"Do you have any advice on redesigning characters? I have an old one I want to polish up and I'm not sure how to go about it." -Willa
While I don’t have a lot of experience redesigning characters visually, I have a bit more experience with reworking characters that I’ve created in pieces of writing. After thinking about your question a little, I think that both crafts tend to come down to the same core pieces, so hopefully my advice will help you out whether you’re looking to work on visual art or writing! I’ve narrowed my advice down to three main points, so I’ll list those and elaborate on each one.
1. Consider why you want to redesign your character
What is the purpose of making some changes? Maybe your character no longer fits in with the world/art style around them, maybe the story has changed in some way that warrants the character to do the same, or maybe you’re feeling stuck with the art/writing you’ve been creating, but you want to hold onto a character that you particularly like. If you define exactly why you want to redesign your character, it’ll be a lot easier to make sure that you do so effectively!
2. Make a list!
Some people find that planning out art/writing ahead of time restricts them and their creative process, while other find that it makes them more productive! Personally, I find that a mix of the two approaches works best for me. If you want to try to plan out your redesign before you get started, it might be helpful to make a couple of lists! If I were to do a major redesign of a character, visual or written, I’d probably start by writing down characteristics that I’d like to keep. For example: Scar on face, nervous pacing, and lopsided haircut. Then, I’d do the same thing for characteristics that I want to change: Taller, tendency to stutter, wears hair half up-half down. This could help to make sure that you don’t feeling overwhelmed when facing a blank piece of paper/screen!
3. Consider what makes your character an individual
It has been a fear of mine in the past that I’ll alter a character to the point that they’re unrecognizable. One way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to look at your lists, and decide which parts are the most important to your character being an individual. If they have a scar on their face, try not to change it up too much, and if they are generally really skilled in public speaking and have always enjoyed it, maybe don’t add a stutter. If you want to visually redesign a character’s face, look at their current face and use a similar process. Is their long nose the most important part of their face, or is it their big doe eyes? Keeping these characteristics in mind will make it a lot more likely that you’ll have a successful, recognizable character at the end!
I hope that these tips were helpful to anyone who read through them! Write a comment if you have experience redesigning characters, and if you have any tips or advice for doing so. Thanks for reading!