The Art of Character Creation for Voice Actors | WhisperRoom™

The Art of Character Creation for Voice Actors

By: WhisperRoom™

February 15, 2023

An image of clip art heads that is meant to display the art of character creation for VO.

In the field of voice acting, one of the most important skills you can develop is the ability to create believable characters. Whether you are voicing an animated movie, a video game, or a commercial, the success of your performance will depend on your ability to bring characters to life with your voice.

American screenwriter Bob Gale once said, “The three things that matter most in a story are characters, characters, and characters.”

Key Strategies for Developing Character Voices

When it comes to character creation in voice acting, the key is to create a fully-realized, three-dimensional character, not just a convincing voice or accent. Here are five effective strategies for developing character voices: First, experiment with various vocal ranges, trying higher or lower pitches than your natural voice. Second, play with inflections and accents to alter your delivery style. Third, enhance your vocal performance by using gestures that express the emotions and attitudes of your character. Fourth, listen to and mimic the vocal patterns of people around you. Lastly, practice consistently to gain confidence in characterizing voices.

Beyond this, it’s also crucial to create a backstory for your character, drawing inspiration from real people, fictional characters, and personal experiences, and to fully commit to the character’s voice throughout your performance. By employing these strategies, voice actors can bring characters to life, making them more believable and engaging. 

So, what exactly does it mean to create a believable character? It’s not just about finding the right voice or accent – it’s about developing a character that is three-dimensional, with a backstory, personality traits, and motivations that inform the way they speak and interact with the world around them. When you create a truly believable character, you can draw your audience in and keep them engaged with the story you’re telling.

Creating Believable Characters: The Next Level of Voice Acting

Creating believable characters sets great voice actors apart from mediocre ones. Anyone can do a funny voice or a convincing accent, but it takes real skill to create a character that feels like a fully-realized person. When you are able to do that, you can bring an extra layer of depth and emotion to your performances.

Character creation is an essential skill for any voice actor looking to take their performance to the next level. With the right techniques and strategies, you can create characters that are both believable and memorable. This will bring your performance to life! Let’s dig into this topic.

Developing Character Voices

One of the most important skills for any voice actor to develop is the ability to find a character’s voice – the unique way that a character speaks that helps bring them to life. When you’re able to find the right voice for a character, you can make them feel more real and engaging to your audience.

How can you discover a character’s voice? Here are 5 tips to get you started:

1. Experiment with Different Vocal Ranges

Try speaking in a higher or lower pitch than your natural speaking voice to see how it changes the way you sound.

2. Play with Inflections and Accents

Speak with different rhythms, stresses, and tonal patterns to see how it affects your delivery.

3. Use Gestures to Enhance Your Vocal Performance

Move your body and use hand gestures to express the emotions and attitudes of your character.

4. Listen to the World Around You

Pay attention to how people in your everyday life speak, and see if you can adapt some of their vocal patterns to your characters.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice…

The more you experiment with different voices and delivery styles, the more confident you’ll become in finding the perfect voice for each character.

Improve Your Voice made this excellent video about creating new voices.

Once you’ve found a character’s voice, it’s important to commit to it fully. Make sure you’re consistent with your delivery throughout the performance, so your audience can easily recognize and connect with the character. Don’t be afraid to play around and try new things – the more you practice, the better you’ll become at finding the perfect voice for every character.

Creating a Backstory for Your Characters

As a voice actor, your job is to bring characters to life with your voice. But what if you could take your performances to the next level by adding more depth and nuance to your characters? That’s where a backstory comes in.

By creating a backstory for your character, you can give them a history, personality traits, and motivations that inform the way they speak and interact with others. This can add a layer of complexity to your performance that draws your audience in and makes your character feel more believable and engaging.

Here are a few examples of the kind of details you should include in a character’s backstory:

1. Family History

Where did the character grow up? What was their family like? What kind of relationships did they have with their parents, siblings, or other relatives? These details can provide valuable insights into your character’s upbringing and the way they interact with others.

2. Career or Life Goals

What does the character want out of life? Do they have ambitions and dreams? What obstacles are standing in their way? Knowing what your character is striving for can help you shape their motivations and the way they approach challenges in the story.

3. Personality Traits

Is the character shy or outgoing? Confident or insecure? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What kind of experiences has shaped their personality? This can help you understand how your character might behave in different situations and the way they communicate with others

4. Past Experiences

Has the character faced any significant challenges or traumas in the past? How have those experiences shaped who they are today? Understanding your character’s past can help you convey their emotional depth and add complexity to their vocal performance.

An info graph that gives 4 tips to include in a character's backstory when working on character creation.

Once you’ve created a backstory for your character, you can use it to inform your voice. For example, if your character has experienced trauma, you might use a more subdued, hesitant tone of voice to convey their emotional pain. Or, if your character is ambitious and driven, you might use a more assertive, confident tone of voice to convey their determination.

Finding Inspiration for Your Characters

One of the most important parts of character creation is finding inspiration. Whether you’re creating a brand new character or bringing an existing one to life, there are a variety of sources you can draw from to create a believable and engaging performance.

Here are some ideas to consider:

1. Real People

You can draw inspiration from the people around you, whether they’re friends, family, or strangers. Pay attention to their speech patterns, mannerisms, and quirks, and think about how you might incorporate those into your character.

2. Fictional Characters

You can also look to existing fictional characters for inspiration. Think about characters from movies, TV shows, books, or video games that you admire, and try to integrate elements of their personalities or voices into your own character.

3. Personal Experiences

Your own life experiences can also be a great source of inspiration. Think about moments that have had a strong emotional impact on you, and consider how you might use those emotions to inform your character’s backstory and personality.

Of course, it’s important to adapt your inspiration to fit the specific needs of the project or script you’re working on. You might need to adjust your character’s voice or personality to fit the tone of the project or the expectations of your client. Keep an open mind and be willing to make changes as necessary to create a character that works well within the context of the project.

An info graph that gives 3 tips for finding inspiration for your characters when working on character creation.

It’s also important to avoid relying on stereotypes or cliches when creating your character. Instead, strive to create an original character with unique traits. This will make your character feel more authentic and relatable to your audience, and help you stand out as a voice actor.

Bring Characters to Life

In voice acting, staying committed to your character’s voice and backstory is crucial. This means not only finding the right vocal range, inflection, and accent, but also understanding your character’s motivations, goals, and experiences. By fully embodying your character, you can bring them to life and make them feel real and relatable to your audience.

It’s important to establish a consistent voice and tone for your character and stick to it throughout the recording process. This means practicing your character’s voice and getting comfortable with their mannerisms and speech patterns. It also means staying focused on your character’s emotional state and motivations, even when you’re not speaking.

A tip for staying in character is to use physicality and gestures to enhance your vocal performance. You can create a more authentic and dynamic performance by using your body to convey your character’s emotions and movements. This might involve standing up, using hand gestures, or even making facial expressions as you speak.

It’s also important to actively listen to feedback from the director or producer. This means being open to suggestions and willing to improvise based on their feedback. For example, if the director suggests that your character should sound more assertive, you might adjust your vocal inflection or pacing to get that emotion.

Final Thoughts

Voice acting is an incredibly rewarding and challenging art form, and character creation is a key part of bringing a script to life. It is important to always be exploring and experimenting with different techniques for creating and developing characters.

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