Deep Dive: My Character Design Process

Original post:

Hi everyone! ^w^

This is a more in-depth type post I've wanted to do for a while. But since you seem to enjoy our little behind the scenes stuff a lot I thought I'd finally sit down to write one!

I wanted to show a bit about how I come up with characters and how I approach designing them.

As a porn artist, I like to start the process with something that is very dear to my heart:

There Is A Hole That Needs Filling

Usually the process starts with a need for a character. It could be necessary for the story or for a location I am designing. So I ask myself a series of questions, to nail down what I need:

  • What kind of a person would fit here?
  • How would this person interact with some of the other characters I have?
  • Who would they surround themselves with?
  • What would they talk about if they had a drink together?
  • How would they decorate or use their environment?
  • What kind of a home would this person have? 
  • How do their mannerisms manifest in their environment? (For example: Naruto painting over the Hokage stone faces because deep down he is sad and does anything to get a bit of attention and recognition.)

Even if I only show the tip of the iceberg for a character in the game, fleshing it out a little bit until I can get a sense for them helps me so much with guiding the art and writing later on.

Usually a lot of this happens when Null and I go for a walk and talk about the game. I can kinda let things marinade in my mind and when I plop your butt back down to work the next day, things have already become a bit more concrete and fleshed out!

Setting The Mood

So you have an idea for the kind of person you want to design and the character is starting to take form inside your mind.

Sometimes, at this point, it might be helpful to collect some reference and create a moodboard.

I don't do this for every character, only when I am unsure about the aesthetics and details I want to go for.

In the case of the Chieftain I knew I wanted a mayan/incan touch.

I'm a big Warhammer nerd and some of the Lizardmen creature designs in it also found its way into the design for the chieftain.

I thought a headpiece like this would fit her perfectly, so I went to Google Images to collect some references that I used during my sketches.

For reference and moodboards I use PureRef ( which you can use to move, resize and crop reference in a big canvas. It's a bit more user-friendly than Photoshop or Clip Studio for this task.


Jim Butcher, one of my favorite authors, wrote some articles on how he approaches character design and one thing that stuck with me was his use of "tags". Some authors fill out a whole bio for every character but he makes a point that it's often a bit overkill. Instead of doing a bio, he likes writing down a collection of tags that describe his characters. It seemed much more creative and less rigid. You can just brainstorm them and see if they sit right with you or not. And you can focus on only the things that are important to your story or game.

A tag could be anything about your character, like their appearance, if they have any identifying items on them like a staff or certain clothes, if they have certain mannerisms, how they talk like if they are sweet or like to use profanity, any habits they might have, their general attitude and stance, and so on. You get the idea.

Just noodling on these tags will already give you some good ideas and the character will start to take shape more and more inside your head.

So for example, for our chieftain some of the tags I came up with were: Dignified, proud, beloved by her people, strict but kind, confident, maybe a little vain, ...

So, how would this manifest in terms of art and animation?

Well, if she is vain, she might be a little proud of her jewelry, so I made her touch the feathers of her head piece as if she wants to draw attention to it. On the surface it looks like a person is touching their hair, but in reality she wants to show off just a little bit. ^w~

With a deeper understanding of the person's character, these mannerisms can start to feel more real and logical.

It's Time To Get Slappin'

After I feel like I have a good enough sense of the character, I go into sketching mode as quick as I can. Otherwise it's tempting to just get stuck in the ideation part of the process.

Sometimes I go straight to pixel art, especially if I have other characters I can use as a base to go off of, like with the kobolds. And sometimes I do traditional sketches so I don't have to worry about the limitations of pixel art and making it look good. It's easier for me if I can go into as much detail as I want first and then figure out how to do a pixel art version of it.

Going Deeper

In the sketching phase I often go into breadth first, before narrowing it down.

For example, with the shaman I went through a bunch of iterations until I finally found a design that we thought fits.

Once you have a palette of options, though, it is time to go deeper and narrow down more and more, reject ideas that aren't good enough or don't fit the character.

Here are a bunch of the rejected shaman designs:

Uncensored pictures will be available in the next Sneak Peek and a Sketch Pack I am preparing!


The final step is probably finally deciding on the final design. It means saying "No" to other good ideas that you like and that would fit!

Here is what it looked like for her sham

Was it good for you too? n_n

Here is our chieftain, yet to be named, channeling some serious Shantae vibes

And here is her shaman!

And that's how I generally approach making characters!

Hope you enjoyed this post! ^w^

Cheers, Cookie

[EDIT: My original plan was to make this public and then show the uncensored art in the sneak peek. But it was a bit too risky for me, even with the censoring, so I decided to roll it into one post!]

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As someone who loves pixel art, it was neat to get a glimpse of the thought process. Thanks for posting this!


Thanks for reading! :D

As there are two primary areas of interest on the shaman (or is it 3?), I would consider using tattoos to draw attention to both of them instead of just one. Thanks for the character design advice, I think I will make use of it.


yea I'm getting some shantae vibes from her too, I like it.

I love Shantae, I wanted to channel some of that love ^-^

Thanks for this. It was interesting.

You have quite an insightful way of fleshing out a character. I hope I can use this knowledge of yours to design a character in a story.

This was super cool and informative! I'll have to try some of these techniques out when I get some time to make some new games haha


Hi Moxi! Glad you enjoyed the post!! ^-^