Any tips for concepting a manga mascot?
Christian Talbot, Australia
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.