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Posts Tagged ‘Character Design’

So one day I was lurking the front page of FA (FurAffinity) when I stumbled upon a gem of a submission.  Granted, it was just their own take on various other images that you can find everywhere but I digress.  It was a “tutorial” of sorts.  On how to make your character/fursona original.  What a wonder this work was.  And here I was thinking that even by creating something that meant something to you, you were being original.  Silly me for believing such nonsense.  It’s ludicrous to believe that giving your character unnatural colors or markings is original.  Or that creating a character of a specific species is unoriginal.  Unless you’ve completely thought up the idea yourself, you’re not being original!

 

A pink and blue kangaroo with a removable green wig and a strawberry mark on it's back...yep that's a completely unoriginal concept. Seen it a hundred times before.

Okay, okay…of course I’m being satirical now.  It’s no secret that I like sparkle animals and it shouldn’t be a secret (well…it won’t be anymore) that I believe something that is completely 100% original is hard to come by nowadays.  So when I see the concept of other people’s character getting bashed, it just makes me want to slam my head against a desk.  Granted there are many people out there who are just trying too hard to create a unique character or people who could possibly use some character design classes (myself included), but that doesn’t mean that they’re completely unoriginal or uncreative.

 

Usually this concept of original vs. unoriginal comes up during periods in the fandom when an artist creates a popular trend or species that has nearly everyone creating one on their own.  But of course there’s going to be the naysayers who believe that because you’re partaking in a particular fad that you’re being unoriginal.  You have a soda roo?  Nope, too many of those exist.  Not original.  Or a pokesona?  Nope…based off fan art.  No way you had any originality with that.  What about sparkle dogs?  God no!  Those things are too hideous to be unique or of any importance.  You have to love the types who can tell you exactly what is or isn’t original based upon…the fact that they’ve seen something similar before.  You also have to wonder if those types find anything original.  Usually you can please these types by drawing naturally colored animals.  But how many times can you repeat the same colors on naturally colored animals before you say that you’ve seen it before?  This isn’t to say that using natural colors is unoriginal (it most certainly isn’t).  It does limit you quite a bit with what you can and can’t do with your character.  If you want a naturally colored dalmatian you’re limited to a white and black or white and liver palette.  While the spot combination will change, there’s no doubt you’ll probably be thinking of Pongo and Perdita when you’re looking at the picture.

 

What some of these fads also do that many people fail to realize is that they get people to create.  They get people thinking about what colors and attributes they want to give their character.  What will their personality be?  What specific species will I be referring to?  There’s more than one type of kangaroo to base a soda roo off of.  So while they might be following a specific fad which might die in time, at least people are creating.  They’re exercising their ability to be creative.  Even memes allow for creativity (even though we might be dead tired of seeing them all the time).

 

Even fan art can have an original spin...now only if I'd sit down and finish this picture...

I realize that you’re entitled to your opinion.  And just as you may have yours, this one is mine.  Originality rarely exists anymore.  Everyone copies or is at the least influenced from someone else.  And even sitting down to draw a simple little character requires a little bit of creativity or originality (at the least creativity).  Not everything that’s created needs to be a brilliant masterpiece worthy of placement in only the finest art establishment.  No.  Sometimes creating for the sake of creation or for fun is just as good.

 

What do you guys think about creativity?  Do you think it’s hard or easy to still be completely creative and original?  Or do you think people now have to work harder at it since there’s more ideas out in the world and it’s easier to get your ideas out there?

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Despite there being artist in all fandoms, this one is specifically geared towards the furry fandom for a few reasons.  In the anime fandom your popularity is gauged either on your being an already published mangaka/successful animator or for the case of non-published artists, being able to successfully and skillfully draw already established characters or which ever characters might be popular at that time.  The lucky anime artists will have their own characters known, but for the most part, the anime fandom is about celebrating and coming together over already established works.

 

While there are certainly established “furry” characters (Pikachu, Sonic, Spyro, etc.), most furs don’t go around furry conventions looking for the pokemon cosplayer.  No, they’re searching out their favorite original characters created by other furries.  As well as searching out their favorite artists for conversation, possible commissions, or just wanting to meet the face behind one of their favorite fursonas/characters.  So this rant’s for the furs out there.  At least the ones who complain about different marketing strategies artists take to earn money.

 

Adoptable/Character auctions.  If you haven’t heard of them, they’re auctions of premade characters that artists don’t use anymore or have created for the purpose of selling.  And it seems to be all the rage amongst furs.  On deviantart, there are full groups set up for the selling and trading of various characters either through the usage of actual money or through DA’s points system.  But when adoptables or other characters are sold on FurAffinity, money is the sole option for getting one (unless they’re free which they rarely are).  The most I’ve seen a single character go for in an auction was $400+ dollars.  The lowest amount maybe $2 or $3.  Yet there’s always someone who wants to rant and rave about how wrong artists are for “selling characters”.  And then rant and rave at people who wish to buy said characters because “they could always make a character themselves”.

 

Yes…yes people can always make their own characters.  And they do.  But why do they want to buy this particular character?  Because it’s that particular character.  Made by that particular artist.  Maybe they like the colors and markings and you want a character with those colors and markings.  They didn’t think of doing it first but here’s a character that they really like, admire and want, and unless they don’t have enough to pay for it, nothing’s going to stand in their way of buying it.  And it’s a brilliant marketing strategy for making a decent amount of money in a short period of time.  Adoptables using the same base are quick to create.  Just put some colors on the premade base and you’re good to go.  This is the cheapest variety of adoptable.  Then there’s people who create very different character sheets for each creation they make.  These are you’re higher end adopts.  And usually the more popular artists can use this version because people want work by this artist, from this artist and are willing to pay for it if they can afford to (sometimes if they can’t).

