Interested to learn the top character design trends for 2019? In this article, we’ve researched and identified the trendiest character design styles for 2019.
Character designers, striving for uniqueness and diversity, keep inventing all kinds of new character design styles inspired by anything and everything. While some trends occurred naturally with the ever-growing potential of the latest graphic and illustration software on the market, others were born from the avant-garde thinking of modern artists, and thirds arose from the needs of the business and marketing world.
All of these factors led to the formation of several top character design trends which have established as the most popular and wanted right now. Curious to learn what they are? Top character design trends for 2019 are:
- Simplified real 3D style: the doll effect
- Flat geometric style: back to the basics
- Oversimplified character style: no facial features
- Doodle character style: thick outlining
- Outline, flat, and patterns: combo style
- Artistic character style: texture and pattern rich designs
- Overexaggerated features: playing with proportions
- Realistic & detailed: an evergreen trend inspired by real life
Simplified Real 3D: The doll effect
One of the most popular character design trends nowadays is the ultra real 3D. Characters that look like real-life dolls with smooth shapes and glossy surfaces imitating real-life materials are very trendy for video ads, explainer videos, digital campaigns, and more. Created with 3D software, it almost feels like you can reach your hand and touch these ultra-realistic characters.
The style is easily applicable to any kind of object and allows you to easily turn it into an eye-catchy character. Simply add hands and legs and you are all set! You don’t even have to think about expressions but focus on body posture and gestures, instead.
By playing with colors, gradients, lightings, and shadowing, a powerful 2D software can also be used to recreate the effect of 3D doll character style. Characters imitating the real 3D style can be used on all kinds of projects and the files are quite lighter. However, if you aim for a 3D character who rotates at 360 degrees, 2D software won’t do the trick. Here are several examples of characters imitating the real 3D effect.
Flat Geometric Shapes: Back to the basics
In the last several decades, character design has become more and more detailed with time. Contrary to this tendency and as a natural sequence of the flat graphic design boom, fully flat characters (no gradients or patterns) made of simple geometric shapes has become one of the steadiest character design trends in the latest years.
Such character designs look simple, conceptual, and don’t steal the spotlight. By simplifying the body features into basic shapes, this style of characters is suitable for almost any kind of digital and web projects. They are especially popular for explainer videos and presentations where the focus is on the information instead, and the characters are just supportive figures.
Flat geometric style can be very simple or a little bit more detailed boosted with secondary colors and additional strokes but still keeping it simple. The valuable feature about this style is that the characters are still readable enough even when presented in smaller sizes. This quality makes this style of the most famous character design trends today.
Oversimplification: No facial features
Oversimplified cartoon characters emerged as a response to the very popular minimalist trend which until recently, was basically every other design on the web. Now, the minimalism in web design seems to be replaced with other fancier trends but this is not the case regarding character design trends.
Fully flat solid color characters won’t take the attention away with eyes staring at you. They are powerful in conveying ideas and concepts with body postures and gestures without distracting the viewer with the character design itself. This makes this style very popular for presentations, web designs, marketing campaigns, and more.
The “Doodle” craze: Thick outline characters
What is known as “doodling”, is a modern lineart style which is very popular today. By using a marker, artists create rich compositions with simplified cartoony characters interacting with the environment and many other illustration details. The process is called doodling and the artwork is created gradually from one part of the canvas to another.
The popular doodling inspired the creation of character design in the same style. The “doodle” characters are very simplistic characters with recognizable thick outlining. They look cartoony and don’t include much detail.
Outline + Flat + Patterns: A hit mixture
When it comes to character design trends, designers are always looking for new looks striving to find new ways to impress… with simplicity. What a better way to do it than combining several simple styles into one character design? This is the case with the harmonious mixture of outline style with flat elements, and flat patterns.
The character design shapes of this successful style mixture can vary from pleasant character design based on simple geometric shapes to uncanny and extravagant character design looks with weird body proportions.
The designs get even more simplified when the color in the composition are minimized to one (excluding the black and white). In such character designs, some elements (the outline) appear transparent and define the body features by contrasting with the solid color elements.
Texture and pattern rich designs: Going to the art side
Character design is certainly great at being functional at conveying concepts and supporting marketing messages. Let’s not forget that character design is also a field to unravel a designer’s artistic potential.
A flat character design illustrated with patterns and textures introduces a more artistic side of character design. Such a style is very popular among editorial designs, book illustrations, as well as a visual identity style for more artistic brands.
Such type of character design is not necessarily focused on facial expressions, nor aiming for realism in body features. In fact, very often such character designs are based on simplistic basic shapes.
However, the distinctive details that make this style artistic and unique, are born from the imagination of the illustrator and puts these character designs at a position between character design and art. This is a style which is very popular for editorial design.
Overexaggerated features: A new level of experimentation
Creating disproportionate characters isn’t anything new to character design. In fact, disproportionate body features with exaggerated elements have been the trump card character designers use to make a character look funny. A big nose, big ears, bulky arms combined with tiny legs… All of these illustrative tactics have been applied to character designs for many years and still trendy today.
Lately, we are seeing a tendency of making character designs look uncanny and bizarre rather than funny. Weirdly proportioned body features such as small heads and big limbs are one of the newest character design trends.
Illustrators often choose to combine this trend with the popular flat+outline+pattern styles combo in order to create ultra modern character design looks. Such designs are popular for brand visual identities, website designs, editorial designs, and more.
Realistic: The evergreen trend inspired by real life
Character design based on real life never goes out of style. The long-standing aim for achieving more detailed looks makes this trend one of the evergreen ones.
Soft shapes, colors, gradients, and textures that look natural are inherent to this style. Such illustrations are used very often for children book illustrations and movies, as well as brand mascots in the world of business. The character style makes it easy for the viewer to relate to the personage because its appearance imitates real life.
When illustrating in this style, character designers obey the rules of the surrounding real-life world in terms of lights, shadows, volumes, details, proportions, and even colors.
Top Character Design Trends for 2019 [Infographic]
For those of you who’d like to see a quick recap of the character design trends for 2019, check out this cute infographic. You will find all trends inside with just a few highlights for each.
Top Character Design Trends for 2019 [Video]
We like character design trends 2019 so much, so we thought: Why wouldn’t we make a video out of it? Plus, a video is easier to share if you’d like to spread the word.
This short video summarizes all trends with a few bullet points for each and a little animation to jazz up each character. Check it out.
Character design trends in 2019 vary from quite realistic 3D “doll” characters to fully flat and oversimplified geometric characters, from natural shapes, textures and lighting to avant-garde patterns taken straight from the imagination of artists. What a diversification!
If you are into character design and have an opinion on the subject, be welcome to share your thoughts with us in the comments below. See ya!