Episode 017: Create, Design and Build Your Characters To Become Iconic (Our Character Design Process)

Thursday, March 9, 2016 | by Ed Williams and Brent Lyles

1 hour and 24 minutes


In this episode, Ed shares the Arclight character design process in detail, going over the three major phases—Concept, Story, and Design—and some of the steps in each, including: The Rapid-Pitch Method, Building the Visual Mood Board, and Making Yourself Vulnerable to the Character.


Key Takeaways

  • Marvel and DC Comics are marketing and branding machines. They put their characters everywhere. In order to do the same, you have to learn how to get your characters to the point where they can be broken down to their simplest forms. If not, you don’t get to do any of this.
  • There are three major phases to our character design process: Concept, Story, and Design.
  • The Concept Phase gives you the opportunity to start at what’s called a baseline concept and rapidly build it up to a point where you have the opportunity to make a specific archetype uniquely your own.
  • The Story Phase gives you the opportunity to create a unique balance of ordinary and extraordinary moments for your character. This was one of our findings when we researched Marvel and DC. Your characters can’t fight all the time. You have to have ordinary moments between the extraordinary ones.
  • The Design Phase breaks down our study of Marvel and DC characters, and highlights the importance of silhouette, iconography, and color theory.
  • We’re writing a book, Build Iconic Characters That Last, that will break down these processes even further.

Your hosts

Ed Williams

Brent Lyles