 

Artists know their market perfectly when they do this.  They know their standing in the fandom, they know what sort of creations others in the fandom (or rather their watchers) look for.  And they cater to that.  No different than what any other working person in the world does.  Sure a person could create a character and it would be cheaper, but would it turn out exactly like the character that X-artist over there created?  Most likely not.  And most likely not and most likely they wouldn’t be able to get away with ripping the same design from X-artist over there due to the potential trolls, flamers, and white knights coming to protect their precious artist’s creations (while I agree that stealing intellectual/artistic property is wrong, I generally disagree with the tactics of most people who comment on such things).

 

Imagine this.  You walk past a store.  You’ve got money to spare after paying off student loans, rent, mortgage, etc.  And in this store window you see…a plushie or statue (depending on your tastes) that you would just love to have.  And it’s from a studio or artist or creator you admire.  You don’t need it.  But it appeals to you.  You know you can make something like that, but you can’t make that particular object.  And you want it.  So you buy it because you’ve got that bit of money to spare.  Now you can say you’ve got a creation by this person you admire.  Like a woman who buys a Gucci bag buys it to say they’ve got a Gucci bag.  Or a person who buys a Ferrari buys it to say they’ve got a Ferrari.  You’ve got a creation by X-artist just to say you’ve got a creation by X-artist.

 

So…as a (somewhat…though I highly, highly doubt this will ever work) “appeal” to the haters and flamers out there, artists can sell what they wish and people are free to buy what they wish.  If the fact that artist A over here is making hundreds selling character designs is bothering you so much, find something that you can create and offer to the community and work hard to market that skill.  Everyone’s got something.  Even you.  If you put half that amount of energy into doing what you do instead of ragging on other artists because of their selling a colorful dog character and making about $50 off of it, perhaps you could make a bit of money too doing what you love.  While I’m sure this appeal won’t do anything for you guys (you’ll just continue on being flamers and haters), perhaps those on the fence about such things can find a different yet valid viewpoint on the subject.  And also it was a nice way to end the rant.  ‘Til next time, guys…

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Whether they be dogs, cats, horses, or rodents, sparkle animals are a staple in the furry fandom.  A staple that seems to catch a lot of flack for being “unrealistic”, ludicrous, ridiculous, unoriginal, and plain old uninteresting.  They’re the butt of a lot of jokes for their bright and unnatural colors, markings, and accessories such as bracelets, bows, and piercings. 

 

Had it not been for a comment I received on Deviantart about this particular picture that I’d finished up today, I probably would not have touched this topic.  For me the issue was always a non-issue.  Sparkle animal are just as original and unique as a naturally designed character.  They’re a fun way to play around with colors and patterns.  And a good way to show that you don’t take yourself too seriously all the time.  But for those who hate (and I do mean hate with a fiery passion) unnaturally colored animals, the idea that something like this green and blue jackalope here is “unique” and “original” is foreign.

 

There isn’t a defining line of what constitutes as a “sparkle” animal though.  For some, it’s a naturally colored animal that’s offset with an unnatural color.  For others it’s the extreme of a character so outrageously colored, marked, and accessorized that it’s visually unsettling.  The latter is usually what you’ll see when people make fun of “sparkle” animals.  Because you’re stereotypical “sparkle” animal is a wolf so anorexic that it doesn’t look like a wolf anymore.  With long, thin limbs but a bushy mane and tail.  And a coat pattern of 6 or more colors and markings.  Usually some of those markings are music notes or hearts.  Accessories are typically multiple ear piercings, bracelets, and leg warmers.  And when a character is that detailed, it’s no wonder that unnaturally colored animals end up frowned upon.  However one must take in account that those who design characters to that extent are typically young teenagers and probably don’t have much experience in character design.  It is more difficult that people would like to believe.

 

I for one am a fan of these so-called “sparkle” animals.  And often attempt to design my own, usually to no avail (though that jackalope character and art above is mine, it is not a character I designed).  I love the originality in many of the designs and the usage of color.  And when a design is done well, it’s really done well.  For example…

 

This red panda.  Yet again, it’s a character and art that’s mine yet I didn’t design it.  Rather I bought the design from a wonderfully talented artist that goes by the name “Vani” or “Vanimute”.  All I did were tell her the colors that I wished for in a red panda character.  The markings and placement of the colors I left in her hands.  And this was the outcome.  She’s rather beautiful don’t you think?  There’s only so far you can get with natural colors and markings in red pandas.  And with using solely “natural” colors on animals, you can be sure to run into a person who’ll have an extremely similar character to yours.  Very rarely do fully naturally colored characters stand out in the sea of animal characters.  There’s only so much you can do when you want a naturally colored husky or red fox character (even if you do use the colors and patterns on domestic bred foxes).

 

So I’ll end this with a question:  Why is it that sparkle animals receive the hatred that they do?  And is that hatred well justified?

 

End note: My personal characters lean towards having more “natural” designs so it was a tiny bit difficult to come up with picture references that I wanted to use.  Without permission from other artists, I’d rather stray away from using their art or characters in this manner.  Both pieces and character above belong to me.  Do not use them without permission.

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