So you want a job in the gaming industry. This is my guide to how to get one as a character designer, and an overview of the job as a whole. I will explain what this highly sought after job has to offer, from pay and amount of work available, to the work involved and where the job falls in the industry ladder (and if there is a possibility for advancement). There is a broad spectrum of work involved in character design, and a few different ways to break into the industry. A look at this job will give a nice overview of what the playing field looks like, and a good detailed look at what it's like to be a character designer and what it takes to get there. First, let’s take a look at what character design is all about from a bird’s eye view. Designing a character is a very involved process, even though many characters you see in video games appear pretty simple. Designing a character entails everything from what your character looks like, their archetype, personality, history, and much more. One main aspect of being a character designer is artistry. A natural talent for art is a big plus when it comes to designing characters. Most people in this field spend a lot of time in drafting and animation classes when they are in school preparing for their job, because the visual aspect is a key part of what will be required of you. The more advanced the degree you get, the more likely you are to be a top designer. There is a range of education available, from single classes that take only weeks to complete, to two or four year video game animation institutions. The second main aspect of character design is writing. Storylines and conversations are the best way to get deep into a character and find out what they are all about. You kind of have to throw the saying "a picture's worth a thousand words" out the window here. It would be best to have a strong background in writing here, and maybe minor in English. Moving on, usually at most video game companies, there is someone at the top as lead character designer, who oversees all the other character designers and keeps the project on track. There are positions with small part time workloads, and large full time work loads out there. What kind of work you get depends on your experience and how useful you've proven to be to the company. It's a field that you can climb the ladder in. You can make around $55,000 a year as a character designer. The job falls around the middle of the game design hierarchy by pay and the total amount of work compared to other jobs.
Why don't we find out what the creative process of character design is all about? The best way to start out is to study existing characters, break them down, and figure out what people like about them, and what characteristics work and which ones don't. There is a huge abundance of characters out there, so it's best to pick ones that fit in the same world as the game, and also ones that have been the most successful. This will give you an optimum stock of different art styles, personalities, and archetypes to work with. Once you have a good amount of material to work with, narrow down what types of characteristics, styles and archetypes you want to use and start designing and planning rough models of what you want your characters to be like. The more sketches and ideas you have, the better, because that will build your characters in great detail, visually and in personality. The depth, range, and detail of your characters really depend on what kind of game you are designing for. For example, if you're making a fighter for the psp, you don't need a whole lot deep back-story or detail, because of the nature of these types of games, and the small screen. What you will need is lots of different personalities and storylines, since fighting games usually host a LOT of different characters. From one extreme to another, role playing games for next gen consoles will require lots of detailed art,...
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