What is a Character Model Sheet and How to Create It

What is a Character Model Sheet and How to Create It

From Nicky Bella

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A character model sheet is a key tool in character design. It acts as a guide, showing designers the shape, size, and details of each character. This is useful for both professional designers and hobbyists, as it can improve your character creation process. In this article, we will explain what a Character Model Sheet is, as well as the main aspects of its creation.

Understanding Character Model Sheets

Character model sheets are like character templates used by animation teams. They show the shape, size, and design of each character. The goal of these sheets is to help the artists make all the characters look the same as if one artist drew them all. This is often called being "ON MODEL".

A character model sheet usually includes a front view, back view, 3/4 view, and side view of the character.

Front View: This is the most straightforward view of the character, facing directly toward the viewer.

It's important to get the symmetry right in this view, as it shows the character's basic features such as the shape of the face, body proportions, and clothing details. It's also a good place to show the character's typical expression.

Back View: This view shows the character from behind.

It's essential for understanding the character's hairstyle from the back, how clothing fits and looks from behind, and any other details that are only visible from this angle, like a tattoo or a weapon tucked into a belt.

3/4 View: This view is a mix between the front and side view, showing the character at an angle.

It's one of the most commonly used views in animation and comics because it gives a good sense of depth and three-dimensionality. It can show how features look when not viewed straight on, which can be very helpful for animators in the outsourcing industry.

Side View (Profile View): This shows the character from the side and can reveal a lot about the character's shape, such as the shape of their nose, how far their belly sticks out, or the posture they typically hold.

It's also useful for understanding the depth of the character's features.

These views help the animators understand the character's shape and size. The rotation also makes sure the character design can be turned, making the character look more real.

For example, you can look at the character sizes and their common features for the Nifty League NFT project. The characters are made by the outsourcing game art studio RetroStyle Games.

Here's some practical advice on how to create these views:

Creating a Character Model Sheet

Creating a character model sheet involves several steps, each focusing on a different aspect of the character. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to create a character model sheet:

1. Character Construction Sheets

These sheets help to define the character's basic shapes and proportions. Start with the side and front view of the character using simple shapes.

2. Full Head Turnaround

A head turnaround must include at least a front view of the character, a rear view, a profile, and a three-quarter view. Start with the profile and the front view, then sketch the three-quarter view so that the three views match.

3. Full Character (Body) Turnaround

Use your previous drawings as guides to draw the full body of the character. This helps to keep the character consistent across all views.

4. Color Sheet

The purpose of the color sheet is to set all the colors that will be used for the character. This includes the colors for the character's skin, hair, eyes, clothes, and any other relevant parts.

5. Expression Sheet

An expression sheet covers the basic range of emotions and reactions: joy, sadness, anger, surprise, suspicion, boredom, etc. This sheet helps define the character's personality and the way they act.

6. Pose Sheet

While the expression sheet focuses on the face, the pose sheet shows the character’s typical body postures. Draw at least 4 or 5 poses to complete the work.

3D Character Modeling and Design

In the realm of digital design, 3D character modeling takes the concept of the character model sheet to another level. It involves creating a three-dimensional representation of the character, which can be rotated and viewed from any angle. This is particularly useful in video game design and animation, where characters need to move and interact within a three-dimensional space.

The process of creating a 3D character model is similar to creating a character model sheet but with an added dimension. You start with a basic shape, known as a mesh, and then add details such as facial features, clothing, and textures. The character's proportions and poses are defined using a skeleton or rig, which can be manipulated to create different poses and animations.

Just like with a 2D model sheet, consistency is key in 3D character modeling. All views of the character must match and work together to create a cohesive whole. This requires careful attention to detail and a strong understanding of three-dimensional space.

In addition to the visual aspects, 3D character modeling also involves creating the character's physical properties, such as how they move and interact with their environment.

This can include defining the character's weight, balance, and the way their clothing or hair moves.

3D character modeling is a complex process that requires both artistic skill and technical knowledge. However, the result is a fully-realized character that can move and interact in a truly lifelike way.


An Essential Tool for Comprehensive Character Design

Сharacter model sheets are an essential tool in character design, helping to develop all facets of the character and find that final model which sometimes is so difficult to find. These sheets are essential in animation production, but they can also be useful for whatever medium you choose to develop your character.

Remember, the goal of professional character design is to explain the models in the best possible way. So, whether you're designing a character for a comic book, a video game, or an animated film, a character model sheet can be an invaluable tool in your design process.

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