1. tinkerstiles
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    tinkerstiles New Member

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    Character appearences

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by tinkerstiles, Dec 6, 2012.

    This is my first time on this forum, and first time even actually thinking about writing. Anyway I am working on my characters and I was thinking about what they are all going to look like and I was just wondering how do most people decide on what characters look like? Do you just see them in your head and go from there? Or do you use specific actors/actresses to go off?
    I just like to know how other people work.
     
  2. SGTGerman
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    SGTGerman Member

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    The answer to this is endless. I mean, I can't remember which character it was now but the guy who designed its face (it was a robot) took inspiration from a toothbrush handle!

    The main character is always based on myself, as it helps me "be there" in the story better (with a few extra muscules and less acne of course lol). Other characters are based on a whole range of ideas drawn from tv - illustrations. People I know well - those I saw glimpses of throughout life.
     
  3. tinkerstiles
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    tinkerstiles New Member

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    A toothbrush handle? wow I guess that works... It helps me to have something to look at so celebrities are great because they are pretty much endless but they give me inspiration and something to work with.
     
  4. SGTGerman
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    SGTGerman Member

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    Another good example is The Millenium Falcon was inspired from a "bitten into" hamburger!

    Another good one is RPGs like Fallout and Mass Effect where you can design your own characters.
     
  5. tinkerstiles
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    tinkerstiles New Member

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    Huh I never noticed the Millennium Falcons resemblance to a hamburger before, that's weird.
    Also character design in games is pretty much my favourite part.
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    For me, it varies. For some characters, I get a very specific picture in my head. This is always the case when his/her appearance is important in the story, but sometimes I get a very clear picture of the person even when it isn't important. A while back, I posted somewhere here on the forum (probably in the general area) that I had been reading a book, turned a page, and there, in a photo, was one of my characters staring back at me, looking EXACTLY as I had pictured her in my mind's eye. I mean every feature the same, and even the age was right. Scary.

    OTOH, I had a main character who to me was faceless. I knew everything about him except what he looked like.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a general idea of what they look like. Sometimes I'll know of an actor/actress that just seems 'right' for their looks, but I tend to use pictures only to help visualize facial expressions. I rarely describe physical characteristics in my actual writing, however, so it's not really that important.
     
  8. tinkerstiles
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    tinkerstiles New Member

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    That is spooky. For me sometimes I have a clear image of what they will look like and then I will realise they have a striking resemblance to an actor/actress and then I will end up just picturing them in my head instead.
     
  9. Jetshroom
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    Jetshroom Active Member

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    I work in a visual medium as well so it's very important what a character looks like. When I'm creating a character visually, I tend to think about what the character is like, and draw to match that. But, I think that's not so relevant here.

    When I'm writing a character that won't have a visual aspect, I tend to be vague. I think the reader needs to be able to project themselves onto the characters. I also think that a lot of readers will do that regardless of the description. I know my wife was surprised to learn that Hermione Granger(Harry Potter) was ugly. I was astonished when I realised that Princess Carline(Magician) had a completely different colour hair to what I thought. We've both realised that we just make up what the characters look like regardless of the author's description.

    I think this helps us identify with the characters. That's why I keep my descriptions vague.
     
  10. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    I don't think I've ever had a clear picture of the characters I make up. I know their general appearances, but not much else. I don't stress over it too much.
     
  11. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I base all of my character off of differents actors and actresses but i only use small details like eye color height eye color body measurements age etc.
     
  12. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    I usually have some kind of picture of my characters in my head, but they're rarely based off of actors. Actors are way too pretty for my protagonists.
     
  13. IanLC
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    IanLC Member

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    I do a lot of historical fiction writing thus I have an idea of who I want my character to portray. But many times though I come up with a Character and as I write the story brings the character to life and their appearance comes to me. I do feel that the appearance of the character does play a role in the attitude and actions of the character similar to how the outside appearance in the world plays a part on our emotional, social, economic and other values, feelings and attitudes and even actions. So, if you were to create an outline for the appearance of your characters remember and see how the appearance does effect the outcome and actions of the character. Writing to me is much like the real world all the things that influence us in the natural will influence our characters in a similar way in our stories.
     
