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May 17, 2011
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Creating Characters – Appearance
Here are a few tips to create the body of your new character. Appearance defines your character almost as much as personality. I hope something will be useful to you.

Body Shape
Is your character muscular? Tall and thin? Short and round? I think about body shape as basically height and weight. There are three basic body types that are also useful to know:

1) Ectomorph – This is a delicate build. Pretty much tall and thin, there are more angles on these bodies than curves. Limbs and neck are also long and shoulders tend to be small. They often have a flat chest. Ectomorphs tend to have fast metabolisms.

2) Mesomorph – A more athletic build. This type is more muscular. They have broad shoulders, a narrow waist and wide hips. This build gives women an hourglass type shape, with more curves than angles. Mesomorphs gain muscle easily.

3) Endomorph – A rounder build. The abdominal area is more dominant with a high waist and no prominent bones. Arms and legs are also shorter. Endomorphs have a slow metabolism and tend to gain muscle and fat very easily.

Of course, you can mix and match these three basic body types. For example, you could have a mesomorphic ectomorph which is a thin and delicate build with a bit more muscle than a regular ectomorph. (One thing though, if you swap those two, you'll get a muscular person who is just less heavily built.) It's more common to be a mix between these types than to just have a single basic shape.

Face Shape
There are many different shapes for faces. The shape of a face depends on the shape of the jaw, roundness of the cheeks and sometimes the shape of the hairline. Four common shapes are:

1) Triangular – A face which is narrowest at the bottom with a pointed chin. Widens at the forehead with a straight hairline (a heart shaped face is the same, but with a hairline like the top of a heart instead.)

2) Round – The face width and length are both equal with a round jaw and hairline.

3) Square – The height and width of the face are both equal with a squared jaw and straight hairline.

4) Oval – The face is widest in the middle with a narrow jaw.

Colours for skin range from extremely pale to very dark. If it's a fantasy creature, then it could have a completely different colour – like green or blue. Of course, no one is going to have completely clear skin. People with pale skin are more likely to get freckles which appear on parts of the body which are exposed to sunlight most often, usually the face and arms. There are also the dreaded pimples and blackheads, which are common during teenage years because of hormones. There are also birthmarks (but more on that later).

Next there is the matter of fur; if your character is more beast-like than human then they could have fur instead of skin. There are many types of fur – long, short, wool, etc. There are also different patterns – spots, stripes, splodges, plain, etc. Fur is usually seen in different shades of browns, greys and also black and white.

Feathers and scales are found in more vivid colours than skin and fur. Parrots have bright red, green and blue feathers a lot of the time. Scales are also bright, tropical fish for example; they can be yellow and purple.

If you are going to have realistic characters, ones who are human in the real world, then eye colour is not going to be very impressive. Blue, grey, green, hazel and brown are extremely common colours in the real world. Violet is extremely rare, but it does exist. Red is seen when there is no pigment in the eye – in severe cases of albinism under the right conditions (such as a camera flash). Fantasy is different; there can be more fantastic colours. It's not the real world so the colours don't need to be realistic.

Pupils aren't circular in all animals either. There are also vertical pupils, the types seen in reptiles and felines. Vertical pupils are good at adapting to the amount of light in a room. There is also a third type of pupil, square pupils, which appear in octopi and squid.

Eye shapes can also be different. They can be almond shaped, round, have droopy eyelids or be deep set.

Is your character going to be bald or have hair as long as Rapunzel's? Keep in mind that having really long hair may hinder them in the job you plan to give them. For example, a ninja fighting another ninja would get into trouble if the other one managed to grab their long, flowing hair and kill them.

Hair can be completely straight, slightly or very wavy, have slight curls or ringlets/corkscrews (tight curls), and it can be so frizzy that it turns into an afro. Straight and wavy hair tends to be shinier than curls or frizz. Also, is their hair thick or fine? Smooth or coarse? If your story is in a modern setting, then straighteners and curling wands exist, if it is historical (before the 1900's) however, they don't.

What colour is their hair? Humans can have blonde, brown, red, black and grey hair. Dyes exist in today's society, and a dark haired person can become blonde by using bleach. However, before these modern dyes existed it wouldn't have been possible to turn your hair green. Plants like henna did exist however and could be used as a hair dye. Fantasy is a little more open, so you probably could have a character with green hair.

Another thing to think about is hair styles. Does your character put their hair up in a ponytail? A braid? Do they leave it down? There are many, many different styles of hair to look at, but a person with short hair probably won't be able to do as much as someone with long hair.

Note: Guys can have long hair, just as girls can have short hair.

(A nice short section)

Does your character have a large or small nose? What size are the nostrils? Does the end turn up or point downwards? Is it more animal-like than human? Do they even have a nose or does it just have nostril slits?

If your character is a human, then their ears aren't going to be anything special. But, are they big or small ears? How much of an earlobe do they have?

Now, if your character isn't human, they can have different types of ears. An elf usually has pointed ears which are fairly large. Ears don't even have to be humanoid; they can be dog ears, cat ears, rabbit ears, etc. They could even be holes in the side of your character's head, like a reptile. The ears don't even need to be external; they could have another way of hearing.

