How to Create an Original Character

The ability to create your own worlds- and the original characters in them- is a huge reason that many kids love art! In creating and drawing original characters, kids get to express their personality, exercise their imaginations, and tell their stories. We’ve noticed that a lot of kids in our free online art community are interested in drawing and sharing original characters (OCs). Many young artists also love writing, and these two creative activities go hand-in-hand! But if you’ve never created an original character before, how do you get started? Here are a few key questions you should ask yourself when creating your own, amazing, original characters!

How to Draw an Original Character

1. What world does your character live in (setting)?

To get started with drawing an original character, first ask yourself where (and in what time) your character lives! Does your character exist in our world and time, or is your character from the past, future (or an alternate reality)? You might want to create an OC that would fit into a universe you love, like Star Wars, Marvel or Studio Ghibli.

In drawing and writing, knowing what world and time your character lives in is a great place to start. Establishing the answer to this question can prompt all kinds of other questions about your character’s visual design, such as: clothing, backstory, and what style you’ll use when you start drawing!

2. What is your character’s origin story?

We are all impacted by our beginnings, and your original character’s design will be, too! To make a more interesting and complex original character, ask yourself some important origin questions, such as:

  • What was your character’s childhood like?
  • How many family members do they have?
  • Was their family rich or poor?
  • Did they grow up safe and happy, or were there struggles?
  • What was their family dynamic like?
  • Were they close to one family member? Did they clash with another?

Also think about how these things might affect your character’s main goal or aspiration (another key question coming up soon)!

3. What are some basic facts about your character?

Once you’re starting to get a grasp on your character’s backstory, it’s a good time to figure out some basic information that will impact your original character drawing. Here are a few basic things to establish about your character:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Style
  • Job/Role
  • Basic personality: list a few good qualities as well as some bad ones!
  • Don’t forget to consider quirks! These don’t have to be good or bad, they can just be funny, unique and memorable. The more specific, the better! (Ex: Garfield is a cat is obsessed with lasagna.)
  • You could decide your character’s personality type using the Enneagram or Meyers-Briggs!
  • It may even help to bring in some D & D concepts and decide your character’s basic personality alignment: Chaotic Good, Neutral Good, Lawful Good, Chaotic Neutral, True Neutral, Lawful Neutral, Chaotic Evil, Neutral Evil, and Lawful Evil.
  • Does your character have any special powers or abilities? If so, is this something you could show in your drawing?

Note: I know that many people -especially kids – like to answer these basic questions as the first step in character development.  However, figuring out backstory first can give you more interesting and thoughtful answers!

4.What is your character’s goal/mission?

At this point in the process, you probably have a good grasp on who your original character is (whether you’re drawing them, writing them, or both!) What makes your character more dynamic, adding interest to their story and visual representation, is their mission! Considering your character’s personality and backstory, come up with a goal for your character. Again, specific is best! (Ex: In Wandavision, Wanda’s goal is to protect herself from more grief and trauma by using her telepathic abilities to create a fictional reality. This goal reflects her backstory, her abilities, and her personality.)

Think about how you can show your character’s mission in how they look. How will their goals affect their appearance, dress, and any objects they carry with them? How can you tell their story in a visual way? Make notes because it’s time to start drawing!

5. Now it’s time to draw, experiment, and draw it again!

Now you have a really good mental picture of who your original character is, and it’s time to get visual. Take into account all of the factors you’ve decided about your character, and choose a few specific things that you want to clearly show in your drawing.

Try different poses, hairstyles, clothing, each time considering how each change reflects – or doesn’t reflect- the character you’re trying to create! If you have are a Sparketh student, we have several courses that can help you practice drawing different portrait styles, hair textures, and facial features! Below you’ll find just a few to try out!

Basic Tips for Drawing Different Hair Textures

Hair Textures

Learning Facial Proportions

Facial Proportions

How to Draw a Manga Style Character

Manga Character

As you experiment with drawing some different drafts of your character, you’ll hone in on the poses and expressions that fit them the best! If your character has powers, you may try showing that a few different ways. The best way to find out exactly how you want your OC to look is to draw several different versions!

Whether you are drawing an original character to help you with your writing, or writing about your character to help your drawing, you’ll find that these two creative practices really work well together! In learning how to draw – or write- an original character, it’s important to know who they are, where they come from, and where they are going! We hope that these questions and tips help you get started on creating your own original characters. If you’re a teen or kid artist, we’d also love to see your creations! In addition to online art classes for kids, Sparketh also hosts a totally free community for kids and teens to share their artwork. You can join our free community here! Happy drawing!