Stories revolve around characters, and in visual storytelling a character’s design is paramount. That design helps us to make certain assumptions about the character’s nature so we can just jump right into the fun of the story. Of course, this is a shortcut way of getting the viewer acquainted with your protagonist, but in a children’s story it can help to draw them into the flow of the adventure.
Seldom do I come up with a character design fully formed. It’s usually a long process of sketching and discarding tons of ideas. This wasn’t the case with Walmond the Wizard from our Little Dragons series. I new how I wanted him to look from the beginning, and he just sort of fell out of my pencil. But these sort of “Kablaam!” moments come because we spend time learning the fundamentals of character design. Let’s take a closer look.
Soft and Squishy
Walmond‘s overall design is round with no hard edges. This immediately gives him a nonthreatening appearance. This is accentuated by his small stature. If a character is designed with proportions that remind us of a baby then we tend to read that character through that same sort of filter.
Again, Walmond’s head is designed in a rather large proportion to his body. This adds to his baby-like appearance. Most of his facial features are replaced with his fluffy eyebrows and cloud like mustache. His large, round nose also adds to his comical appearance.
Since we aren’t able to see his eyes we might assume that he, himself might have trouble seeing. That sort of visual detail can help to give us insight into his nature. In fact, Walmond is quite a good-natured bumbler. He often ends up in situations because he’s unable to see what the consequences of his actions might be. This is a good example of a character’s outer appearance revealing something of their inner nature.
How does Walmond get around on those tiny legs? The fact that those diminutive props have to carry around his over sized body make him seem a little tipsy. He could fall over at any minute, and we’re certain that he can’t run very fast. All of these assumptions lend themselves to our reading him as a funny, non-threatening character.
And there we have Walmond: our cute, bumbling wizard. Just by fallowing a few, simple rules we can create a character design that tells a story.
Let me know what you thought of these tips and if you have anything to add by commenting below.