As a character designer, you will essentially be playing the role of an illustrator, graphic artist and animator all rolled into one. That means you’ll be responsible for thinking about the personality and look of a special character in an animation production or video game. Although animators and game designers typically take care of designing the characters that will form part of an animation or game, there are particular characters that need to be emphasized and given focus on. It is your job as a character designer to make this character noteworthy.
When you are called upon to produce a special character, one of the first things you will do is to inquire what the character’s role is and what he or she is supposed to accomplish in that show or game. You will need to use your creativity in coming up with a story, look and if needed, the powers that this character is going to possess. Once you have all the information you need, you will start to make the preliminary sketches of the character.
Character designers these days usually use computer graphics software and 3D modeling programs to be able to come up with characters that make an impression in the minds of viewers and game players. It is much easier to use software programs these days than rely on old paper and pencil method because putting color and movement to the character becomes a simple matter of manipulating the computer program. However, many characters still rely on traditional art to create their initial concepts.
To become a character modeler, you need to be very artistic. You also need to be imaginative to the point that you can actually bring the characters to life with your art. You must also be able to think outside the box so that every character you make possesses its own unique personality. In order to make characters that are extraordinary, you must also be able to pay attention to detail. Creativity matters a lot in this profession as well since it is the very foundation by which cool and memorable characters is built.
Why Become A Character Designer
One of the most important reasons to become a graphic designer is one’s sheer love and passion for making unique characters. In this highly-specialized field, character designers combine the tasks of a game designer, illustrator and animator into one role in search for that special character that will define the video game or animation production. Character designers are also paid well.
Character Designer Work Environment
Character designers typically work in a studio or office for animation studios, video game companies, motion picture and similar industries. A good number of them are also self-employed. The work is often fulltime although they may have to put in many overtime hours if they are already in the crunch hours of beating a deadline for a project. The work can be stressful and demanding but can be very fulfilling especially after they see the final fruits of their labor.
Character Designer Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have salary data specifically for character designers. It does have the salary information for the broader occupational category of multimedia artists and animators who are paid a mean annual wage of $72,400.
Character Designer Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have the career projections for character designers. It has projected that the employment rate for multimedia artists and animators—an occupation where character designers can be categorized in—is set to grow six percent for the period covering 2012 to 2022. This is slower than the average for all job types. While the demand will come from video game firms and movies, studios often hire animators from outside the United States because of their lower pay requirements. This can dampen demand for U.S.-based animators and illustrators.
Character Designer Degree
Although there are multimedia artists who are hired because of their sheer talent and creativity even if they only hold a high school diploma, a bachelor’s degree in animation, art, graphic design and related fields is what many employers look for when hiring character designers. An undergraduate program in these areas also gives aspiring character designers the opportunity to develop their own portfolios which potential employers ask for in the hiring process. A portfolio will showcase the character designer’s abilities and skills.