[Blacklight]: Good evening, everyone! Today, I’m going to teach you all a little bit about how to create your very own original Sonic character. Feel free to follow along at home. By the time we’re done here, you’re going to have a character that can compete with the best of them. Are we all ready?
[Blacklight]: Well then, let’s get started. You might be thinking that you should start with a character’s backstory, or personality, but that would be incorrect! Species is king when it comes to Sonic OCs, which means that you need to choose your species first and foremost! Remember, your OC will be frowned upon if it’s of a species that doesn’t already exist in the Sonic world, so for today’s example, we’ll be going with a Hedgehog.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Didn’t you just say that there are too many Hedgehog characters on the Internet?
[Blacklight]: I was talking about self-inserts, that’s a completely different thing! Anyways, if you’re looking to be really daring, you might instead go for Fox or Echidna.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Wouldn’t an Echidna be canon-breaking?
[Blacklight]: (gritting teeth) I already said that backstory comes later! *clears throat* So, with that out of the way, we can then move to backstory and personality. These two factors are highly interrelated, so it’s important to consider both of them at once.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) I suppose that’s…halfway decent advice…
[Blacklight]: Viewers become disinterested in fan-created content very quickly, so it’s important shove your character as deeply into Sonic canon as possible. Your character might be a long lost sibling of a popular canon character, or perhaps an important inhabitant of an established dimension or timeline. It’s important to give this character a role that will provide for engaging interactions with the rest of the Sonic cast. Even better if they already know someone important!
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Well…as much as I hate to admit it, that is true to a certain extent. There’s no reason you can’t make an “average joe” type of character, but if they don’t add anything to the Sonic cast, then there’s not much point in including them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be of vital importance to Sonic lore,or that they have to have a history with existing characters when you can just build them up from the present—
[Blacklight]: That’s enough from the peanut gallery! This my workshop, not yours. Now, as I was saying, I’m thinking that our example character is…the son of Silver the Hedgehog from an even more distant future. That should get the interest in this character going pretty quickly, and leaves an element of mystery for viewers to digest. Now, just as important as where your character is from is what your character has experienced. Tragedy is king.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) I thought species was king…
[Blacklight]: The more tragic your character’s backstory is, the more sympathetic your viewers will be towards him. A character who hasn’t experienced tragedy is simply unrelatable. And that’s where we get to personality. How has this character’s tragic past influenced how they behave today? The right tragedy can be a motivator for hatred, for heroism, or for insanity. I’m thinking that our example character…was forced to face off against his father in a battle for control over the post-apocalyptic future in which they live. You see, Silver had been driven mad by his inability to fix his timeline, and so, in the end, his son was forced to kill him.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Wait…what? You’re just going to kill Silver? Just like that?
[Blacklight]: I don’t like Silver. Anyways, this scarring tragedy on our character’s life has haunted him ever since. He would wish to undo his mistake, but he doesn’t believe that it’s possible. So he walks the line between good and evil, hoping for a better world, but fighting solely for his own power. And that’s the end of his story!
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) The end? What about character development? What about growth?
[Blacklight]: Unnecessary details. Now, we get ot the icing on the cake. The powers.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Not every Sonic character needs to have powers.
[Blacklight]: But all of the interesting ones do. Now, you don’t want your OC losing a bunch of fights, because that’s boring for the audience. For that reason, you need to make sure your character has the right powers to win in every situation. You might start with a basic set shared by another Sonic character, then just pile some more on top of it! Maybe even combine a few!
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) You know, this whole segment was almost salvageable before…
[Blacklight]: Since our character is the son of Silver, he should naturally start off sharing his ESP powers—more raw and untamed by his rage, of course. But I’m thinking that I also want to give him…healing powers. He can tear a person apart, then put them back together again. A nice little bit of duality there.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Is there any particular reason he would have those powers…?
[Blacklight]: To make his backstory more tragic, of course. Although he tried, he just couldn’t control his powers well enough to save his father’s life.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) I meant…nevermind…
[Blacklight]: I’ve gone pretty subtle here, but don’t be afraid to go all out with your character’s powers! You can throw in as many as you can think of, and you can always add more if you need to later! Characters who fight by hurling entire galaxies at one another make for some of the most exciting fights in fiction history!
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) I…I don’t even…
[Blacklight]: Now that we have a character, it’s time for a name! Lots of people like to name their characters before anything else, and that leads to swarms of fan characters with boring human names that have no meaning. We can do better. The name of a Sonic character should be short and memorable—aim for two syllables if you can—and it should tell your viewers just a little bit about who that character is. Describing that character’s powers using their name is typically a pretty safe way to go. So let’s call our character…Lackblight the Hedgehog.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Why would you name him after yourself when he has nothing to do with you?
