This is all you need to know about the Character Design Challenge. You don't have to read this entire page, just keep the 5 basic rules in mind (see below) You can come back here in case you have any doubt, in 99% of the cases you will be able to find your answer here without waiting for an answer in the group.
Each challenge has also specific guidelines, so please check the current Theme of the Month page later.
Don't forget that now you can also win the Challenge Rewards, the prizes for the Character Design Challenge! Simply re-post your design as a Supporter on our Patreon page to access them and to vote in the surveys to choose the new themes, every month!
The following list is a content overview of this page:
- The 5 basic rules
- What is OK and what is not OK
- Types of entries
- Challenge Rewards (Prizes)
- OCs, FCs, FAs, RDs and Pastiches
- Old designs
- Alternative media (3D, maquettes, etc.)
- Special Fan-Art/Re-Design Challenges
- Facebook ''Likes'' & Tumblr Blog
- Credits and Watermarks
- Wips, Props and Gifs
- Standard of Draftsmanship
- Missing the deadline
- Block on comments
HOW TO SUBMIT
- Things to remember before submitting
- Uploading vs. sharing from your page
- Upload your design: Step by step
- Re-upload your design on Patreon
- Abusive behaviour & Art Hecklers
- Winner's posts etiquette
- Group Jumpers
- Community spirit
- Legal Notes
The 5 Basic Rules
These are the 5 basic rules for the Character Design Challenge
1 ) STICK TO THE THEME
This is our number one rule! Please remember that your design MUST match the theme.
Originality and “thinking outside the box” is always encouraged and we love creativity, but If your interpretation is way too eccentric or you twist the concept until the theme is unrecognisable, it will have no interest for us or the other artists of the community and your work will not be relevant for the challenge.
If your design doesn't get approved in the group, please don't attempt to submit it again, as this can lead to a temporary or permanent ban from the group, so please be very careful.
2 ) NO (OR MINOR) ENVIRONMENTS AND BACKGROUNDS
This is our rule number two. Remember that the artworks submitted to the CDChallenge must be focused on the characters, not what is happening behind their backs.
Your design can be created in any style and for many hypothetical purposes. For example, your artwork could be a character study created for an animated 2D, 3D, stop-motion, live action movie or for a mobile app and a video game (these are ''model sheet entries'', which are by definition, what is considered proper character design in the animation, game and movie industry). Your artwork can also be the illustration of a character for the cover page of a novel, a pen & paper role-playing game, a tabletop game, an art book, comic book or a children book (these are ''illustrative entries'', which are welcomed in the group even if they are not proper character design), and it can also be a design for a t-shirt, a brand or a sport team (these are ''mascot entries'' which are also acceptable as submissions in the group). Whatever is the type of artwork you decide to submit in the group (model sheet entry, illustrative entry or mascot entry), please make sure avoid to draw or paint any complicated, distracting and overly detailed background.
Designing a character with a monochrome, flat and plain background is by far the best (and clearly the easiest and most effective) way to submit an entry for the CDChallenge without running into any possible issues, but this solution is not mandatory. Minor objects and elements next to your character (barrels, rocks, bushes, tree brunches, furnitures etc.), or a simple background/environment (minimal, low-detailed, blurred, out of focus, a pattern, etc.) can still be included in your design for the CDChallenge, but please keep in mind that your main focus should always be on the actual character you are portraying, particularly on the visual and narrative elements that defines the look and the presence of it (outfit, silhouette, shapes, gestures, attitude, mood, etc.).
So remember, if you decide to include background elements in your artwork, you will also take the risk of potentially not having your entry approved in the CDChallenge group, and also diminish greatly your chances to be chosen as a Winner of the CDChallenge, so please be extra careful with it.
3 ) DESIGN A FULL FIGURE
The rule number three is probably the most common mistake made by new members. Your design must include a full figure of a character. Not just the head, not just the head and torso, we want to see the entire character. There are only 4 exceptions for this rule:
- If minor elements* (such as grass, dust, snow, water, sand, a long vest, etc.) cut or cover a small portion of your character, your entry will still be considered ok.
- If your character rides/is inside the cockpit of a vehicle: in this case head, torso and arms could potentially still be ok (please make sure to read the section about vehicles below).
