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Ideas for Designing Your Character


by _the_spardel_queen_

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Throughout my 13 years of playing this site, I found designing characters, writing stories, and drawing designs for my pets has been the most addicting part and something that gives me a lot of joy. While on the boards, I do see a lot of people struggle with how to go about doing this for their own pets. Writers and art blocks can be very real! Well here are my top 5 ideas on make your pet the character you've had envisioned in your head for so long.

(Keep in mind, everyone has their own way and everyone does the steps in different orders. I personally, actually create customizations for my pets first. Then work off of that and develop the rest. But it's all about what gets your creative juices flowing!)

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1. Make realistic goals for yourself.

We all start out with big grand plans with what we want to do with our pets, especially when applying for pets to adopt, but don't overwhelm yourself and make it seems like a daunting task!

Make a list on a progress page, it feels good to strike through some of those completed tasks! If your pet is a strong character, maybe considering training him and getting his stats up? If your pet likes to read, why not see about getting them a trophy? Those kinds of things reinforce your character you've created.

2. Create a back story and personality for your pet.

For example, my pet Da_Super_Man is a grey Aisha. Naturally, he is very unemotional and can't convey a lot of feelings. Why? Because in his back story, you learn he came face to face with his rival and was zapped grey, and his rival stole all of his emotions and he has learned to live without them.

Knowing the personality of your pet and envisioning how he or she would react in situations adds depth to your story and makes it more dimensional in dialogue. I like to draw a character map, and while looking at my pet, writing down all of the behaviors that come to mind. My desert Aisha I always envisioned as more of a trickster who likes to play pranks on people, but my faerie is more of a kind and gentle creature. These traits definitely are saturated in their stories, how their artwork came out, and ultimately who I envision them as.

3. Create a unique design for your pet and draw it.

Easier said than done, right? For some people this is the easiest part. This part I work on when I just feel like doodling and I feel extra creative and artistic. I usually have a decent idea of their story by then, so their drawing will be based around that.

Sometimes I need a little inspiration. I love reading about the characters created by Neopets. The Gallery of Evil always has some good short stories and character work! Especially when entering into contests like the Neopian Times or Storytelling, integrating some of the original Neopets helps the audience identify with those pre-established characters and helps you tell the story.

As mentioned before, I get my inspiration by playing with customizations. I will preview a bunch of backgrounds and see if anything catches my eye, the Kreludan Scenery Background inspired me to create my plushies Aisha design around going to space for example! Then I will play with trinkets, clothing, accessories, etc. I also look at other people's customizations and draw inspiration from item pairings they have used.

But not everyone draws their designs based off customizations, I'd say a good majority actually probably don't. Customization comes later for a lot of people I see. When I asked those people how they came up with their designs, the responses I got were:

    -Already had the design/storyline in mind

    -I doodled and came up with the design

    -I was inspired by something else (game, story, movie, etc.)

Keep in mind, there are different ways to design your character! The most commonly referred to is a 'quad' or 'anthro' design.

Quad refers to a characters design that is more animal or Neopet like, it might be shown on all four feet as opposed to two legs. It might have paws, whiskeys, pointy ears, a tail, etc.

Anthro designs look more human. They might have fingers and toes instead of paws. They might have human ears and human facial features.

Some people combine the two, some of my Aishas for example walk on two feet instead of four like most Aishas do. But, they still have the Aisha ears and tails. It's usually a matter of preference for people, some people are better at drawing one or the other. It helps when you have a good understanding of the anatomy of what your drawing. I found studying how muscles move and work helped a lot in my characters, and referencing cat poses helped with my darigan Aisha who is quad.

4. Writing your story.

I like to plan out my stories as best I can and outline my chapters and paragraphs, filling in what happens and where, before typing. I start with my grand idea, "spaceship hero" for my plushie Aisha. Then break down into the backstory, and why he always wanted to fly in space. Then I create the plot and the obstacle, he can't go to space because only alien Aishas are allowed to go. Then the resolution, he tricked them and disguised himself as an alien. And the conclusion! He was discovered, but was forgiven and became very successful in his line of work.

But some people are amazing at just going for it and typing their story as they create it in their minds!

Whatever it is, have fun with writing your characters story. Try to keep it unique and interesting, I've fallen in the trap where I just wanted all my characters to be princesses and other cliche characters. But people can only read the story of a princess and a frog transforming into a prince so many times! They want to read something new that will entice and captivate them. Sometimes it's fun to re-write old classics though, so I'm not saying rule that out by any means. Just get some creative juices going! Especially when trying to enter into Neopet competitions, I'm sure the judges see some receptiveness here and there.

Don't forget to integrate any extra characters, like your characters friends, sidekicks, his or her petpet, etc. You should consider extra characters personalities and backstories too. How do they influence your character?

5. Putting it all together.

I like to display all of the work I have done for my character developments, I use my pets lookups and pet pages. I display the artwork, design, story, customization, petpets, and extra notes to show the world who my pet is and why he/she is the way she is.

Keep in mind your goals and other ways you can improve your pet. Other ideas include increasing fishing level, BD stats, beauty contest trophies, pet/petpet spotlight trophies, book and food awards, etc.

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At the end of the day, it's all about what is fun for you and what gives you the most joy. Character design isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for us left-hemisphere-brained individuals, it's a way to express creativity.

I hope this article has helped and inspired you to work on your own designs for your characters! Please feel free to neomail me with any questions or comments relating to my article. :)

 
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