10 Awesome, Contemporary Character Designs

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Characters live amongst us — in graffiti, as vinyl dolls, as commercial identity icons and almost everywhere. A character communicates content without actually saying a word. We can see the use of characters in advertising, consumerism and in contemporary art growing more and more important and diverse.

In this post I’m presenting 10 examples of breathtaking contemporary character design with excellent use of colors, visual elements, proportions and texture.

Go Characters!

  • Gaston Caba1
    Gaston Caba is a famous illustrator from Buenos Aires, Argentina. These 2 guys are original mascot designs for the Adidas Original Diesel Denim launch party in Shanghai.

    Gaston Caba2

  • Eyeport3
    Eyeport is Lee Hasler, an illustrator from Great Britain. Eyeport illustrates uncanny isometric characters with unique style and strong colors.

    Eyeport4

  • The Beast is Back5
    The beast is Christopher Lee from the US. The beast has a super cool method of adding volume to characters thus breathing life into them.

    The Beast is Back6

  • Christian Montenegro7
    Christian Montenegro is worldwide famous for his breathtaking visual language. He published a stunning book called “The Creation” (a must buy!) and he works with magazines from all over the world.

    Christian Montenegro8

  • Mar Hernández9
    Mar Hernández aka malota is a young artist from Spain. Her works are filled with brilliant characters – don’t miss the Greenville short in her portfolio.

    mar hernández10

  • KHUAN+KTRON
    KHUAN+KTRON are two super talented designers from Belgium. Their work revolves around drawing up a universal iconographic language system.

    KHUAN+KTRON

  • Parquerama11
    Matias Vigliano is a part of Doma collective12. He designs plush and vinyl dolls, limited edition posters, books and more…

    Parquerama13

  • Eugene and Louise bakery14
    Eugene and Louise bakery is dreams come true, a bakery filled with characters made from chocolate, marzipan, cupcakes and milk.

    Eugene and Louise bakery15

  • Meomi16
    MEOMI is Vicki Wong (Vancouver) and Michael Murphy (LA). Meomy are the authors and illustrators of the Octonauts children’s books series and the mascots for the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

    MeomiL17

  • Colorblok18
    Colorblok is a company directed by Juliana Pedemonte. Colorblock are into character and motion graphic design for various clients such as MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon.

    Colorblok19

About the author

Hagit Hashimshony is a well known designer from Tel Aviv Israel and the founder of Tea Party Studio20. Hagit specializes in pre-production for animation, illustration and art direction. She believes in solving the world’s problems through simple and clean design.
Write me…21

Editor’s note

This post is one of the finalists of our guest author contest22. Over three weeks selected top-10-lists and discussion articles will be published. To rate the articles we’ll analyze their popularity, users activity, quality of backlinks, traffic and further data.


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  1. 1

    Yeah, bot bad!

    0
  2. 2

    good post, didn’t get the usual feel though

    1
  3. 3

    Well, it didnt do anything for me.

    1
  4. 4

    The problem I Have with a lot of the illustrators featured is that they all follow a very similar style – flat-looking characters chiefly made up from simple geometric primitives. This is a popular style, I understand that, but they have zero personality. A standalone illustration should leap off the page (screen?) at the viewer, and I just don’t get that from the majority of the examples above.

    1
  5. 5

    I have the same impression, Mike, however, it’s a Good, well-done top-ten article.

    0
  6. 6

    Why put it in monday inspiration.. when its Thursday?

    XD

    0
  7. 7

    to su pekne ujete xichty napicu nepaci sa mi ani ciara (clue – critics in slovak lang) … (is the same like this characters without better communication and that simplicity base is really boring without any progress)

    0
  8. 8

    Why do all “characters” look the same nowadays? They’ve all got the uniform “designer toy” look.

    and what the hell is a “character” anyway?!

    0
  9. 9

    Guys

    I know its called Smashing Magazine and your whole mantra is to smash us with content.

    But your taking it too far.

    You are posting too much too often.

    The hook for me of your site is I check it every now and then and am totally blown away by posts that must have taken days if not weeks to research and execute. This post may have taken days or weeks to research and execute but thats not my takeaway from reading it.

    It is as if you guys are selling out.

    I will stay subscribed to RSS and be enticed to click on your ads every now and then but in conclusion I am not entirely happy with your new post post post post mantra and wanted to tell you. I consider that done. Cool.

    Winston
    1 of your thousands of number 1 fans.

    0
  10. 10

    Apart from the set made of cake – mmmm cake – it’s pretty high on the ‘yeah, and?’ scale.

    0
  11. 11

    I’ve noticed way too many critical comments on smashing as of late, its starting to get annoying. @ #10 its for a CONTEST. If you actually read the updates for this site you would know that. Jesus Christ.

    0
  12. 12

    Yeah Daniel but these are meant to be the people who won, this is hardly anything great. As far as “awesome character designs”…well I personally didn’t like any but that is my opinion.

    0
  13. 13

    Posts quality on smashing magazine is decreasing :(
    I unsubscribed from the feeds… been following for more than a year!
    Bye

    0
  14. 14

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    August 14, 2008 3:20 am

    @Ellie (#14) and @all: the post frequency will get back to normal next week, please read the articles carefully, this week we present the results of our guest author contest.