- If part of the lower side of your character fades in the background due to an high speed motion trail effect.
- If only one single limb is out of frame (a hand, a foot etch.)
*Examples of minor elements: A knight with his feet in a puddle, a giant with a crowd of small additional characters covering his feet, a victorian lady wearing a long dress that doesn't make possible to see her shoes, a magician with a long vest that touches/fades into the border of your artwork's frame.
Also, if you find yourself using perspective or foreshortening in your design, you might be going in the wrong direction, as these designing approaches can be used as a way to bypass the full figure rule. Avoiding perspective or foreshortening is not mandatory, but a design that uses this techniques might not approved in the group, if we think that it doesn't show enough elements to portray your character, so please be extra careful with it.
4) ONE SINGLE CHARACTER (BASED ON THE THEME)
The rule number four is also really important: Create only ONE SINGLE CHARACTER based on the theme. If you think it is necessary to deliver your idea, you can still draw additional characters or creatures* (like a sidekick or a pet) but please make sure we can clearly see who is your main character for the challenge. Keep in mind that if your design includes more than one character based on the theme, your entry for the challenge will be considered as a “line up” of characters, which is against the rules. We also suggest you not to make the additional character or creature overshadow (in size) your main character.
Infants and children can be considered sidekicks only if your main character is an adult. The children/infant characters must be portrayed as 'sidekicks' and not as 'an opposite force' (example: a mum carrying her infant child is OK, but an adult thief confronting/fighting a child vigilante would be NOT OK. If you are confused about any of these rules, please don't take any risk and include only a single character based on the theme in your work.
*Examples of additional characters/creatures: a pirate with his parrot, a mum with her child, a knight with his squire, a witch with her cat, a troll with insects flying around him, etch.
5) ONE DESIGN FOR EACH CHALLENGE
Rule number five: you can post only a single design** for each monthly challenge, make it count!
You have (more or less) 25 days to work on the design of a character, so please make sure you are 100% done with your creation before posting it in the group.
Props designs (gadgets, weapons, alternative outfits) and wips (painting process videos, gifs or sheets) or any other further exploratory designs for your character can be also shared in the group, but exclusively in the comment section of your final entry (see ''Wips, props and gifs'' below).
**IMPORTANT if you want to withdraw your entry for the monthly challenge and replace it with a new one, you need to get in touch with us first and tell us what is the issue with your previous design. Having ''a new idea'' or ''not being satisfied with the previous submission'' are not considered acceptable requests, the entries for the challenge can be replaced only if there's a technical issue with them. Replace your design without our permission, or posting more than 1 monthly entry in the group will lead to a permanent ban from the group, so please be very careful. You can contact us HERE. For organisational porpoise, we will only reply to you if the request is considered acceptable.
WHAT IS OK and what is not ok
The 5 basic rules for the CDChallenge are more or less all you need to know for posting a design correctly in our group, but maybe you still have some doubts. That's why we have created this helpful list for you: the first part is contains examples of what is actually OK to post in the group, and the second part is about things that are NOT OK.
Here`s a list of what is OK to post in the group:
- OK A full figure of a character with no background
- OK A full figure of a character with a minimal, very simple background
- OK A turn-around sheet with a full figure
- OK A full figure + expressions (in a single image)
- OK A poses sheet (in a single image)
- OK Any kind of model sheet that includes a full figure is basically a good entry
- OK Redesigning an already existing character in your own style is usually a good entry
- OK Using digital or traditional media
- OK Coloured or black and white artworks
- OK Your character drives a vehicle* or rides a creature (please read below)
*If your character is driving a vehicle or a creature, it is OK, but we highly suggest to take its size into consideration. Make sure we can clearly see the most important thing: the character. If the cockpit of a vehicle covers the legs of your character, you need to make sure that the remaining half of the body (torso, head, arms) are clearly visible. If your character rides a creature/vehicle, the rules are the same and your character must be portrayed as a full figure (with the exception of a single limb which can be out of frame, or covered, for example by a long vest). Even if not mandatory, we also highly suggest you to show the entire vehicle (or creature) in your artwork, so that we can better appreciate the silhouette of your creation.
