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First of all, I freely admit that what I say isn't gospel. I am a total amateur at art and writing. I've learned everything that I know via the internet and a few drawing books. It's just that I appreciate all of the tutorials here on dA that have helped me out, and I want to put a little bit of my own methods back in.

Is your character feeling a little bit stilted?  Do you want to find a way to flesh him out a bit so that he'll be more three-dimensional?  Well, here's an activity to get you started on the right path.

I call this activity Running the Gamut .  

Everyone feels the same feelings.  Everyone feels happy, sad, angry, afraid, in love, etc.  This activity is a little bit like those character info sheets that you may have filled out, but this is different.  You don't have to write your answers down (though it really can't hurt), but you should know these answers really well.  In this activity, I'm going to try to think of as many emotions as I can (to varying degrees) and you should answer what makes a character feel that way.  Give as many answers as you want for each emotion.  

Bring these answers out at dull moments during your story (or to instigate a plot) to get some dimension where you need it (if it's appropriate at that moment in the story).  For instance, I had a character that was too non-confrontational.  He never got too upset over anything, there were no outbursts of emotion.  I found out what made him angry, and I was really surprised to find out what (actually, who in this case) made him furious!  Playing off of that really helped me improve that character by giving him more dimensions to show off.


Happiness

Everyone, including your dark, brooding dude feels happiness.  But about what?  Don't answer "the love of his life," because your character should have sources of happiness beyond their hubby.  What makes your character feel:
  • Mildly content.  Nothing too major, so feel free to make lots of these.  The smell of fresh lasagna?
  • Thrilled/Excited.  This is much bigger and will definitely make him smile and will get him excited and yammering.  Watching and discussing basketball?
  • Squealing fangirl.  Come on, we've all got someone we'd like to stalk and steal the hair from their shower drain.  A band, celebrity, book series, or TV show fits very well here.  It doesn't have to be dignified and can even be embarrassing at times.
  • Admire.  This is less than squealing fangirl.  These are the things that get a nod of acknowledgement from your character.  A good artist?  The creative team begind their favorite video game?
  • Hopeful.  What gives them hope whenever they're so stressed that they want to burn the world down?  A clean bedroom?  A thunderstorm?  Squealing fangirl answers may apply to this, but try to go a bit deeper if you can to mine up some gold.


Discomfort Feelings

This one was harder to name, but you'll get what I mean.  Don't just include things realated to their Big Trauma From The Past.  They felt these things before that too.  Sometimes, your character may feel:
  • Uncomfortably afraid.  Not quite enough to be a fear, but enough to make them really on edge.  For me, it's birds.  Don't ask me why, I don't know...
  • Terror.  THIS is the Big Scary.  Everyone is afraid of things.  Create a rational phobia and an irrational phobia, like fear of being abandoned and a fear of flying on airplanes.  Know what fuels these fears, they're not random!  
  • Horrified.  This is much different then terror.  Think of the feeling you get while watching A Clockwork Orange, that's pretty dead-on accurate for horror.  What makes them sick to their gut to contemplate?  The ever exploding population?  The fact that we're all naked under these thin layers of fabric?  This can be a tough one to nail down, so don't sweat it if you don't get it on your first pass.  
  • Embarassed.  What makes him go red in the face?  Did he wet the bed as a kid? Maybe his squealing fangirl target is embarrassing...
  • Panic.  This is something that isn't a direct fear, but something that incites panic in them.  Being lost?  Talking to strangers?  
  • Awkward.  Everyone's a little bit awkward in some way.  Maybe it's talking to old people.  Maybe it's when they talk to other races, since they're really afraid of being politically incorrect and offending someone.  
  • Disgusted.  As in "That's so gross, I might barf."  Foods are a good thing to put here, but bodily fluids and animals are also another route to look at.  Nature is pretty gross, as are some dirty habits that some people have.


Anger

Oh yeah, here we go!  Time to get the blood up and pumping!  When does your character feel:
  • Irritated.  This is really minor and sometimes funny.  Like when someone forgets to put the toilet seat down and you accidentally sit down without looking.  Ugh.
  • Pissed off.  This is more than irritated and is still pretty funny.  This is if the toilet seat was CONSISTANTLY left up even after you asked your brother to cut it out.  Oh boy, is he gonna get it!
  • Rage.  It is a little bit less funny to watch this one as an audience.  We're actually kinda mad too by this point, like when your toilet-seat-leaving-down brother tells you to go f*** yourself for daring to ask to put the seat down.  Excuse me?  Oh, we're going to have a freaking CHAT.  People leave each other over this level of anger a lot of times.  It's equivalant to anger from disrespect.  **Disgust is often the reaction to this level of rage as in "Your awfulness sickens me to my core."
  • Fury.  This is when angry goes from comical in the story to just plain scary.  This is the kind of anger is white-hot, ugly, unchecked, and uncontrollable. This might seriously end in violence.  Please don't hurt me.

