Any tips for con­cept­ing a manga mas­cot?

Chris­tian Tal­bot, Aus­tralia

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An­swer Jia-Ying replies

When cre­at­ing an an­i­mal com­pan­ion to a manga char­ac­ter, it’s im­por­tant to note that the de­sign shouldn’t take too much at­ten­tion away from the hu­man. It’s al­ways help­ful to keep the colour pal­ette min­i­mal as well. Think of any no­table manga char­ac­ter or se­ries that has an an­i­mal mas­cot: the crea­ture is gen­er­ally de­signed to be sim­ple, iconic and ap­peal­ing.

Be­fore I start con­cept­ing, I con­sider ex­ist­ing an­i­mals that I can use for in­spi­ra­tion. For this ar­ti­cle, I want to in­cor­po­rate some cat and hare fea­tures, be­cause the re­sult of fus­ing two dif­fer­ent en­ti­ties is a tried but fun method. I also have the op­tion to use el­e­men­tal or even cul­tural themes which, de­pend­ing on what you’re go­ing for, can help drive the story be­hind your an­i­mal mas­cot.

In this case, I just want this fan­tasy an­i­mal to ex­ude a mag­i­cal vibe. I in­clude traits like a flam­ing tail and mark­ings on its head and ears to hint of an un­der­ly­ing, more pow­er­ful form, that might man­i­fest later on to aid the main manga char­ac­ter in their jour­ney. I imag­ine that the crea­ture would abruptly en­ter the char­ac­ter’s life, as they of­ten do, dis­rupt­ing the nor­malcy and herald­ing a new ad­ven­ture. To con­vey the im­pres­sion, I used a bed­room set­ting so that it seem like the crea­ture is tres­pass­ing into a per­son’s pri­vate space.

As­sum­ing the an­i­mal mas­cot will be ap­pear­ing reg­u­larly next to your char­ac­ter, keep­ing the over­all de­sign sim­ple will al­low for bet­ter read­abil­ity. To cre­ate a sense of har­mony, I first fill in the back­ground colours, then work over the main fo­cus with the de­ter­mined colour di­rec­tion.

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