I actually came across the beginning of the semester, ditched it and now really want to come back to it again: inclusive character design.
What does inclusive mean? How can we achieve it? What is inclusive and what is just insulting and stereotypical? What can you do as a designer to make your illustrations inclusive in a natural way?
How to achieve inclusive character illustrations
What factors are important to consider when you want to create an inclusive character design?
- Body type
- Facial features
- Ethnic hair types
- Non-Western clothing
- Non-traditional family models
- Non-binary gender representation
It might help you to use real photos of real people as an inspiration. Diverse representation and inclusive design is still an area where we need to push ourselves.
Illustrations are a meaningful way to bring abstract ideas into something tangible. With illustrations you can visualize stories, ideas, concepts in a creative way so they stand out. Illustrating people needs to have a bit more thought into it than illustrating objects. How you illustrate people will tell a lot about your company, brand, mindset etc and how people see your organization.
Representing diversity, multiculturalism, equality and disabilities in illustrations is a fundamental part of depicting an inclusive identity.
As the illustration style of a person is more refined with details such as facial features, skin tones, hair colours, accessories and clothes, the more accurate diversity is represented. Subsequently, when an illustration has less details there is less accuracy of representation.
In order for those illustrations to be good and authentic we must question our internal assumptions and biases. “Diversity in illustration doesn’t just mean changing a skin colour or adding cultural features but also challenging the ‘default’ pre-assumed biases we have.“
The idea of „deafault” is really affecting our judgement of an illustration. For example, when we think of a scientist, we may default think that a scientist may be a Caucasian older man, or that a teacher is a middle-aged woman.
This article says:
„We can challenge these pre-assumed biases by putting underrepresented groups of people into positions of power in our illustrations. For example, challenge the idea that teachers are just women by choosing illustrations or illustrating a teacher as a man of colour with hearing aids or with a prosthetic. Illustrations should reflect our reality, and that is that the world is diverse, multiculturalism is the norm, and people around us may have disabilities too.“
Furthermore, it is also important not to fall for stereotypes when illustrating. While it’s important to equip your character with enough features in order for it to be distinctive enough, there is a thin line between respectful representation and disrespectful stereotypes.
Hand, L. (2020). Leading Hand. Retrieved from DIVERSITY AND DISABILITY IN ILLUSTRATIONS: PART 1: https://www.leadinghand.com.au/insights/diversity-and-disability-in-illustrations-part-1/
Dockendorf, A. (n.d.). Lemonly. Retrieved from CREATIVE WORKSHOP: INCLUSIVE CHARACTER DESIGN: https://lemonly.com/blog/inclusive-character-design