    0
  15. 15

    Ok… but juvenile… :-/

    0
  16. 16

    Not ‘awesome’ per se, but it was a decent article in any case. Average vote from me.

    0
  17. 17

    as for personal taste, i only really loved 3 of the design characters above–with SM posts, i typically love 8 or more. they’re certainly good, high standard characters, but as the author, you’ve got to be selective and really striving to pick the BEST for each spot one through 10.

    and i concur with the previous comments–too many of them were similar in design.

    0
  18. 18

    I’m surprised by all the negative comments. I like having someone round up an overview of contemporary international graphics for me. Whether you feel that today’s artists in this genre are “juvenile” or “breathtaking” is up to each of us to judge, but it’s still good to have the global scene laid out for our review and discussion.

    For me the post is excellent. Whether the genre presented is deep or not, whether the current artists working in this realm are original or not, those are provocative topics for discussion.

    0
  19. 19

    Great post!! I totally love character design!! :D

    0
  20. 20

    Bruce Richardson

    August 14, 2008 5:57 am

    Nice characters…. always liked Christopher Lee’s creations.

    check out customvibe.com for many more characters!

    0
  21. 21

    This article creeped me out. :P

    0
  22. 22

    yea, guys wt happen to you………………….

    0
  23. 23

    I like the visuals, but the commentary is pretty much useless. Every sentence starts with “[So-and-so] is a…”

    The boring prose drove me to scroll through (not read about) the images, and the title of the post is somewhat misleading. What do these illustrations have to do with the subject of the article? This seems more like a collection of “cool illustrators and designers” rather than a top ten list that illuminates how character design actually has an impact on our perception of a product, website, etc.

    0
  24. 24

    @#11

    Yes, it’s for a contest, but this contest has completely taken over Smashing Magazine. I don’t look forward to my visits anymore. I can’t wait for it to be over.

    0
  25. 25

    falta corazoncito
    QuintoH

    0
  26. 26

    Daniel van Ginkel

    August 14, 2008 9:02 am

    Cool pictures but I’m missing a real story. You told us these characters are used and you present 10 exsamples but you do not tell about the specific types or what they are good for and what story’s they tell. Neither how they fit within the style of a brand or company.

    I would like to know more about the originin of these diverse characters aswell as how people come to create a mascotte or character.

    0
  27. 27

    Don’t forget Glitschka characters. From sites Artbackwash or Vonster. A lot of!

    0
  28. 28

    Hagit! This girl is awesome! Check out her winning design on Threadless! :)

    0
  29. 29

    NaldzGraphics.com

    August 14, 2008 6:15 pm

    i love KHUAN+KTRON works:)great list.

    0
  30. 30

    Am I the only one who sees the phallic implications in some of these pics?
    - Mar Hernández
    - Parquerama (the arms!)
    - Eugene and Louise bakery
    And a bit of a stretch, but…
    - Colorblok

    0
  31. 31

    Speaking of great new character designs, you guys should check this game out.

    It’s called Head’s Rush and can be found on newgrounds.

    These were originally oil paintings that were converted into game sprites. The paintings themselves are really stunning, but with the additional animation added by the programmers its like nothing I’ve ever seen.

    As an additional note, the artist’s name is Kelly Furr and she has some of her other work on her website.

    0
  32. 32

    Keep posting as often as you want guys.

    Not everyone is going to love every post – but I’d say that 95% of your posts (this one included) are brilliant!

    0
  33. 33

    I’m not a fan of any of these styles at all. But then again, if you saw my artwork, you’d know why.

    0
  34. 34

    There is someone talking to me about a video player?!!?!
    Nice post btw. Not my style though

    0
  35. 35

    Its all the same nowdays, nothing new :( and I wonder, why does ppl like this ctrl+c ctrl+v stile. Maybe it takes longer to make those pieces, but in the end its all the same “cool “new” look”.

    0
  36. 36

    the words that got linked out in my post were…

    Head’s Rush
    Oil Paintings
    Kelly Furr
    and her Website

    hopefully that clears up some confusion to all the link[www.kellyfurr.com] stuff

    0
  37. 37

    “awsome” seems a bit high-dropped. good idea(s), but not different enough.

    0
  38. 38

    I would expect a top ten to be more diverse. This is a very subjective post, I get more of a feel for the author’s taste than anything else

    0
  39. 39

    No energy. Blah. Cookie cutter lacks personality or individuality.

    0
  40. 40

    Meh, I don’t really like these kind of character designs. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but this new trend of making quirky, out-of-this-world and bizarre alien-like characters is irksome. I just can’t relate to them.

    0
  41. 41

    @ Ben #31 — Yes, I noticed it too! At least in the work of KHUAN+KTRON and Parquerama (pierced, even!). I didn’t originally see it in Mar Hernández’ work, but you’re right — it’s there.

    0
  42. 42

    hmm,
    i really don’t know.
    ok in the first place cute, but on the long hand, there are way better examples of characters out there, never the less there is one or two i haven’t already seen yet.
    kepp on!

    0
  43. 43

    all SUCKS!

    0
  44. 44

    I L O V E Christian Montenegro!

    0

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