There’s no formula for how to design the perfect character: instead, it’s a mix of luck, skill and judgement. But there are some tips and tricks that can make the process simpler. In this tutorial, character design maven Paul Shih sheds some light on how he comes up with his distinctive style of menacing-yet-adorable figures.

You’ll also learn how to draw in Flash – which has a unique drawing system that Paul believes suits this style perfectly. You’ll start with a basic Line tool and, with a little help from the Align tool, you’ll build a geometrically perfect character. You’ll also learn to manage layers in Flash to ease the editing process, and will end up with a pop cartoon-style still image. Best of all, as you’re already in Flash it’s simple to go on and animate your figure straight away.

Step 1 When you design a character, it’s important to understand your brief or direction. In this case, we’re going to design a heavy metal character in the style of Hollow Threat (Paul’s latest character range). Start by gathering some reference materials and ideas – try gigs, MySpace and so on.