Lips have many different shapes. They can be narrow, have a Cupid's bow shape, and they can be thick. In pale people, lips are usually pink to red in colour. In people with darker skin, they could be about the same shade or a bit darker than the skin. How big is their mouth? Is it really wide or is it quite small. A wider mouth would usually signify a loud character while a small mouth could mean that your character is shy.

Teeth. A human has omnivorous teeth; we have teeth to rip and tear and also teeth to grind up our food. Maybe they have teeth like a cat, carnivorous teeth, teeth that are sharp fangs used to kill, hold and tear at their prey. Herbivorous teeth are found on anything that eats only plant material. They are flat and are used to grind up their food. Maybe your character doesn't even have teeth, they could have a beak or they could have baleen (the filter-like teeth that most whales have). Their race's diet will decide what teeth they are most likely to have.

The tongue. Humans have round tongues. Reptiles have forked tongues. Tongues can also be pointed or tubular. Animals like cats have rasp-like tongues that they use to clean themselves.

Hands and Feet
Does your character have nails like a human? They probably won't if you plan on having a carnivorous character, they'll have claws so they can grip onto and rip into their prey, and they'll also be a weapon to fight with. Claws can be retractable (like a cat) or non-retractable. Your character could have hooves like a deer or a horse. Hooves are made to support weight and could be used to replace feet.

Also, do they have plantigrade or digitigrade feet? Digitigrade means that they will walk on their toes. Plantigrade means that they walk on their toes and heels. Humans have plantigrade feet, whereas the back feet of cats are more digitigrade. The type of foot will change leg shape.

Some Other Minor Details
Your character could have a tail. It could be long and whip-like, or bushy. It could be a dragon tail with an arrowhead on the end of it. It could be a puffy rabbit tail. Maybe the tail completely replaces the legs, like a mermaid.

Does your character have wings? They could be bird wings with brightly coloured feathers. They could be scaly dragon wings, or furry bat wings. They could even have insect wings. Wings could replace arms or become a part of them, just like a bat. They should be a realistic size if you want your character to fly. Perhaps they've lost their ability to fly and their wings aren't what they used to be, then they could have short, stubby wings like a kiwi or emu.

Horns, antlers and antennae. If you have based your character on a deer or something similar, they are likely to have antlers. In reality, only male deer have antlers and they are used to fight other males over territory or a mate, they can fall off and regrow. They could be like horns commonly found in sheep, the ones that curl around. They could even be straight horns which are found on goats. If you have made a race of insect people, then they could have antennae which are sensitive to vibrations and smell.

Does your character have birthmarks or tattoos? What about scars? If they have a birthmark, where is it and what does it look like? Usually it's just a splodge of darker coloured skin on your body and over time it will disappear. Birthmarks are not uncommon, but it could make your character self-conscious if it's on their face. Tattoos are a good way to set your character apart, but think about their age. In places like Australia, it's illegal to get tattoos until you are eighteen. In a fantasy world, it might be a different matter, but a child or teenager is unlikely to have a tattoo. Scars are not uncommon, but they'd better be there for a good reason. Maybe your character had an accident involving flames as a child and they have a huge burn scar on their arm.

So, now you should have worked out what your character looks like, but right now, they are still naked. Life and personality still has to be given to them. I hope this helped you with some of the basics.
I hope you like detail because that's what I've done :)

This is the first of (probably) many tutorials on character creation. From the start I've assumed that a sex and name have already been chosen.

I hope this helps, because it certainly helps me.
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Minamotosanada Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Just what I needed to find.  I've been having trouble making bio sheets for the characters I plan to use.
Shade-Arts Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome ^_^ I'm glad you found my stuff helpful~
Sleepstar Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Great work. 
Shade-Arts Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you~
BambooFoxFire Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Student Filmographer

For the thing about eyes and pupils, there's also those strange rectangular horizontal eyes that appear in frogs, horses and sheep and certain species of deer/gazelle/antelope, and even some types of rodents(like gerbils! All of mine  had horizontal-rectangular pupils).

Not sure if you want to include that, but it just made me think of/remember that :)

Shade-Arts Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I've certainly noticed it in some animals, especially goats, definitely not in gerbils, though XD (But then, I've never owned a gerbil or known anyone who has)

It's certainly something I'll think about adding when I finally get around to updating my tutorials :) Thanks!
BambooFoxFire Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Student Filmographer

Yup, gerbils have rectangular pupils(at least mine did) just like goats and horses and the like. They're just really hard to see because they're almost but not quite the same color as their iris', so their eyes look like one solid color unless you look really, really closely. You usually have to have a ruby-eyed gerbil to see it at all, and it's really hard to capture in picture.

And no prob XD

the-penmans-mind Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist

Thank you for writing these I really needed it


Shade-Arts Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're very welcome! I'm glad they help :heart:
the-penmans-mind Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks! Hey could you read my story the orange ribbon and tell me what you think? You don't have to but it would be very appretiated
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