So, you need to design Christmas characters. Where do you start? A good idea when trying to create Christmas characters is to study other famous characters by different artists and traditions. These can very well be either fictional or non-fictional.
Eventually, a set of values will emerge which can be the canvass over which Christmas characters may be designed. Finally, we’ll figure out the best way to actually make all these things happen and discuss how someone may acquire the designs they need online.
Why Christmas Characters?
There are several projects where the creation of Christmas characters is useful or even essential. The first thing that comes to mind is television and film. It’s possible that we may want to create a fictional television show or film project based around Christmas. If that is the case, the characters may very well be entirely new, but based around familiar Christmas tropes and themes. Even visual ads for television or Internet platforms may require textured characters, much like those we’d see on longer television or film projects.
There will be times when you may need Christmas characters for video games or 2D or 3D animation in general. Although these characters will generally be less complex than the film or television characters, they will surely rival them in complexity.
Alternatively, you may be interested in creating Christmas characters for print projects. Imagine, for instance, the creation of characters for postcards or greeting cards. Although such characters would be solely used as images or graphics, a careful brainstorm and creative process will produce stellar drawings.
You may find that you need to create Christmas characters for audio projects such as radio or Internet audio ads. There are some content creators who underestimate the need to carefully create the characters in these pieces. The problem seems to be that since radio commercials and audio ads are not visual, some creators think that creating complex characters is an unnecessary hurdle. It’s vital to remember that these audio characters need as much creation as any other. Their personality will be shown through their voice and vocal characteristics!
The Meaning of Christmas
There are several things which we immediately identify with Christmas. It’s always a good idea to study this when we attempt to design characters. When we create Christmas characters or study similar characters already created by others, we soon realize that they are firmly rooted upon a bedrock of themes and tropes we’ve come to associate with Christmas. These themes and tropes of Christmas all seek to revolve around the question of the meaning of Christmas. Do you remember ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’? It revolved around this very question. When creating Christmas characters the meaning of Christmas is usually the premise that will inform our creation and work. We’ll understand this a bit better in a while, when we start looking at Christmas characters as such.
Human Fictional Christmas Characters
A good place to start when attempting to design Christmas characters is looking at historical Christmas characters. The point to remember is that these are timeless and it’s important to ask ourselves why. They all seem to try to answer the question we just pondered: what exactly is the meaning of Christmas?
One of the most well-known Christmas characters is Ebenezer Scrooge. He is the protagonist of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. Scrooge is essentially a wealthy yet miserable person, who hates everyone around him. Christmas is meaningless to him as well. Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner, who warns that he’ll be visited by three spirits.
Sure enough, the Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge a vision of his early days at boarding school, of his apprenticeship, and his failed marriage proposal. The Ghost of Christmas Present, gives Scrooge a vision of Scrooge’s current predicament: Cratchit, his employee, can’t provide for his ill son because of Scrooge’s miserly ways. Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge the future: a lonely death. Scrooge begs for another chance, and gets it, waking up on Christmas day, with a chance to make things right and change for the better.
George Bailey, from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is another famous Christmas character. The film tells his story, as a small town banker who sacrifices his dreams and eventually feels he’s failed at life. He finally begins to contemplate suicide. An angel, named Clarence Odbody, comes down to help him. He gives George a look at things if he’d never lived: his town completely decrepit and full of amoral people. Some of George’s friends and acquaintances have led troubled lives because George wasn’t there to help them through. George decides he wants to live again, realizing he’s had a ‘wonderful life’.
Kevin McCallister is the protagonist of ‘Home Alone’. The McCallister family goes to spend Christmas in Paris, but forgets their youngest son. Although they realize mid-flight that Kevin’s still back home, they soon discover that going back to get him will take quite some time. Meanwhile, back home, Kevin has to fend off two robbers who are trying to invade his house. Kevin defeats the robbers, with the help of a neighbor. He’s finally reunited with his family, who make it back from Paris.
Other Fictional Christmas Characters
Now then, we’ve seen some specific Christmas characters. Now let’s try to understand some more general Christmas characters and what they’re about.
Christmas elves are tiny assistants who work for Santa Claus in the North Pole. They’re usually shown as tiny humanoids wearing green or red clothing with pointy hats. They usually have pointy ears as well. Elves usually work in Santa’s workshop, making toys and helping Santa in different things.
Frosty the Snowman
Frosty the Snowman is another famous Christmas character, first mentioned in a song by Walter Rollins. The song is very famous, telling the story of Frosty, a snowman brought to life by a group of kids. Frosty dances and plays with them and then vows to return one day.
Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer
A study of Christmas characters wouldn’t be complete without this great character. Rudolph is a reindeer with a glowing red nose, created by Robert L. May. Rudolph is mocked by the other reindeers but his glowing nose proves invaluable to Santa and the other reindeers one night.
Creating Unforgettable Christmas Characters
In her book on character creation, ‘Creating Unforgettable Characters’, Linda Seger explains the process of creating great characters. She gives out some very interesting principles. These ideas will help us when creating Christmas characters.
The first thing we need to do, when attempting to create Christmas characters is to investigate. When investigating, we need to ask ourselves several things: the context of the character, its cultural influences, the historical period in which the character exists, the character’s occupation,and other related things.
It’s usually a good idea to create a compelling backstory for our Christmas characters. Such a backstory will try to answer to questions such as: where the character comes from, why the character lives in the city/location of the tale, what the character does for work, what the network of family and friends is like.
In general, backstory seeks to add depth to three basic elements of the personality of every character: physiology, sociology and psychology. Let’s try to explain this a bit more. Consider a character who wears an eye patch. Surely this physical condition will carry with it an important bit of backstory. Likewise, consider another character who has always worked as a butler, ever since he was 16 years old. Surely this will influence his general demeanor and provide a lot of useful backstory tidbits. Finally, think of a character who failed her lifelong dream of winning a gold Olympic medal and only managed to achieve a silver Olympic medal. Surely this failure could potentially color her whole personality and outlook on life, for better or for worse.
The primary way to reveal character is usually dialogue. There are some things we need to remember when crafting dialogue. First of all, good dialogue tends to be similar to music in that it’s composed of a certain rhythm and even melody. It’s usually quite short, generally being made of short bursts spoken by each character. These pieces of dialogue are usually about two or three lines long. A dialogue between two characters is something like a tennis match: There is a constant exchange in a game marked by opposing forces.
Perhaps most importantly, good dialogue is all about subtext. The things that aren’t said are often the most decisive. Bad dialogue, conversely, makes all characters seem the same. It’s also too ‘on the nose’, so to speak, in that it gives away the intentions of the characters and doesn’t allow for any subtext at all.
Too Much Marzipan!
There are times when character creation goes awry. This usually happens because the characters have too much things going on at once. Hence the Hollywood adage ‘too much marzipan’. It’s vital to create characters carefully, even fictional Christmas characters. There is tendency to overdo it when creating characters. This includes overdoing things such as stereotypes.
Getting it Done!
The Bunny Studio Way
Nowadays Christmas characters for all sorts of projects and platforms can be acquired online. Bunny Studio has a talented group of experts in a vast array of fields. Whether you want to create characters for film, television, commercials, 2D, 3D, video games, postcards, greeting cards, posters, and more, we can help!
Go to the Bunny Studio website and click on ‘Contact Us’. This will start the conversation with our very helpful staff. Good luck with your Christmas characters!