Remember that super fun game you used to play in grade school where you and all your snot nosed friends would take turns closing your eyes and smacking your hands blindly against each other's faces to try to guess who they were? No? Oh, yeah, I never played that either.
But here's the point (yeah, I plan on making points periodically in this Instructable, prepare yourself) it's hard to tell who's who when the lights are out. So when creating a character, you have to be aware of shapes so your creations don't end up looking like a bunch of little clones (as cool and sci-fi as that might sound). Think of it this way, if all your characters were silhouettes, would a person be able to tell them apart? If you answered yes to this question, good job, you can now close this Instructable and continue surfing the Web for cute cat pictures. JUST KIDDING, you are now legally obligated to finish reading, it's in the contract, small print, you must have missed it, don't bother going back to look, you're just wasting your time, it's really small print.
SO ANYWAY, if you said no, this is the Instructable for you; and even if you are reading this thinking it isn't, well JUST SIT AND KEEP READING, because I'll now explain why it IS. Ahem--there are no rules of creating a character. I can give you suggestions, you can Google it and read other people's suggestions, but that's all they are, suggestions. It all comes down to you to decide what works for you and what doesn't, but the more information you have in your arsenal of how-to-make-a-character-ology, the better chances you have of not creating bad characters. Or at least think of it this way, by the end of this Instrucable, you won't be any stupider, right? (It's up in the air at this point)
To help you along, I will also make a character with you during this time. It's almost like we're friends, eh?
Step 1: Choose a Body
AND CHOOSE WISELY! because unless you're going for the contrary look, like a lanky body builder or a buff wimp, shape makes the character. If you're using your character in an animation or even a comic, the watcher/reader won't always be seeing your characters from the same angles, so they won't always see their faces. It would be boring to read a comic where all the characters are shown head on, right? If your characters have different body shapes, its no problem for someone to tell them apart (you wouldn't ever get Patrick Star and Spongebob Squarepants mixed up, would you?).
Here I've shown only a few basic shapes that I've used in a cast of characters I plan on using for an animation. The first is the fat Half Oval which is good for characters who are stout and low to the ground. You could also stretch the Half Oval vertically to create an entirely different effect. I've also used the Rectangle for my overalled character, because it helps to develop the idea that she's a bit of a tomboy, don't you think? The Pear shape is a bit softer and rounder, but contrasts with this characters personality (you can tell by that pleased look on her face). Lastly, my favorite shape is the Triangle which is technically called a Trapezoid, but the idea still applies. This shape works for this character because hes a bit of a meat head, all his brains are in his muscles. This shape can also be reversed, then it could be nice dress.
There's no specific way to use the shapes, as well as there are probably a million different shapes out there. If you're feeling particularly uninspired, look at an old learning book that you had to read when you were little, where they tried to teach you all those shapes with weird names like rhombus. Usually a certain shape will strike you as interesting. If that seems like too much work, you could also turn on cartoons and try to see shapes in all the characters. Inspiration comes from EVERYWHERE!!!
For my character I'll be making with you, I've decided that I like the look of an oval for his body. I chose this shape because he his going to be a lanky, unattractive person.