How to quickly create different character concepts

Concept artist and illustrator Emrah Elmasli on the easy way to come up with unique character designs.

There are two ways to quickly create different character concepts: the easy way and the hard way. The hard way is painting over the portrait and altering the form and appearance of the character manually. This takes longer, though. In the easy way, I use the Transform tools to help me alter the shapes and sizes of the character's facial features.

I still have to paint, but it's minimal. I start painting the portrait of the main character in Painter. I try to keep it basic so I can make the other two variations more interesting.

How to quickly create different character concepts

The first of three variations

I switch to Photoshop, duplicate the head a couple of times and align the heads next to each other so I can compare them while I make the changes. For the first variation, I decide to depict a tougher-looking guy.

How to quickly create different character concepts

Emrah uses hard-edged brushes to painting male characters

To convey this, I paint in a couple of scars on his face and add stubble. Than I duplicate his jaw and use the Distort tool to widen it. Then I erase the long hair and make it shorter on the sides. For the second variation, I employ the same techniques to achieve a "fleshy" look.

How to quickly create different character concepts

Emrah's third variation

I mostly use hard-edged brushes when painting male characters, to convey the masculine and chiselled look better.

Words: Emrah Elmasli

Emrah Elmasli is a freelance concept artist and illustrator based in London. He has over eight years' experience in video games and publishing. This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 103.