[Blacklight]: Because it’s a clever pun! Now, finally, we’re at the part we’ve all been waiting for! We get to design our character! I highly recommend Microsoft Paint, or your operating system’s equivalent default painting program, for this exercise.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) You might try pencil and paper instead…
[Blacklight]: Start by searching online for official art of whatever Sonic character you want to use as a baseline for designing your own. Sonic himself has lots of different artworks in almost every pose you can imagine, so that might be a good place to start. Since Lackblight is Silver’s son, I’ll be going with Silver. Go ahead and copy-paste that baby into Paint.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Please don’t recolor it… Please don’t recolor it…
[Blacklight]: Now, we’re going to start recoloring the artwork! I’ve found out that the paint bucket tool doesn’t work very well, so you’ll have to brush your new color in by hand. And don’t worry too much about drawing outside the lines. We can always draw those back in later, and the blemishes might even inspire some identifying features for the character. All Sonic characters have one primary fur color, so focus on that first. I’m thinking that Lackblight is…orange.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Any particular reason for that color choice…?
[Blacklight]: Because it’s a creative color that not a lot of other Sonic characters have!
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) No, I meant… Ugghhhhhhh…
[Blacklight]: As I was saying, you need to make sure that your character is unique and interesting. No two Sonic characters tend to have quite the same spike patterns on their heads, so you might consider drawing in some extra ones, or else erasing what’s already there and drawing in some new ones from scratch. I, of course, will not be touching these, because of the familial connection. I will, however, be using the “rectangular marquee” tool to shorten Lackblight’s body and legs a bit, to make him look younger.
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Is that it? Are you done now?
[Blacklight]: Nope! Pro tip to all you viewers following along at home. Your character still sucks. Remember that thing I said earlier about people losing interest quickly? Well, that applies to visuals as well. You really want to catch people’s attention with your character design, which means adding lots of bright, contrasting, neon highlighting colors all over your character. Fit them in wherever you can! Gloves, shoes, clothing, streaks in the fur, go ahead and choose a different color for each one!
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) No, no, stop it! Just cut it out already! You can’t show this thing to the public! You’re embarrassing us both! What are you trying to accomplish here!?
[Blacklight]: … … …I… …I… …I was just trying to show everyone what you did when you wrote my character…
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) …You…wh… …no, you’re not, you’re not just some poorly thought out recolor, you’re—
[Blacklight]: Oh, I’m not a recolor, am I? Am I really!? Do I need to show them the artwork?
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) What artwork?
[Blacklight]: The one you cropped to put up there!? That so-called “fan art” you were so proud of!?
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) No, that really won’t be—
[Blacklight]: Well here it is!
[Blacklight]: Not just a recolor, really? You literally recolored a Shadow you were already working on to make that image. You didn’t even redraw the gloves!
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Give me a break, I had to put this event together on really short notice. And getting a convincing wink out of a freaky conjoined Sonic eye is a lot harder than it sounds. Besides, at least I made that Shadow from scratch on a vector image software. You should never publish official art that you’ve drawn over and expect it to be taken seriously!
[Blacklight]: Oh, and you expect me to believe that you’ve never drawn over an official Shadow to make art of me before?
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) That’s not the point! What I’m trying to tell you is that you were made with a purpose. You exist in a state of metacommentary. Yes, your physical appearance is identical to Shadow’s, but that’s as true in-universe as it is out here! You own the fact that you’re a recolor! It’s a part of your character! It draws attention right into your ridiculous personality, and it makes people laugh!
[Blacklight]: So…you’re saying that I’m just a joke?
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) I’m saying that you’re funny, because there are jokes built into the very essence of your character. That’s what you want, isn’t it? To make people laugh? That’s why you wanted to host this show in the first place!
[Blacklight]: Yeah, I…I guess I never thought of it that way… So what does that mean in terms of…smart practice in designing an OC?
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Well, surprisingly, a lot of your advice was heading in the right direction, even if your reasoning was a bit misguided. A character needs to have a purpose. They need to add something to the world and to the cast that couldn’t easily exist without them. And everything about them, from their backstory to their design, should revolve around that purpose. Even I didn’t fully understand that when I started writing The Chaos Project. But somehow, I ended up making a pretty awesome character anyways.
[Blacklight]: Do you…really mean that?
[Mr. C]: (offscreen) I do. The seven bright contrasting colors probably weren’t my brightest idea, though…
[Shadow]: (on laptop) He’s lying. Just inflating your ego so you don’t take revenge on him for ruining your workshop once the cameras cut.
[Blacklight]: Save your opinion for someone who cares. You chose not to participate here.