  14. domenic.p
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    domenic.p Banned

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    moved
     
  15. TheDoctor97
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    TheDoctor97 Member

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    For me, it definitely comes naturally. Very often, certain aspects of their race (I'm writing Science Fantasy) will be very important, and I need to know what they look like. For example, I have a race that are, in essence, shadow creatures. I wanted them to look evil in a way, because they are very cruel. I needed something that we, as humans, thought to be evil. Darkness is very often one of these things. So, when I crossed one of these creatures with a human, I got a human with dark features; grayish (literally) skin and completely black eyes.

    That was very important to me. Other times, I won't worry about it. It doesn't matter. I know their hair and eye color, and that's about it. I like to let the personality guide the characters for the most part, unless, as the example I gave above shows, it is important to the plot.
     
  16. squirrelpen
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    squirrelpen New Member

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    I create the look of my character depend on his role in the story. I sometimes imagine my character based on the people that I know in real life and I will just edit his description a little to perfectly fit the character that I want. I never use specific actors and actresses as they are seem too perfect to use as I don't really like using a perfect kind of person as my character. I like to create characters that have a lot of insecurities and liabilities. I do create characters that are handsome and pretty but not to the extent of perfection. I give my readers the chance to imagine my character the way they wanted it to look like. So the only thing that I describe in details are the attitude of my character.
     
  17. penandpaper
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    penandpaper New Member

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    I generally use people that I know as my characters so I usually have a good idea of their appearance. I find that this helps me describe their facial expressions and reactions. When this isn't possible I'm usually pretty vague, and I find that iit doesn't matter.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, how about Edward James Olmos? Or Kathy Bates? I'm not saying they're hideous; they aren't. But they are not what most people would call "pretty" either.

    I don't base characters off actors, either, but not because actors are too anything.
     
  19. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    To say it easily, my characters are a puzzle that comes together in bits and pieces.
    I found that most times my character's personalities are what devolop their looks for me. Most times I won't know what a character looks like in the beginning, except that they are male or female, and then a possible age for them. As time goes on though and the characters start to develop more and more, I find that I want to start defining them more, and one of the main things I've learned to attribute to my writing is key features. Basically, what are some of the things you would notice about this character right off the bat? Is there hair long or short? Are they tall, average hieght, or are they a short stack?
    Noting basic key features will help you get an idea about what you want your characters to look like.
    Of course, as I said, most times I won't know what a character looks like, so instead I go looking for some inspiration, and believe it or not I actually use a lot of dress up games, or character simulators to play around with possible ideas of what a character can look like. In most cases though, and this is probably because I'm also somewhat of an artist, my character will go through several stages before acquiring that final look for them.
    I honestly don't like basing characters off actors/actresses, not that there's anything wrong with it, I just feel that the media has painted them to be too perfect, singers too, and therefore, when I try to make a believable character that it will come out too perfect, and then I'll just have a Mary Sue on my hands that'll take a lot of work just to fix. This is just my personal opinion though, whatever works best for you is what works best. Although it might take you some time to find out what will work best, if that's the case, best of luck!
     
  20. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't really "base" my characters off of actors. Sometimes I sort of "cast" my characters and that helps me focus. Sometimes the cast doesn't work and I move on but sometimes it does help put a more permanent face on my character, for me at least.
     
  21. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    -honestly, I get inspiration from people I see in the street.I would see characters in my head and then ironically, I wind up seeing somebody similar in the street somewhere. I do that to keep a certain level of realism. All of them, the plain, weird and very attractive . I have an mc who is a black girl who looks like a doll, saw a woman who looked almost just like her in the street only difference was cup size and eye color. I have another character, tall beautiful blonde, who I saw a redheaded version of her in the street! Even saw someone who looked like my other mc, some gender ambiguous Asian guy. I had to see him five times to figure out if it was really a he or a she.its really kinds creepy... but as a rule I base no one off of actors, or celebrities, ever.and most of them look weird anyway
     
  22. The Vortex
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    The Vortex New Member

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    Most of my characters are loosely based on people I've known or encountered throughout my life, so in my head they kind of look like those people. A few are their own entities, not based on anyone specific, that have just popped into my mind of their own volition. Other times I get ideas for characters from watching documentaries - scientists, detectives, lawyers, and other types of people I don't generally run into on a daily basis. That's a good way to get a picture of what real people in those roles look like, as well as their mannerisms and the terminology they use. I don't make them exactly the same, of course, but it's a good starting point that helps me keep them from feeling like stereotypes.
     

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