Character Physical Appearance

  • Hey, so... I'm writing a bit more detail into my character bios on Shadows Rise. Originally I took the 'character sheet' template I use for my RP characters and stripped it down to a more basic thing for Shadows Rise, but today I decided to actually fill out the full character sheet at least for the main cast.

    While going through the painstaking process of trying to describe my characters' physical appearances for this, it occurred to me to come here and ask a question:

    At which point of a character's creation do you decide or figure out what they look like?

    For me... I tend to write characters for a while before their images start to form in my head. Sometimes I don't even know the color of their skin until one day it just comes to me. So, smaller things than that; like particular details of their faces, can take me years to develop.

    For instance, right now, I'm struggling to describe Gabrielle's face. For once because she's relatively new for me as a character, but also because she hides her face when hunting. The mental image I have of her is with a scarf over her nose and mouth and a hat or hood casting shadows over the rest of her face. I know she has dark grey eyes and I can sorta picture her eyebrows. And that's it. I'm sitting here mentally going "Let me see your damn face, woman. Cooperate!" lol

    This being an issue for me, I'm really curious to know what it's like for the rest of you. How do you develop your characters' physical appearances? Do you piece together individual traits in your mind like a puzzle? Does it just gradually become clearer over time? Is it the first thing you decide or is not that important to you? I'd really like to know. :)

  • I'm pretty much the same. I either have the most vivid image in my head of what a character looks like, or... nothing. I just make up vague comments about what they look like, but I can't actually visualize it for myself; it's just words on paper. If I happen to find a face cast, then it can be easier, but I also don't go out of my way to find one because... I don't know what they look like. (Benito and Nelly I found one because I happened to find a site dedicated to face casts and I boredly scrolled through it and found one that made me think NELLY and one that made me think "I guess this could be Ben" and that was that.)

    Even after several years, I still won't really know what my characters look like beyond maybe one or two details. Faces are always just random blobs in my head. One of my oldest, most favorite characters, who is going on 4 years old, I couldn't tell you a single (physical) detail about unless I was making it up off the top of my head.

    I don't know. Characters come to me with a few personality traits and some seeds for a background (as did one a couple nights ago) all the time, but rarely anything physical unless it was life-defining in some way. Sometimes I know some tiny details about them, such as race or hair or what kinds of clothes they wear, but beyond that it's random assignment when I reach a point in the story or development where I feel like I should probably know it. Possibly not the best method, but at this point it's just sort of... eh.

  • @typical_demigod I've been slowly forcing myself to figure out these things and learn to describe my characters because I want to eventually have someone draw all of them.

    Otherwise, I think it's okay to leave things to the reader's imagination. I've read whole books that didn't describe or even name the protagonist. So I don't beat myself up too much over the fact I suck at faces.

  • @Blackbird said in Character Physical Appearance:

    @typical_demigod I've been slowly forcing myself to figure out these things and learn to describe my characters because I want to eventually have someone draw all of them.

    I would honestly LOVE for someone to eventually draw my characters. I think it would be the best thing ever. I just have no money and I haven't decided to slowly force myself to learn how to describe my characters yet :P

    I've read whole books that didn't describe or even name the protagonist.

    It's kind of funny because people will get SO HEATED about the person in a film being cast as someone who looks exactly as they're described in the book and I'm just over here like "wait where did they even describe that character? Can someone point out that passage for me?"

  • @typical_demigod It's definitely worth it. And I found these guys on deviant art who're pretty affordable and REALLY enthusiastic. Thank God. I'm super paranoid I'll annoy people by going on about my characters, but they really like to know all the stuff. :P

    Here's the picture they drew of Crys

    They left out her freckles, but I didn't complain because all things considered, I think she'd be happy about that. lol

  • Plotist Team: Timeline Master

    @Blackbird I find it SO hard to visualise my characters, and what ends up happening is they become figures cobbled together from already existing characters in tv/film/comics etc.

    But when I'm reading other people's descriptions in books I do have a good idea of what I think they look like - so I'm one of those people you mention who gets heated at casting @typical_demigod XD

    I agree it would be amazing if you had someone to draw them! I mean... if you were really set on that idea @typical_demigod as well as deviantart, maybe you could look at something like fivver - they have artists on there who charge almost nothing for sketches and things.

  • @Sian Yeah, I know there are definitely a lot of options out there; it's just a matter of figuring out what they look like physically so I can approach someone. XD

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