How to Start Your Career as a Character Designer

How to Start Your Career as a Character Designer

Are you passionate about art and storytelling? Do you have a knack for bringing characters to life through your illustrations? If so, pursuing a career as a character designer may be the perfect path for you. In this article, we will explore the steps you can take to kickstart your journey towards becoming a successful character designer. From honing your drawing skills to building a strong portfolio, we will cover everything you need to know to launch your career in this exciting field.

Education and Training

When it comes to starting a career as a character designer, having the right education and training is essential. There are several paths you can take to gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in this field.

Art and Design Degree

One of the most common routes to becoming a character designer is to earn a degree in art or design. A degree program in fields such as illustration, graphic design, or animation can provide you with a solid foundation in the principles of art and design, as well as the technical skills needed to create characters for various media.

Online Courses and Workshops

In addition to a formal degree program, you can also benefit from taking online courses and workshops that focus specifically on character design. These courses can help you develop your skills in areas such as character anatomy, expression, and storytelling, and can be a great way to supplement your formal education.

Internships and Apprenticeships

Another valuable way to gain experience and training as a character designer is to participate in internships or apprenticeships with experienced professionals in the field. These opportunities can provide you with hands-on experience working on real projects, as well as valuable networking connections that can help you launch your career.

Developing Your Skills

As a character designer, it is crucial to continuously develop and enhance your skills in order to stay competitive in the industry. Here are some key ways to improve your craft:

Practice Drawing Regularly

One of the most important aspects of being a successful character designer is to practice drawing regularly. Set aside time each day to sketch different characters, experiment with poses, and work on improving your technique. The more you practice, the more confident you will become in your abilities.

Experiment with Different Styles

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with different styles of character design. Try drawing in a more cartoonish style one day, and then switch to a more realistic approach the next. By exploring different styles, you will not only expand your creative horizons, but also discover what sets your work apart from others.

Learn Digital Art Tools

In today’s digital age, it is essential for character designers to be proficient in using digital art tools. Invest time in learning software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or Procreate, as these tools can greatly enhance your workflow and open up new possibilities for your designs. Additionally, mastering digital art tools will make it easier for you to collaborate with other artists and clients in the industry.

Building a Portfolio

As a character designer, having a strong portfolio is essential to showcase your skills and attract potential clients or employers. Your portfolio should demonstrate your ability to create diverse and unique character designs that highlight your creativity and technical skills.

Create Diverse Character Designs

When building your portfolio, it’s important to include a variety of character designs that showcase your range of styles and abilities. Experiment with different themes, genres, and art styles to demonstrate your versatility as a designer. This will not only showcase your creativity but also show potential clients that you can adapt to different project requirements.

Showcase Your Range of Skills

In addition to creating diverse character designs, your portfolio should also highlight your range of skills as a character designer. Include samples that showcase your ability to create character concepts, develop detailed illustrations, and work in different mediums. By showcasing your technical skills, you can demonstrate your proficiency as a designer and increase your chances of landing new opportunities.

Seek Feedback and Improve

Finally, seeking feedback from fellow designers, mentors, or potential clients can help you improve your portfolio and grow as a character designer. Constructive criticism can provide valuable insights into areas where you can improve and help you refine your portfolio to better showcase your strengths. By continuously seeking feedback and making improvements, you can ensure that your portfolio remains competitive and relevant in the ever-evolving field of character design.

Networking and Job Search

When starting your career as a character designer, networking and actively searching for job opportunities are crucial steps to take. Here are some effective ways to do so:

Attend Industry Events and Conferences

Attending industry events and conferences related to animation, gaming, or design can provide valuable networking opportunities. Connect with professionals in the field, showcase your portfolio, and learn about the latest trends and technologies in character design.

Join Online Communities and Forums

Joining online communities and forums dedicated to character design can help you connect with like-minded individuals, receive feedback on your work, and stay updated on job openings in the industry. Platforms such as ArtStation, DeviantArt, and Reddit’s r/characterdesign are great places to start.

Apply for Character Design Positions

Once you feel confident in your skills and have built a strong portfolio, start applying for character design positions at studios, agencies, or freelance opportunities. Tailor your resume and cover letter to showcase your unique style and experience, and be prepared to showcase your work during interviews.

By actively networking and searching for job opportunities, you can kickstart your career as a character designer and pave the way for future success.


In conclusion, starting a career as a character designer can be a rewarding and fulfilling journey for those with a passion for art and storytelling. By honing your skills, building a strong portfolio, networking with industry professionals, and staying up-to-date with trends and technology, you can position yourself for success in this competitive field. Remember to stay true to your unique style and vision, and never stop learning and growing as an artist. With dedication and perseverance, you can turn your dream of becoming a successful character designer into a reality.