Side note: We hate what cannot understand or cope with.


Sadness

It's time to break out the tissues here.  Try to go further then just their Big Trauma From The Past.  They felt sad before that too.  They've always felt:
  • Regret.  Everyone has and needs regrets.  There are big ones, like "I regret stabbing the guy and leaving my son without a father," and little ones like "I regret yelling at Ryan in 7th grade for stealing my French paper, only to later discover that it was my fault and that I had misplaced it."  PS: I'm really sorry about that, Ryan.  I still feel really, really awful about that. :(
  • Worried.  Who do they worry for?  Is their sister in the military and they fear for her life every day?  Is he afraid that the waitress will mess up his order and bring him clam chowder like she did last time?  Have little worries and big worries.
  • Blue.  This is an off-day for your character.  It's just not their day today, is it?
  • Depressed.  This is the type of thing that is prolonged sadness or grief over a period of time.  Death, a disappointing diagnosis, the baby isn't his, etc.  The direct sadness from this should only linger a few weeks.  Sure, it still hurts after then, but they've begun to heal.  If not, they may be clinically depressed.  Please research the disease and/or have them see a fictional doctor, ok?
  • Teary-eyed.  This stuff isn't serious, but makes you cry.  Think "watching Old Yeller sadness"
  • Bawling.  Bawling isn't a sexy cry.  It's blubbering and snotty and shaking and quivering and just an outpour of huge emotion.  This is "he just dumped me the night before prom" intensity.  Not that it has to be as minor as prom, but it's an explosion of sadness all at once rather than a stretched-out sadness like depression.


The Embarrassing Stuff

These are a bit more miscellaneous, but most are considered negative traits when in excess.  Not all characters will feel like this at every life stage.  They might outgrow some of these.  At what times does your character feel:
  • Confident.  They know what they're doing and aren't worried at all.  Maybe they know that they're super hot.
  • Arrogant.  An excess of confidence.  What they're good at makes them better than you mere mortals.  Look to their achievements for this, but not all characters will directly express feeling this way to another person.  They may not know that they feel this until provoked.  "You dare question my acting skillz?  I've won 17 bajillion freaking Oscars, I know what I'm doing!" Ahhhh, THERE it is.
  • Rebellious.  Woo!  We want to make a change!  Or at least we did when we were teenagers.  Who do we want to take down?  The Establishment or just Mom and Dad?
  • Lustful.  Oh yes.  This is an uncomfortable topic right here that may be best suited to address in another tutorial.  What turns your character on and off?  Blonde hair?  A nice bottom?  Smexy glasses? Fetish?  Look, I know this is weird.  I'm sorry.  But your characters are human (or emote as a human does).  And humans have... needs.  Note: ONLY FOR CHARACTERS 13 AND UP!
  • Self-loathing/misgivings.  When did they do something that they KNEW was wrong?  What do they hate themselves for?  Closely related to guilt.

So, that's all that I have for now!  If I think of any more or they get suggested, I'll update this to reflect it.  Until then, have fun putting your character through these exercises!

And never, ever forget: I might be wrong. I try not to be, but nobody's perfect. Art is one giant matter of opinion. Feel totally free to disagree or to only utilize the bits that you agree with. If you found this helpful, disagree with me, or just prefer another method to my own, feel free to tell me about it in the comments. After all, I'm here to learn too.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2012-06-22
Suggestor Says; WonHitWonder's tutorials are so good that I read them for entertainment. There's a rather captivating style there that stops the tutorials from being simply directions and instructions. Run the Gamut: A Way to Flesh Out Your Character by ~WonHitWonder ( Suggested by RockstarVanity and Featured by Dan-Heffer )
:iconclumsydemonwithfire:
clumsydemonwithfire Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2014   General Artist
Your writing tutorials are wonderful. They're really useful! Thank you for sharing so much!!! :D
Reply
:iconchill13:
chill13 Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is fantastic! So many great questions and so much more useful than the usual 'eye-color stats' char sheets. And yet not a five billion page interrogation either. This is extremely thought provoking and doable! I have several characters I need to run through this. One in particular. While he's supposed to be quite calm and even-tempered--to offset his quirky, over-zealous and a bit reckless best friend--he hasn't got enough quirks of his own to make him that interesting by himself.