Now, let’s see a list of what is actually NOT OK to post in the group:
- NOT OK Only the head of a character
- NOT OK Only the head and torso of a character
- NOT OK A full figure of a character with a very detailed background
- NOT OK Line up of multiple characters based on the same theme
- NOT OK Pornography in your design is not welcome
- NOT OK Caricatures and portraits
- NOT OK Tracing or copying characters from another artist leads to a permanent ban
- NOT OK Extreme gore and violence in your design
- NOT OK Racist, political or religious messages in your design are definitely out of place here
- NOT OK Explicit Nudity** (not mandatory, read below)
Types of Entries
All the entries for the CDChallenge follow the same rules, but are created by artists with very different styles and from very different backgrounds and industries. A mangaka will create a design that looks radically dissimilar from a 2D animator or from a children book illustrator. Artists can explore more illustrative solutions in the work if they wish so, and their design doesn't need to be religiously functional, like if it was submitted as an actual model sheet for the video-game or animation industry, to then be used as the blueprint for the construction a 3D character or a 2D animated one (model sheet entry).
As already mentioned in the 2nd Rule of the CDChallenge, an entry for the CDChallenge can be created in any style and for many hypothetical purposes: it could be a character study created for an animated 2D, 3D, stop-motion, live action movie or for a mobile app and a video-game (these are ''model sheet entries'', which are by definition, what is considered proper character design in the animation, game and movie industry). It can be the illustration of a character for the cover page of a novel, a pen & paper role-playing game, a tabletop game, an art book, a comic book or a children book (these are ''illustrative entries'', which are welcomed in the group even if they are not proper character design), and it can also be a design for a t-shirt, for a brand or for a sport team (these are ''mascot entries'' which are also acceptable as submissions in the group).
A model sheet entry obviously makes a great submission for the CDChallenge, but by no means is the only choice you have, nor submitting a model sheet entry makes your design stand out from the rest, by default. This is an inclusive community open to artists of different backgrounds and, as a general rule, as long as your artwork portrays a character and respect the rules listed on this page, whatever is the type of artwork you decide to submit in the group (model sheet entry, illustrative entry or mascot entry), it will be equally considered as a perfectly legitimate submission for the Character Design Challenge.
The Challenge Rewards are the official prizes of the Character Design Challenge. The rewards are exclusively available for the Supporters* of our community on our Patreon page. Please visit the Challenge Rewards section of our website HERE to discover each individual prize included in the rewards, and learn how to access them in the Membership section of our website HERE.
*IMPORTANT: Simply re-post your design in our Patreon page as a Supporter to qualify to the monthly rewards! Read more details below in the section ''Re-upload your design on Patreon''.
OCs, FCs, Fas, RDs and Pastiches
OCs (Original Characters: design of characters based on an artist's original idea), FCs (Fan Characters: design of original characters created for an already existing universe), FAs* (Fan-Arts: design of characters based on one from an existing work of fiction, but executed in the artist's personal style, with no major changes), RDs (Re-designs: design of characters based on one from an existing work of fiction in which the original concept/idea has been dramatically changed) and Pastiches (design of original characters that imitates the style of a famous artist) can all be posted in the group. Remember that OCs have more chances to win the Character Design Challenge, so please keep it mind before submitting your design in the group. The only exception for this rule is for our Special Fan-Art/Re-design Challenges, in which OCs and FCs are not allowed.
*IMPORTANT: Artwork traced from the design of another artist are explicitly forbidden in the group. Members who will be found guilty of tracing their character from another design will be banned from the group.
Old designs that perfectly match the current theme are still relevant for us and the community and can be posted in the group. When you upload your work you need to let us know that your entry is an old design and wasn't created specifically for the challenge, therefore your work won't be considered to be reviewed as a possible Winner of the Challenge or as a possible Special Guest Juror's Choice.
Note: Old designs will be approved in the group exclusively if their execution is within the rules and when they portray exactly what the Theme of the Month ask for.
Alternative media (3D model, maquettes..)
Please remember that the CDChallenge is a community and a contest open exclusively for 2D artists. You can only submit a 3d model, a picture of a sculpture or a maquette, an animation pencil test of a character (both as a GIF or as a video) or a comic strip ONLY as an additional entry based on an original ''static'' design (uploaded as a jpg, jpeg and png file). Same goes for photo manipulation, photo-bashing and collage. You need to draw/paint an original 2D artwork* first and only then, post your additional artwork in an alternative media in the comment section of your an original character design entry. You can also team up with another artist who is already a member of the group to create an additional artwork. Collaborations do not make your work stand out from other entries, but if you are here to challenge yourself, this can be an amazing exercise.
