This article will be of interest to anyone considering hiring a character design illustrator, or becoming one themselves. Regardless of which path you are on, identifying the traits of a great character design illustrator will be of great interest to you. First we must really look at the purpose behind a character design illustrator, and then analyze what it would take to be, or identify a great one. After all, if you going to hire a someone, you want to be able to assure yourself that they can do the job.
A character designer is not just a friend that draws nice pictures you hope to utilize for a website or other purpose. The have-a-go heroes of the graphics world are fine for the fridge, but when a company needs to have a logo or mascot created, it is important that their company is properly represented.
There are many steps involved in creating a character that is usable in the real world, and these include: Discovery, sketch, color and of course delivery.
A great character design illustrators first and most important trait, is of course understanding the requirements of the customer. Lets say the customer is looking for a mascot for a kid orientated learning website. They write to the illustrator but just ask for a mascot that looks like a lion, wearing a teeshirt with their company name on it.
A good character design illustrator will tell them this isn’t enough information, and would ask what the purpose of the character is. On discovering it is to be used for a kids website, they would make the lion look friendly, or at least not scary. You see the reason you need to be working with professionals when your company is on the line? Its because otherwise you end up with a mascot or character that ill fits the purpose, and may be unusable.
As we have stated the first step is important, and if the illustrator doesn’t bother to ask the company exactly what they are looking for, and why, they probably will do a poor job.
Following this should come a further stage of negotiation with the customer, namely the sketch phase. After the character design illustrator believes they have a good idea of what the customer wants, they should send sketched for confirmation. This illuminates confusion down the line, and if the illustrator doesn’t do this it creates the possibility of the customer later getting an unusable product.
Even after the sketch has been confirmed or altered to the customers satisfaction, there still lies the further issue of color. The customer will need to be able to determine the color, and if it doesn’t look like they imagined, have it altered. The reason for this is simple. A customer doesn’t necessarily know what color will look best until they see it, and a character design illustrator should know that from the start.
The method of delivery is another factor, but this will obviously depend on the customers requirements. However I suggest that if you are hiring a professional, make sure they plan to deliver upon completion, in a manner suitable to your needs.
The main thing that separates an average Joe from a great character design illustrator, is that they work with a customer, as apposed to working “at” them. If you are looking into hiring a character design illustrator I highly recommend you assure yourself they are a team player, and not a fly by night optimist. By the same token, I also recommend any kids thinking of getting into this line of work to realize, it isn’t just about drawing a picture. It is about working with customers to achieve their ends and needs with beautiful and relevant art.