(I HATE watching Old Yeller! I mean the DOG DIES! Horrible movie! What kind of sick people write a story where you get to love the little doggie and then soulessly rip your heart out at the end??!!)
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:icondunyahu:
Dunyahu Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey, I just wanted to say that I absolutly love this list/exercise! I believe that this will help me a whole lot better than the character info sheets I've been gathering from dA. Thanks a lot! :)
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome!  I love info sheet as much as the next guy, but sometimes the info they ask for isn't very helpful to me.
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:iconvalkeus:
Valkeus Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank yooooou! This looks like a great exercise to do!
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:iconclandesty:
Clandesty Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Wow, damn. This has got to be one of the best tutorials on character I've encountered, because it's unique. There's a lot of the same--good, but the same--advice out there on characterization, and multitudes of character sheets and whatnot, so this is a really refreshing approach!

I hand't considered this 'running the gamut' of emotions in my characters. If anything, I think this was the problem I was having with them. They all seem to run on a default emotion and don't fluctuate much. This is really going to help me out. Thanks for sharing!
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:iconhaimokochan:
haimokochan Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2013  Student General Artist
Great reference! :)
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:icondecepticonflamewar:
DecepticonFlamewar Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is really useful and I am totally going to use this next time I feel a character needs some depth. Thank you for providing this stuff!
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:iconsilhouette33insanity:
I filled this in and it was so fun.
YES. FUN. AND USEFUL. AND EVERYTHING.
Finally, something to flesh out characters aside from character profiles!
Reply
:iconkaykao:
Kaykao Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This looks like a wonderful method of fleshing out characters! I'll definitely be using these for my characters in the story I'm going to be re-writing, as it looks like just the sort of details my characters are missing.

Thank you for sharing this! :)
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad you liked this! I had so much fun writing this, it's good to know when other people like it as well :)
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:iconwhisperimaginary:
whisperimaginary Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I don't think I've commented on this so: this is rather helpful to deepen a character :) I think I might try this out for a few of them
Reply
:iconthewhitejewel:
TheWhiteJewel Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012
My favourite out of your tutorials yet! I'll be studying this one carefully!
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:iconx-rainflame-x:
x-RainFlame-x Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist
This is simply marvelous! Best character tutorial I've encountered, hand's down. I'll definitely be using this in the future! Thank you for taking the time to write this!
Reply
:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad that you liked it so much! I had a lot of fun making it, writing it down helped my own personal writing as well :)
Reply
:iconpluie-froide:
Pluie-Froide Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2012  Student General Artist
Hey, I have question that only somewhat connects to this tutorial, but does definitely have to do with fleshing out a character.

How do you write for a character who has a personality type that is the exact opposite of your own? For I'm a very serious, very passive, reflective person, but I'm trying to create a perky, bright character to get out of my comfort zone. The character isn't based off of anybody in real life, which is becoming a problem, because I'm finding myself stooping to writing a stereotype instead of a believable person.
Reply
:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That's a difficult scenario to be in. First though, I'd like to applaud you for stepping outside of your comfort zone. It's a fantastic habit to get in.

I suppose the best thing you could start with is to try to pick a couple of small things that you and your character both enjoy, like foods or activities. Nobody ever has to even know about these in your writing, but you'll be able to step inside your character's shoes for a moment in a happy way because you're both happy about the same thing. Try writing a few paragraphs for practice where your character thinks about things that make her happy (which coincidentally make you happy).

Another thing that you can try next is to find a common situation in which you react seriously or passively and identify exactly why you react that way. Then, come up with other ways to react to this situation, but you must know exactly why each choice makes sense as a realistic reaction. By practicing this and understanding motives, you can decide why certain things would make sense for your character to do and step into their shoes.

Finally, it's a good idea to hone in on what exact positive traits you'd like and why they are present in your character. For example, you could have a character that has had a relatively happy upbringing, loved their parents, and never really wanted for anything. They are thankful for having such a happy upbringing, so they make a point to be grateful for every good thing that comes their way. So the trait I'd be focusing on here would be graciousness.