*IMPORTANT: Flat paper cutting is considered an exception to this rule, since it's basically a normal 2D artwork.
The Fan-Art/Re-Design Challenges are special CDChallenges dedicated to an existing work of fiction. They can be based on any animation, book or movie franchise chosen by the Supporters of the Character Design Challenge on Patreon, that can also suggest new ideas in the monthly surveys.
The Fan-Art/Re-Design Challenges have more limitations: OCs (Original Characters: design of characters based on an artist's original idea), FCs (Fan Characters: design of original characters created for an already existing universe) and MUs (Mash-Ups: design of characters based on two (or more) other characters from existing works of fiction, will not be accepted as entries. Only FAs (Fan-Arts: design of characters based on one from an existing work of fiction, but executed in the artist's personal style, with no major changes), RDs (Re-designs: design of characters based on one from an existing work of fiction in which the original concept/idea has been dramatically changed) and Pastiches (design of characters that imitates the style of a famous artist) can be posted in the group for this special challenges.
Fan-arts/Re-design challenges constitutes an healthy and fun exercise for every character designers. If you wish to expand on the subject, please feel free to check out this video from the mighty Jake Parker
Facebook Likes & TUMBLR BLOG
Facebook ''likes'' and ''reactions'' do not increase your chances of becoming a Winner of the Challenge. The winning artworks are select for their aesthetic and storytelling, a design that has gained only a few likes has the same chances of becoming a winner as one with hundreds or thousands of likes. We only take the ''likes'' into consideration when we create the queue for the daily posts of The Challenge Logbook, the official blog of the challenge on Tumblr, in which the favourite designs get democratically chosen by all the members of the community to represent the best artworks submitted in the group for each monthly challenge.
CREDITS AND WATERMARKS
We highly recommend to credit the work you share in the group. This is very important, because we invite hundreds of our followers from Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr to visit the group and discover new talents, every day. Make sure to to add the links to your website (and blog, Facebook page, online store, Patreon page, portfolio), in the caption or in the comment section of your own post. If you don’t have a blog, you can also share your email address or just your name.
Another important tip is to apply a small watermark directly on your design, with your name or the URL of your website. Don't make it too big and don't place it in the middle of your design, just add something small on the side. This way your work will always be traceable and your credit will never be missed.
We highly suggest to develop these habits in general, not only for the challenge.
WIPS, Props and GIFs
WIPS (Work in progress) and any other kind of material related to the character you have created for the challenge (minor updates about your original entry, additional characters based on the current theme, animated gifs, close up, props design, alternative outfits etch.), can be posted in the group, but only in the comment section of your OWN post. You can redirect the members of the group to your blog with a link or post a picture directly.
Remember that a full figure of a character based on the current theme is the only design that you can post in the group each month. To post another a main entry in the group, you need to wait for the next challenge.
Standard of Draftsmanship
Due to the large number of active members and the high amount of artworks submitted in the Character Design Challenge, we must ensure that all the entries featured in our Facebook group meet a basic standard of draftsmanship and presentation. Designs from beginner artists that don't meet the basic quality expectations of our community, will unfortunately not be approved in the group. Also, designs that intentionally don't try to ''push the envelope'' (sticky figures, for example) or in which the subject of the drawing hasn't been properly researched, will not be accepted. Same goes for blurred, low-quality and/or out of focus photographs of artworks.
This rule aims to incentivise all the artists to submit only their best designs for the monthly challenges, and it has been requested by the members of the community as a solution to maintain a stable level of quality in the group.
Missing the deadline
Keep in mind that the deadline is always the 2nd day of the month (at 11:59 p.M. Gmt + 0:00, Dublin time) and if you miss it, you obviously also miss the opportunity to participate in the challenge. You will still have 5 days to share your artwork with the community but, for organisational purposes, your design won’t be approved in the group until the 7th of the month, a day after the winners will be announced on our pages and the new theme will be released in the group.
