Character Design: A Guide to Designing Characters

Designing characters is a critical step in your process, whether you're putting together an anime character or comic character for your latest drawing or designing a stunning character who will help carry your marketing materials to the next level. There's just one question: how do you get started?

Character Design Ideas

Character designs come in a variety of formats. You may want to design a character from a specific genre--and the genre may have a considerable impact on the type of character you want to design.

Character Genres

Your character's genre may influence the colors you use, the style of your design, and many of the elements of your character. Is your character from:

  • Science fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Comic style
  • A graphic novel
  • Horror

Take your audience into consideration. If you're designing a character from a romance, for example, your audience may expect softer lines and lighter colors. A science-fiction character, on the other hand, may have sharper lines or use more gray, blue, and black. 

Need to Download CorelDRAW?

Download a Free 15-Day Trial Now!

Character Styles

Your character should fit the style of the rest of your content. You don't want a character to stand out as dramatically different from the others in your work--unless, of course, that's the entire point of your character. As you develop your character's style, consider factors like:

  • What colors represent your character?
  • How realistic is your character's design? Some artists prefer highly realistic techniques and lines, for example, while others may prefer more abstract references.
  • What specific style do you want to use for your drawings? Are you considering chibi style? Cartoon style--either old or modern? Each one has its own unique elements.

Male Character Design

As you're considering how to design your own character, it's important to keep your character's gender in mind. A male character, for example, will have several clear elements:

  • Straight lines
  • Strong features, especially a stronger jawline
  • A largemouth and thick neck
  • Visible muscles, depending on the strength of your individual character
  • Broad shoulders

Male characters, like males in the real world, are not necessarily all the same. There are, however, some traits that make them notably masculine. Using straight lines and a strong design to put together your male characters will make it easier to portray your character as uniquely male.

Female Character Design

Female characters, in general, tend to have softer features. When designing a female character, you'll place the emphasis on the waist: female characters naturally have more narrow waistlines and more curves than their male counterparts. The waistline tends to draw the eye and the attention of the viewer. You may want to emphasize your female character's waistline in an effort to set her apart or put the emphasis on her curves in general. Female characters often have:

  • Smaller features, including the nose and mouth
  • Larger eyes
  • Long eyelashes
  • Thin necks
  • A more oval facial shape

When drawing women, you may need to pay more attention to unique body proportions. Women come in a variety of shapes, and their weight can influence their overall appearance. In general, however, women have softer lines to their bodies than males.


Regardless of whether you're designing a male character or a female character, pay attention to who your character is and what that character does. In many cases, you will find that your character's actions and interests inform a number of factors about their physical appearance and help make it easier for you to determine some of those key design features. If you're wondering how to make your character design a reality, check out CorelDRAW today to learn more about how to design, draw, and save your character ideas.

Need to Download CorelDRAW?

Download a Free 15-Day Trial Now!