The Character’s Movement

Here are some things to consider as far as how the character moves:

  • What is the character’s method of motion? Does the character fly, swim, crawl, burrow, walk upright or on all fours, squirm, or hop? Is it jet propelled like an octopus, or does it travel around on wheels?
  • How does your character move when in motion?
  • When the character begins to move, which body part moves first, and which moves last?
  • How does the character carry its weight when in motion, and how does the character stand?
  • How does the character move when idle or when nervous? What about when angry or frightened?
  • Is there a particular stance or pose that defines the character’s attitude about life?

Other Considerations

If you answer the questions posed throughout this chapter, you will have a pretty concrete idea of what your character looks like. Here are a few miscellaneous but important things to keep in mind when designing a character:

Using stereotypes: To add a degree of familiarity to your character, you can carefully use stereotypes when appropriate and not offensive. After all, we do typically associate certain characteristics with different character types.

Barbarians, for example, are not generally skinny 98-pound weaklings.

Fooling the audience:  Don’t try to do this. Make bad guys look like bad guys. Make the monsters threatening, for example. The audience expects a certain personality for different looks. Do not stray too far from the expected, or you will confuse the audience.

Being sensitive: Always remember to be sensitive and careful when you are dealing with and using cultural and symbolic elements in your creations.

Providing scale: Remember to give a clue as to the scale of your character. If you create a giant, you must place something near him to give a sense of scale. Without anything to identify the scale of a character, the audience will have no idea of its size. The same character could be perceived as a giant or a midget depending on how you outfit your character and its surroundings.

Connecting the character to reality: Make sure there is some connection to reality. Your character needs to have a point of reference. If you create something that is unrecognizable, your audience will not relate to the character.

It is no accident that most monsters walk and act generally like we do.

We recognize the look of creatures that resemble ourselves and have expectations for how a character will generally behave.

Being original: Try to balance between using kitsch and being totally original. Kitsch is something that appeals to popular or lowbrow taste and is often of poor quality. Use kitsch items sparingly when designing your character.

Kitsch can add a subtle sense of humor, but if it’s overdone, it will look silly. Unless you have a good reason, generally try to avoid fads. They will date the character immediately. Not much is truly original anymore, but do make it a point not to blatantly copy another’s works and ideas.

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