BLOCK ON COMMENTS
Please remember that at the beginning of a new challenge we usually blocked the comments on many of the posts that features designs based on the previous challenge theme. We do this in order to keep the new designs for the current challenge on top of the group wall. If you want to get in touch with an artist who has the comments blocked on their work, please just follow the link for the website provided in the comment section of the post (or try to contact directly the Facebook profile associated with it).
Things to remember Before submitting
- POST only ONE entry (1 single picture) for each monthly challenge
- DO NOT create an album in the group (albums will be deleted)
- DO NOT upload a file in the group (members and visitors can’t see your work)
- RE-POST your monthly entry also on our Patreon page if you want to qualify for the Challenge Rewards
UPLOADing VS SHARING FROM YOUR PAGE
Please DO NOT share a direct link from your Facebook page.
We obviously want you to promote your work in the group, and you can share as many links as you want (your blog, Facebook page, online store, portfolio, Patreon page, etc.) but make sure to share those links in the caption of your post. If you share a post directly from your Facebook page, your design will not be recorded and saved in the photos folder of the group. Instead, it will soon get lost in the group feeds, due to the number of daily entries from other artists. Our team and the Special Guest Juror select the winning artworks from the photos folder, so please make sure we can find your artwork in there.
If you want your fans to support your entry for the challenge, you can still share your design from the group to your page.
Upload your design: Step by Step
Now that you know all these boring rules and you have created your character for the current challenge, you can finally upload your design in the group, let’s see how:
- Go to the Facebook group of the Character Design Challenge
- Press the ”add photo / video” button and then proceed to ”upload photos / videos”
- Upload your artwork from your device
- Write any text and share any link you want in the caption of your post
- Wait for us to approve your post in the group
- Within 24hrs your design will appear on the group wall, you will receive a notification.
Re-Upload your design on Patreon (ONLY SUPPORTERS)
Artists who have upgraded their membership on Patreon as Supporters access also to the Challenge Rewards, the monthly prizes of the Character Design Challenge. In order to qualify for the rewards, you need to repost your design in our Patreon page. The design reposted on Patreon must follow the rules of this page, just like a standard design submitted on our Facebook group.
Passion for a common cause and selflessness are the glues that hold a good community together. Another glue is having a deep respect for others.
The Character Design Challenge group is a positive, easy going online community. Behaving in a proper and polite way is an essential requirement if you want to be part of it, so please play nicely.
We strongly encourage all the artists to be open for critiques. The Character Design Challenge can be a valuable training ground for those willing to improve their skills, especially the ones who are taking their first steps towards an art career. Critiques makes us better artists.
At the same time, it's also important to remember that to maintain a peaceful atmosphere in the group, we need to be extra careful when we're commenting on the designs of another artist. Sharing a design with a large group of people to then be judged by others takes a lot of courage, especially for the youngsters. The last thing that someone needs is a rude and insensitive comment that appears out of the blue in the comment section of their work.
This doesn’t mean that you can only like or congratulate another artist, just remember that, before writing a critique, it is important to learn how to deliver a constructive one first. In order to do so, we highly recommend to watch this video by the talented art teacher Matt Kohr, creator of Ctrl+Paint, who will introduce you to the useful concept of the ''Critique Sandwich''.
Also, don't forget to visit the Critique Video section in our website. Matt has created 6 short videos for us. Each of them explore 6 principles of design through the examples offered by some of the artworks submitted for our contest, in the past. Watching this short series is a great way to learn how to deliver, and how to receive, a constructive critique in the Character Design Challenge community.
Abusive Behaviour and "Art Hecklers"
Any member being abusive will be banned from the group. Same goes for any other kind of negative attitude or behaviour in the group, such as:
- Questioning the very nature of the Rules of the CDChallenge (we ask you to read them before joining the group)
- Behaving as an ''art heckler'' and rudely attack the artists for their creative choices
- Any form of ''recreational outrage'' towards us or the artworks posted in the group (everything is racist, everything is sexist, everything that I don't like is fascist, and so on)
- Bulling other members in the group with insults or violence threats
All the cases listed above can potentially lead to a permanent ban from the group. We don't take these kind of decisions lightly, but if a negative, careless or nonsensical behaviour will force us to take action, we will do it. If you have been banned from the group and you wish to join in again, the only way to have your account accepted again in the group is through a portfolio application. You can send the link to us using the contact form HERE.