I hope playing around with these helps you with your character. Good luck, and I'm more than happy to give additional advice if these don't help as much as you needed.
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:iconlocodela:
locodela Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Love this tutorial to death!
Wonderful job! :iconclapplz:
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:iconguardy:
Guardy Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You. Let me hug you forever xD
I'm sitting here without my graphic tablet and it's way too hot to properly write anything and I've filled out thousands of character sheets out of sheer boredom (*cough* I hate character sheets. A lot *cough*). This finally gave me something to THINK about. Thanks.
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Lol, here's that hug :tighthug:

Glad you liked this, I don't like character sheets too because they often don't make sure that you're making a person with a wide range of emotions. Though, character sheets are fun to do if you're just lacking inspiration!
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:iconcrazy-aika:
crazy-aika Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You always make clear my thoughts when i write, your tutorials are awesome!!
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Really? I'm glad to hear that, I'm always afraid they won't be clear at all! I'm really glad that you like them. :)
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:icondevin-shaelyc:
Devin-Shaelyc Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
Oh mah god. This. Is. Brilliant. If I could, I would favourite this 20 times over. Thanks for writing this!
Reply
:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad you enjoyed it! I'm planning on expanding it in the future, so I hope you have fun with it until then!
Reply
:icondevin-shaelyc:
Devin-Shaelyc Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
I most certainly will! :D
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:iconjeskagrace:
JeskaGrace Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2012
Brilliant tut. Thank you :D
Reply
:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem, glad you enjoyed reading it!
Reply
:iconfernvii:
Fernvii Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2012
Can I print this off, so I have it forever? Because it's brilliant.
Reply
:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Lol, go ahead XD

I'm glad that you liked it!
Reply
:iconfernvii:
Fernvii Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2012
:la: Thank you!!
Reply
:iconwhymrwho:
Whymrwho Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Its truly helpful in mapping out these emotions. I found it very entertaining when you gave the examples (the arrogant one was the best one) of each one, and it helps understand it better.

So a gj is in order and well done, and keep it up! Rooting for ya.
Reply
:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! I had fun making this emotion list (and I need to add to it some more) and I'm glad you found it useful. I tend to leave some of my characters stuck in only one emotion most of the time, so I made this to try and cure myself of it XD
Reply
:iconsumgie1:
sumgie1 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012
Another tutorial that stands out in its topic. :) It probably makes a lot of sense to fill in these kinds of character sheets to make the characters more consistent, realistic, etc.

Though, possibly, the easiest way for this goal is to just base a character on a real person - ideally the author him(her)self. That way no planning is needed for the character and one knows how the character will act, react in certain situations. Of course, one may feel there's a risk of making a Mary Sue but, as I see it, one just has to stick to the simple principle: that character is you - not what you want to be (metaphorically speaking, don't just randomly add wings to the character :D).

Personally, I don't feel the need to fill in these sheets. I concentrate on general impressions, i.e. to me, it's all fine as long as the story feels good in general. And I guess me basing a lot of my characters on myself helps me keep them realistic.
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree to a point, I base some characters off of myself but I also really like to draw from other people around me and personalities on TV that I know well. I just like to alter them a bit to fit a specific theme or message that I want to get across. I never physically fill out sheets either, but doing it in my head is a fun excercise
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:iconsumgie1:
sumgie1 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2012
I see. I do agree that one can base characters on other people, too. It's just that I feel that, in that case, one doesn't know the people as well and there's a risk of making two-dimensional characters. But, of course, not necessarily.
Reply
:iconafro-something:
Afro-Something Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, just awesome~!
I'm doing this for my comics main cast^^
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Cool, have fun with it! I hope it helps you with your characters
Reply
:iconxcold-breathx:
xcold-breathx Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012
Thanks for writing this. It made me think.
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for reading it! I'm glad it helped you to think.
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:iconsaminal625:
saminal625 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012
thank you!
Reply
:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome, hope it helps you!
Reply
:iconshirabara:
shirabara Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012
This is very eye-opening! Thank you for making this!
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome, thank you for reading it!
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:icondak-hamee13:
Dak-Hamee13 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Please remind me to look over this tomorrow. I need to sleep right now.
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Lol, you got it!

Subliminal Message Sent: Remember to read this tomorrow...
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:icondak-hamee13:
Dak-Hamee13 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Is it alright if I go through it, list off things, and post it in my journal for safekeeping?
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem, as long as it helps! Just if people ask, you didn't make it up, you know, the usual rules :meow:
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:icondak-hamee13:
Dak-Hamee13 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, I copy/pasted the whole thing, including your name, so it's cool :D
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
No prob, have fun with it!
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:icondak-hamee13:
Dak-Hamee13 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks :) I'll be doing that now
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