How to Develop Your Own Manga Characters

Learn how to develop your own manga characters from art instructor Chris Hart in this Howcast video.

Here are a few tips on developing your own character, an original character.

The first thing is to decide on a costume. Now, there’s a question you should ask yourself. Where is he? Where is your character in the story? Is she in school, where she will use a school uniform? Is she or he in a castle, where it’s kind of vampire-like and Gothic. Or perhaps its feudal Japan, with somebody in a kimono, or somebody who’s a samurai. So, where is the character.

And the next is, when is the character? How back historically do you want to go? Or is it something in the future? Or is it in a total fantasy land, where a magical girl might take place.

Asking yourself these questions, and thinking about them before you start to draw is important for designing your character.

Here’s an original character I did. It’s a schoolgirl in a school uniform. I just thought I’d make her perky, kind of bubbly, and one way I did that was to accentuate her body language, which is another thing to keep in mind.

What I did was, I shifted and tilted the shoulder-hip dynamics. The shoulders go down this way, and the hips go this way. It gives her a crunch here, and a stretch here. And what that does is that it adds energy to a character. Now, if I had to introvert a character, I might draw it straight, or with the shoulders slouching. So, the body language helps the personality.

The last is the expression. Expression is very much a part of developing your own character. As you can see, she is bright-eyed with a wide smile. Some characters can be a lot more subtle. Some will express themselves in an opposing way to how they feel. If they’re in love with a girl, they act shy rather than show love.

You have to decide what type of character you want, and how you’ll express those things. Not only in the face, but in the body language. If someone is introverted, they kind of slink away. If someone’s extroverted, the chest comes forward.

All these different things are subtle things, but they do add up to an original character, and one that communicates personality.