Depending on the individual cases, you will be also potentially asked to formally apologise to us and to ALL the members of the community with a public post in the group. We will evaluate your request which, if accepted, it will give you full access to the group again.
WINNER'S POSTS ETIQUeTTE
At the end of each challenge the 3 Winners of the CDChallenge, the Special Guest Juror Choice and the 3 artworks awarded with the Challenge Rewards are announced on our social pages. This is intended to be a moment to celebrate the art created by the awesome artists of our community and congratulate them, not an occasion in which you can take advantage of the high visibility of these posts, and make them your personal outlet for frustration, or disagreement with the rules and selection of the winning artworks. We ask you to read the Rules of the CDChallenge before joining the community, and one essential rule is respecting the Winners and the decisions made by the Special Guest Jurors and the CDR Team. It is therefore considered unacceptable to:
- Writing offensive remarks of any kind in the comment section of a winning design.
- Complaining with us and the winners only because ''your favourite entry was another one'' and in your opinion ''other designs submitted in the group deserved to win''.
- Post your own design in the comment section of a winning design, because in your opinion, ''your design was much better'' or it wasn't approved in the group, and you don't agree with the decision.
- Questioning the very nature of the Rules of the CDChallenge, the criteria to choose the Winners of the CDChallenge, the Special Guest Juror Choice and the artworks awarded with the Challenge Rewards
- Any form of ''recreational outrage'' towards the winning artworks (this is racist, sexist, fascist, and so on)
All the cases listed above can potentially lead to a permanent ban from the group, so please be extremely careful. If you have an official complain about the winning artworks, you can contact us HERE.
A ''Group Jumper'' is a member of the group who writes fake comments (or irrelevant ones with the help of a friend) on their own post to make their artwork ''jump'' on top of the group wall in order to boost the visibility for their work. Posts should go on the top of the group wall only when there's a genuine interaction with them and, since the group has thousands of members, we need to remind you that maintain a correct behaviour is essential to be part of this community. The members of the CDChallenge are luckily very touchy about this issue and they have the ability to flag to us anyone who attempts to do this in the group.
Group Jumpers are considered as SPAMMERS. If your post gets flagged to us by other members, and you get caught by us of adopting this kind of behaviour in the group, the consequences can be:
- We will block the comments* on your post and you will be publicly notified about your behaviour.
- We will ban you from the group, for a month.
- We will ban you from the group, permanently.
- We will ban you and the friends who are helping you, permanently.
*VERY IMPORTANT Please remember that comments are usually blocked also on many other old posts in the group at the beginning of each challenge. We do this in order to keep the designs for the new challenge on top of the group wall. If you don't see any notification on your post don't worry! You didn't do anything wrong.
Please remember that the CDChallenge is just a game that we play all together for fun, despite our different artistic choices, drawing levels, styles, tastes and influences.
Having winners is part of the game. A little excuse to keep all the members in the community motivated and put more excitement at the end of every challenge.
The real goal of our community is not to win a contest, but to learn together, build our portfolio with artists from all over the world, promote our work, make new friends who share the same passion and contribute with our unique touch to a collective and fun character design exercise.
Please make sure to post only your design for the challenge in the group, nothing more.
Don't post any other kind of link as a main entry, even if it’s supposed to be “character design related”. Members who will attempt to spam the group feeds with third party ads, inappropriate material or with contents that have nothing to do with the challenge will be banned immediately. You have been warned, no exceptions.
Feel free to invite your friends and fellow artists to join the challenge today!
And now.. sharpen your pencils, LET’S DRAW!
Character Design References™ is not responsible for any copyright infringement on part of the individual artists, our intent is merely to inspire others to create original works based on a common theme. For questions regarding specific pieces of artwork please follow the links for the website, portfolio or social pages provided by the author in the caption of the design posted in our Facebook group or contact directly the profile associated with it.
The Character Design Challenge is being organised and managed by Character Design References™. The Character Design Challenge is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or Patreon. By entering this contest, you agree to a complete release of Facebook and Patreon from any or all liability in connection with this contest. The project partners and sponsors are listed on www.characterdesignreferences.com.