It seems like everyone wants to be an anime artist these days. We think that's great. Today's budding artists will be tomorrow's hot anime creators. But whether you are talking about anime veterans or newbies just getting started, they all have one thing in common: the need to create strong characters.
There are two ways to look at creating anime. One way is to start with a story and then develop characters to tell that story. The other way is to approach it from the opposite direction. You first create characters and then develop a story to fit those characters.
For our money, it seems like starting with a character is the right way to go. We say that because the original artwork on all our anime hoodies, sweatshirts, and T-shirts tells a story even without a streaming series or a manga equivalent. Each of the characters in our original artwork collection tells an individual story.
A good place to start is figuring out what you want your character to look like. Here's why: anime is recognized not by storylines and character names. It is recognized visually. People see it and immediately distinguish it from Western animation. Like it or not, this is the reality. So it's important to concentrate on aesthetics in the early going.
If you are like most people, you already have an image in mind. Maybe your character is based on you or someone you know. Perhaps your character is completely fictional in every way. Regardless, your imagination has already constructed an image of that person. Now you need to translate your imagination to an image on paper or screen.
If you hope to create compelling anime, your character has to be compelling as well. So do all your supporting characters. Note that the key to creating compelling characters is to create them with personality. Your brain has an image of what your character looks like, now delve into getting to know that character as a genuine person.
What are your character’s likes and dislikes? Does your character have any unique abilities or powers? Are there any experiences from your character's past that influences their present?
You are also probably going to want to decide whether your character is a hero or a villain. That decision can either flow from the character's personality or dictate what their personality is like. In developing the personality, you might even discover that your character is somewhere between hero and villain.
The one thing many storytellers fail to do is create details for their characters. Some of the details will be revealed in your story, others will not. The point of developing the details is to make your character as realistic as possible in your own mind. So what kind of details are you after?
For starters, your character obviously needs to have a name. But then give your character a birth date and age. Decide where the character lives, works, or goes to school. You can develop as many details as you like. The more you can come up with, the more real your character will become. That is key to telling a really good story.
While you are pondering all of this, take a look at our original anime artwork. Check out our anime sweatshirts, T-shirts, and hoodies. We are willing to bet that you will find our characters compelling even though they don't appear anywhere outside the Umai brand. Create a compelling character and you have the foundation of a great story.