Three great tips for character designers

Character designers Katie and Mike AKA TADO have worked with some of the world's biggest brands, including Nike and the BBC. Here they offer advice to artists who are starting out.

Mike and Katie, aka TADO, are well-known for turning their 2D designs into amazing vinyl toys. We asked them what advice they had for budding character designers. Here's what they had to say...

01. Have fun with it

Mike and Katie's first piece of advice is to have fun. "Don't be too precious with ideas and always try things you're not sure about. Ask friends for opinions but remember that everything is subjective – there's no real right or wrong way to do it.

"Rules are meant to be bent and don't worry if you don't have a style as such to begin with. Be patient and keep on playing."

This cute little pig, Piggle, is part of TADO's Cannibal vinyl toy series

TADO's career so far is a great example of this principle in action. "Like all kids of the '80s we grew up with action figures and dreaming of the ones we could never have."

The pair began collecting toys whilst still at uni: "At first it was retro '80s toys and comic book characters, but we quickly discovered the fledgling vinyl toy market and were hooked immediately by the work of Pete Fowler, James Jarvis, Bounty Hunter, etc. It seemed so exciting and accessible, and also a great way to bring our own work to life.

Don't worry if you don't have a style as such to begin with. Be patient

"It's the process of producing stuff that we enjoy most - whether it's toys, or T-shirts or prints, whatever really - we love applying our skills to different things to just make STUFF!

"We love the current surge in DIY toy making and we're playing around with some ideas for some super low run stuff and a lot of hand finished things. There's going to be the first UK Designer-Toycon in April 2013 and we're excited to make some really cool things for that."

02. Try something different

Mike and Katie's second piece of advice is to create something unique. "Always try and find something that makes your character different to the next. Whether it's visual or through its personality or humour."

Their first vinyl toys, The Fortune Porks, are a great example of this. "They were created in 2004 for the boss of the sadly defunct Fly Cat toy company. He really wanted to make some miniature plush toys as it was something that hadn't really been done before as an artist toy.

"It was a really cool process for us and they were very well received. We still enjoy playing about with them!"

TADO's first vinyl toys were the Fortune Porks made back in 2004

03. Pull a face

TADO's final piece of advice is a simple but effective one: "Always make sure that when you're drawing a character's expression that you're pulling the same one! It works!"

Mike and Katie like to experiment advise new designers to 'be patient and keep on playing'

It clearly works for them - so why not give it go yourself? The worst that can happen is you get caught making a funny face at work...

This Dunny named Miss Oonishi was TADO's first toy for KidRobot

To find out more about TADO, check out this in-depth interview we did with them recently.

Do you have any tips for character design? Have you spotted any great 3D characters? Tell us in the Comments!

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