What is a character sheet? In simplest terms, a character sheet is a sheet for a character. However, there’s a lot more to the term than just that. We’re going to look at character sheet examples from Dungeons & Dragons to animation storyboards to see how artists across disciplines use them. By the end, you’ll be ready to make your own.
Character Chart Template
The character info sheet explained
Designing a character is one of the most exciting parts in writing. This process is done in a variety of mediums but the purpose is always the same. Specifically, when you need to put your character down on paper before you start writing a novel, playing a tabletop game, or pitching a TV show.
This is the benefit of the character profile sheet — to pre-plan your characters from the ground up. So, let's quickly define the character information sheet. After that, we'll look at some examples and how it works in various mediums.
CHARACTER SHEET DEFINITION
What is a character sheet?
A character sheet is a physical or digital manifesto where character details are displayed in visual/text form. Character sheets are used in tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons to keep track of stats, traits, and more. These documents can also be referred to as a character chart, character information sheet, or a character profile. They’re also used by writers to help define the look and feel of characters, especially as part of pitches.
Character Profile Template Items:
- Character name
- Physical characteristics
- Values for experience, abilities, health
Character Profile Templates
Dungeons & Dragons character sheets
Character sheets are used in the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons to keep track of player stats, traits, inventory and more.
Making a character chart may seem like an indomitable task – but it doesn’t need to be! This next video from the Dungeons & Dragons YouTube channel shows how to make a character sheet, from start to finish.
Now that you know HOW to make a D&D character chart, you’re probably wondering, “wait, where IS the character sheet?” Good question!Copy and paste the official character sheet template below and cross-reference it with the Dungeons & Dragons Player Handbook; available for purchase or (probably) at your local library.
Dungeons & Dragons has been a major force in the creative arts for nearly fifty years; so much so that its character profiles have transcended their utility form to be used in other mediums.
Let’s check out a couple of examples!
Did You Know?
The Library of Congress made an auditory version of the Dungeons & Dragons Player Handbook for the blind and physically handicapped.
Character Sheet for Writers
How writers use character sheets
Writers use character charts for a variety of reasons. Here are a couple industries where character sheets are used uniquely:
Character profiles are used in animation/video games to show expressive details about characters. This undertaking is almost exclusively done in the pre-production phase.
Here’s an example from developer Naughty Dog’s The Art of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Here, we see concept art, motion-captured face scans, animation poses, and fully-rendered character models for the game’s protagonist:
In actuality, these assets were probably presented one-by-one during pre-production. But it’s still cool to see them all put together in one sheet.
Want to learn more about animation/comic character profile sheets? Check out this next video from Whyt Manga.
Drawn character profiles primarily serve to show the expressive details of a character. If you’re considering making a drawn character sheet, focus on the details that make the character unique!
Character sheets are sometimes used in the pre-production stage of live-action movie projects. For example, a production company may pitch a movie to a financier with corresponding character charts.
Say I’m pitching a movie about a cowboy: His character description says “Late 40s/Early 50s, long-hair, gruff, etc.”
In this case, I may attach a photo of Matthew McConaughey to help financiers visualize what the character might look like.
Of course, I’d also have the intent of casting McConaughey for the project. Depending on the size of the production, producers may also pitch to actors/financiers with original artwork.
Character harts help everybody organize the look and feel of characters. There’s no right or wrong time to use these sheets. So if you think it’ll help get your point across, by all means go ahead and design a character sheet!
What is Character Design?
Character sheets are the perfect place to display a great character design – but what is character design? And how do you build great characters? In our next article, we answer those questions by looking at examples from Nickelodeon, Pixar, and more. By the end, you’ll have all the tools you need to add a great character design to your character sheet.