On "unique" characters (or: Interesting Fursonas/OC's Without Looking Like You're Trying Too Hard)

Discussion in 'Fursona Discussion' started by TheRealKingKoopa, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. TheRealKingKoopa

    TheRealKingKoopa Pixel Junkie

    I've seen a few people, on a few different websites, say that they're worried their fursona isn't unique or distinctive or interesting enough. Invariably the responses are "don't pile on details, that's how sparkledogs happen, focus on personality" – but I want to give a slightly more in-depth, slightly more comprehensive answer to anybody who has concerns about how interesting their OC's are. So, welcome to How to Make Interesting and Unique Furry Characters Without Looking Like You're Trying Too Hard!

    ...Or something to that effect. It's a clumsy title, but it's communicative.

    A quick primer.

    These are guidelines. Suggestions. They're not rules. I'm not telling you that you shouldn't create a fox/wolf/GSD/husky as your fursona, I'm just saying that exploring other options might help make it better. I'm willing to bet that someone skilled enough can break all of these guidelines and still create an awesome character. It's just something to think about when you're creating your characters.

    Try a slightly unusual species.

    Unusual in this case meaning underrepresented in the furry fandom – lord knows there are enough snow leopards in furry art despite their real-life rarity. You could even just have an underrepresented subspecies of something common in the fandom – cougars and panthers are reasonably popular, but the latest image of a Florida panther on FA at the time of writing is from 2013. If somebody appeared with a Florida panther fursona, it would definitely pique my interest.

    Instead of giving them a unique combination of traits, make the individual traits unique.

    Let's make a fairly stereotypical fursona: a gay arctic fox with some sort of abstract rainbow markings, heterochromia, wings, and the ability to shapeshift. I doubt anyone has made a character to that exact description, but I've seen all of those individual things a ton on other characters (although maybe not the shapeshifting one; it's less common, but I just have a thing for shapeshifters). Instead of shapeshifting, maybe this guy can have a magic glove that can summon some ancient spirit that takes on the form of a number of different feral animals. It's tangentially related but also something I've never seen before. And we'll ditch the heterochromia and wings (more on that later) and instead, maybe he can have markings that change color depending on his mood. It's corny as fuck and I personally wouldn't include it in any OC I would take seriously, but I don't see color-changing characters all that much, and it's at least better than rainbows.

    That's enough, I think. Any more and we start venturing into sparkledog territory. And see what we've done? We have two major, defining traits – two! – one visual, in the form of the color-changing markings, and one conceptual, in the form of the spirit-summoning glove – and that's as much stuff as we can safely cram into this guy. He can still be gay and he can still be an arctic fox, but those are less important traits; you can change them without affecting the stuff that makes him stand out.

    Don't make the extraordinary mundane.

    I've found the most egregious offenders of this to be in the Sonic fandom. Tails' primary visual trait is that he has two tails, and I will strangle somebody if I see one more fox OC in a Sonic fanfiction who inexplicably has two tails as well and no one seems to think much of it. Or the thankfully-small handful of OC's I've seen whose description includes “super speed, super strength, chaos control, immortal, can fly, pyrokinesis, telekinesis...” like motherfucker you have just taken every extraordinary trait from almost every canon character and stuffed them into one character AND NOW THEY'RE ALL BORING.

    I may have gotten a little carried away there. But my point still stands that if you treat these exceptional things like they're no big deal, they stop being interesting. I see this manifest in the furry fandom pretty often in the form of heterochromia and wings – the two things that we took off of the character we just created. In reality, complete heterochromia is extremely rare and should be treated as such – although “sectoral” heterochromia is slightly less rare and can look really fucking cool and I wish more people knew about it. And as for wings, well, that's a defining trait of birds, bats, dragons, and a number of other species. If you put wings on a fox with no explanation, it just kinda leaves me thinking, why? If the guy wanted his fursona to be able to fly that badly, why not make him a bird or a bat or a dragon or something to that effect? If the wings are just to look badass I can respect that, but it should at least be treated as being a really integral part of the character's design, not just “oh yeah, and he has wings as well.”

    So what about everything else? After all, I never touched upon personality or backstory or any of that. Well... just do it as if you're making a human character, and there's far more stuff on the internet about that, written by people who are far better writers than I am; in which case, here's a good jumping-off point for that, if you're still in the mood for reading walls of text. I'm just talking about things that specifically pertain to the furry fandom.

    To summarize:
    • Having an underrepresented species is a quick & easy way to stand out.
    • A unique color scheme, wings, heterochromia, etc. are NOT good ways to bring about uniqueness – rather, base your character off of very few, very interesting traits.
    • If your character has something extraordinary about them, make sure to treat it as such, otherwise it just becomes kinda pointless.
    • Personality- and backstory-wise, with a few exceptions, your character will be indistinguishable from a human.


    Whew. That got kinda long. I hope somebody actually made it through all of that.
    Simo likes this.
  2. Simo

    Simo Skunk

    I'm Simo the Skunk, just a little 'ol black and white striped fella, and I endorse the above message!

    I like the idea of a slightly unusual species, or a species that might be usual in the wild, but unusual in terms of fursonas: Skunks are very common, but I have seen next to zero, here, as with even raccoons and weasels, or most smaller woodland critters.

    Also, I like certain exotic species, the Fossa is my alternate fursona...

    Myself, I have always stuck to a basic animal, typical markings, and let the personality/backstory, and maybe the clothes (if any), do the heavy lifting, to make things stand out.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  3. Renven

    Renven Member

    except for the very last part about the color scheme, my friend's 'sona that i wrote for him fits that pretty well. he just kinda went all in on the looks (BTW i follow that guide because i like to have a frame of reference). docs.google.com: Magnis
  4. -Praydeth-

    -Praydeth- The Trickster coyote.

    (still waiting on it to be finished drawing)

    But I created a story first then the fursona. But then I looked into native american mythology & found how coyotes were depicted over all these different stories. I saw lots of similarities between the depiction of coyotes in their mythology & my personality. So I decided ill be a coyote & ill have him merged with my character I created a short story for.
  5. MadKiyo

    MadKiyo Villainous Fly

    I do like a good unusual species of fursona. I sometimes find things I didn't know existed.
  6. nerdbat

    nerdbat Green butt of reason

    In general, just reading a couple of books or courses on good character design, as well as dig around some artists who primarly specialize at designing characters (JKN159 is my personal pick, crapton of inventive stuff in her fantasy girls gallery). Some stuff I can agree with OP, some I disagree, but in reality, there's tons of info on making interesting and unique characters you can find on the Internet.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  7. Kipekee Reddington

    Kipekee Reddington All American Flying Foxdog

    Good post! It deserves a sticky if you ask me.

    I've been having this exact problem with my main sona lately. She's good for the most part, I put lots of thought into her concept & design, but she needs one more thing to stand out more that matches her personality.

    I made a thread of it on here, you sound like you could be of some good help :D

    Once again, great post!

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