original Character

An Original Character, or OC, is a creation born entirely from the artist’s imagination, not tied to any pre-existing works or media. This distinguishes an OC from fan art characters, which are the artist’s renditions or interpretations of characters created by someone else. While fan art is a tribute to beloved characters and worlds, OCs are novel and uncharted territories that reflect an artist’s personal vision. They offer a canvas for unrestricted creativity—a place where an artist’s muse can roam free without the constraints of pre-defined narratives or character arcs.

Importance of Originality

Originality is the cornerstone of OC creation. It is what sets your character apart in the bustling multiverse of creations. In an age where recycled ideas often find more ground, a truly original character can be a breath of fresh air, encouraging diversity and innovation in artistic communities. Originality isn’t just about being different; it’s about being true to your vision, about bringing forth a character that resonates with authenticity and personal significance. It’s this trait that can enable your OC to form real connections with audiences, as they see not a trope or stereotype, but a distinct personality emerge from your art.

Section 2: Inspiration Sources for OCs

Inspiration Sources for OCs
Photo credit Reddit

As we delve into the realms of inspiration, remember that the world around us is a kaleidoscope of ideas waiting to be tapped into. Let’s explore some sources that can spark the conception of an original character.

 Mythology and Folklore

Mythology and folklore are treasure troves of inspiration for OCs. Here’s how various cultures can breathe life into your character design:

  • Greek Mythology: Draw upon the pantheon of gods, heroes, and mythical creatures like centaurs and nymphs to create characters with epic backgrounds and divine traits.
  • Norse Lore: The rugged warriors, powerful gods, and mystical beings of the North can inspire formidable characters with a touch of ancient magic and valor.
  • Japanese Folklore: Tap into a rich cultural tapestry with spirits like yokai and kami, bringing a blend of the ethereal and the earthly to your OC’s story.
  • Celtic Tales: Enchant your OC with the mystique of druids, the otherworldliness of fae folk, and the heroism of Celtic warriors.

Each myth and folktale comes with its own set of symbols, themes, and character archetypes, providing a robust framework for your OC’s identity.

 Nature and Environment

The natural world is an artist’s ally, offering a vast palette of characteristics to imbue into an OC:

  • Landscapes: Whether your OC hails from arid deserts, lush jungles, or icy tundras, their home environment can shape their survival skills, attire, and lifestyle.
  • Animals: Animalistic traits can define your OC’s physical appearance or demeanor. Perhaps they possess the grace of a deer, the ferocity of a bear, or the cunning of a fox.
  • Elements: Fire, water, earth, and air can influence your character’s abilities or temperament. An OC might be as temperamental as a storm or as grounded as the stone.

Nature and environment are not just backdrops but active elements in crafting your OC’s world and shaping their role within it.

Section 3: Developing the Character

Now that we’ve gathered inspiration, it’s time to breathe life into our characters, fleshing out their personalities and physical attributes.

 Personality Traits

Personality is the essence of your OC’s being. Below is a table that might help you envision a balanced character with strengths and flaws:

Positive Traits Negative Traits
Courageous Impulsive
Empathetic Overly Sensitive
Inventive Eccentric
Diligent Workaholic
Charismatic Manipulative

Selecting traits from both columns can help you create a three-dimensional character that is believable and relatable.

 Physical Characteristics

Deciding on the physical traits of your OC can be just as fun as shaping their personality. Here’s a guide to help you through the process:

  1. Consider Proportions: Start with basic shapes and proportions that reflect your character’s nature and age.
  2. Choose a Color Scheme: Colors can convey emotions and hint at your character’s backstory. A character with a pastel palette might have a different story than one draped in dark, rich tones.
  3. Facial Features: Decide on the features that will make your character stand out. Do they have an unusual eye color or a memorable smile?
  4. Distinctive Markings: Scars, tattoos, or birthmarks can add depth and hint at a character’s history.
  5. Apparel: Clothes make the man, as they say. Dress your OC in outfits that speak of their world, status, and personal taste.

Section 4: Challenges and Exercises

To truly hone your skills and solidify your OC’s place in the world, engaging in challenges and exercises can be both fun and rewarding. Let’s look at some ways to push your creative boundaries.

 The 7-Day OC Challenge

The 7-Day OC Challenge is an exhilarating way to expand your creative portfolio and experiment with different aspects of character creation. Here’s how it works:

  • Day 1: Backstory – Develop and write a detailed past for your OC.
  • Day 2: Emotions – Draw your OC expressing a range of emotions.
  • Day 3: Environment – Illustrate the world your OC lives in.
  • Day 4: Side Characters – Create friends or foes to accompany your OC.
  • Day 5: Action Scene – Sketch your OC in the midst of action.
  • Day 6: Future Glimpse – Imagine where your OC might be years down the line.
  • Day 7: Viewer’s Choice – Let your audience suggest a scenario to draw your OC in.

Completing this challenge not only gives you a week’s worth of content but also a deeper understanding of your OC’s universe.

Community Interaction

Community engagement is a valuable part of the OC development process. Sharing your OCs online can offer insights that you might not have considered and feedback that can be pivotal in refining your concepts. Platforms like DeviantArt, Instagram, and ArtStation are not just showcases but forums for interaction. Take part in community challenges, respond to comments, and participate in collaborative projects. Remember, each interaction is an opportunity to grow both your character and your audience.

Section 5: Tools and Resources

Creating OCs in the digital age has never been more accessible with a variety of tools at your disposal. Below are some that can facilitate your artistic journey.

 Digital Art Software

  • Adobe Photoshop: A powerhouse for artists with a plethora of brushes and tools for detailed work.
  • Procreate: Ideal for iPad users, offering an intuitive interface and robust features for artists on the go.
  • Clip Studio Paint: Popular among manga and comic artists for its specialized features.
  • Krita: A free, open-source option that’s great for beginners and professionals alike.

 Online Tutorials and Classes

  • Skillshare: Offers courses on character design and digital painting from industry professionals.
  • Udemy: Features a wide range of drawing courses, including character creation and animation.
  • YouTube: Free tutorials from artists around the world that cover all aspects of drawing and design.

Continuous learning is essential in the ever-evolving field of art, so take advantage of these resources to keep your skills sharp.


We’ve explored the vast landscape of creating original characters, from the seeds of inspiration to the final touches of expression. OCs are more than just drawings; they are manifestations of your inner storyteller, the silent symphonies of your artistic soul given form and color. Remember that every stroke of your pen or brush is a step on your journey as an artist.

Check out the rest of the ‘Updated Ideas‘ site; there are some cool articles waiting for you! Fancy writing for us? Just give that contact button in the top right a tap. Cheers!

Unleashing Imagination: The Art of Original Character Design
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