If you have ever wanted to license your designs or illustrations then you will want to hear an interview with Kurt Marquart and Elaine de la Mata from Monkey Doodle Dandy who have just licensed their characters Squaredy Cat™. In the interview the duo speak about how they get ideas, how they found their licensing agent and also a really clever way they tested the market for their design using Facebook.
What is licensing? Licensing is when you give the rights to someone to use your design/artwork in return for a payment/royalty. You retain ownership of the design. Different types of license can be granted from the right to use the design on one item in one country to worldwide rights.
It’s now been a few years since I first started to try to license some of my character designs. I currently have a licensing agent who has been trying to license the character designs for me and it looks like I might finally be one step further as a TV production wants to get on board (I have a meeting set up with my agent next month). When I first designed my characters I really had no idea what a licensing agent would require to try and sell my designs, but my agent has been incredibly helpful showing me examples and telling what he needed so I thought I would share this with you. One thing I now know is that nothing happens quickly in the world of licensing, a character may be created but not make it to the shelf or TV screen until 5+ years later.
So if you have created some characters and want them in a form to present you will need:
A brief synopsis – which says the type of character they are, their names – their personality ie. happy, sad, bad tempered etc along with what they do – ie. do they have special powers, what is their relationship to the other characters, where do they live etc etc.
A turnaround sheet showing all angles of the characters front, back, side, and 3/4 view
What colours are used in the character ie. pantones
Size of the characters – ie. are they the size of a human or the size or a pencil for instance, how do the size of the characters relate to each other.
Create a logo that becomes the brand of the character
Drawings of where the characters live
Ways in which the characters could develop – do they have pets, could more characters be created in the future.
Perhaps think about showing how the characters could be used – ie. show them on mugs, cards, childrens clothes etc.
You will also need to think about protecting your idea via possible design registration and trademark registration for your logo (this is an expensive process).
Its is incredibly difficult to find any free information about licensing design and artwork. One of the best bits on online information about creating and licensing character designs I have found is –
If you are a budding artists, character designer or illustrator there are bound to be times when you need human figure reference. I was recently looking for some books to help with figure drawing and showed different poses but in the process of searching came across a website that could really help.
Characterdesigns.com is a website which provides resources and information for artists, illustrators and designers, one of these resources being figure reference photos of people in different poses. There are several sets of photo poses which you can chose from a drop down menu. The figures include action, facial expression, nudes and figures in costume. Although some are a little rigid/posed they are a good starting point for getting proportions etc right.
Also on the site are photos of events such as fashion shows and anime expos, all again which can act as good reference for drawing the human figure. There is also a section where artists and illustrators can display there work and a forum too. As this site grows I think it could become an excellent resource for artists and designers alike.
As some of you may know I am a big fan of character design and try to keep an eye on what is going on online. I discovered Cedric Hohnstadt’s website and blog a little while ago and thought it was worth a mention. What I like about Cedric’s site is the way he has been sharing his experience of some online character design training he has been taking with Schoolism. Schoolism features online training in digital design and character design. The character design training is done interactively where the student follows a supplied brief each week uploads their drawings which the tutor will then draw over digitally in video form to show how they think the drawing could be improved. You can see an artcast by Stephen Silver about the course on his website. The course looks very tempting but is fairly expensive at $998 dollars for nine lessons, but that includes personal critiques.
Anyway back to Cedric and his website and blog, take a look at some of the lessons he has taken part in. I especially like the portrait studies exercise which shows how starting with different face shapes – a circle, square and triangle can really change the look of a character. Take a look and see if you can get any inspiration for your character designs.
I have like the character designs of Jon Burgerman since I first saw them in Computer Arts magazine. His character designs are very child like using thick black line and bright colours.
Over on Youtube I found an interesting clip where Jon Burgerman created a black and white mural in Derby UK using the people as inspiration. He then got the community involved doing the colouring in. Take a look.