In this tutorial I will show you how to create a simple game character, that you can use as a basic design for your player or enemy sprites. This is not a step by step tutorial, because I wish to give you some ideas of a general graphic design process, for later you can create your own ideas. Simple copy and paste never will improve your art skills!
Some general advise:
1. It doesn't matter what software you use to create your graphics. If you spent 1000,- bucks for Photoshop, but don't know how to use it, your designs will be crap! If you start out, use Gimp and/or Inkscape, both are free, mature graphic packages. Learn how to use them. There are plenty tutorials around on the internet. Read the manuals – you have no idea what you can learn from them!
2. You don't must study graphic design for nice looking artworks. One very important point, that can make the difference, is the correct use of colors & light.
Make the light problem easy for you: Choose one(!) light source for your level (for example from the upper left) and use it for all your assets. Nothing looks more unprofissional than one tree has light on the left side and the rock next to it has light on the right side.
Finding nice colors can be even more easy. When you start out, don't use more then 5 colors on a character, better just use 4 or 3.
For finding colors that fit together, use this tools/websites:
Your character (or sprites in general) should always be in more bright colors than the background, because they are the centrum of attention in a game. Don't make your backgrounds more colorful then the sprites, or the players of your game get lost (and a headache).
3. Keep it simple! Yes, this is actually very important. Keep it simple. If you want publish your game on iPhones or Android phones, nobody will see the details on which you worked for hours anyway.
So, how you make a game character like this?
It's very easy. Keep it simple!
Use ellipses for the head, eyes, ears, body, arms and feet. Thats it.
There is really nothing more you need to do. Draw some ellipses and arrange them to create a funny little guy, that you can send on some video game adventures.
If you use small assets or your game should scale on devices with tiny screens, it is better to don't use outlines at all. Also, never use 100 % black and white color, because that ends with having strange artifacts, when your character is moving around. In my character design above i used a light gray to fill the eyes and also the black hair is not really black but a dark gray.
Don't fiddle around too much with details. If the player is fighting monster alligators and trying to survive, he give a f... if your character has nice gold buttons on his jacket or a dragon tatoo on his neck. Look my character design above, i didn't even care to give him a mouth.
By the way, I normally use vector software, because you can easier change things, like the size of the head or recoloring the whole guy. But every person is different, so use what you like best.
Give it a try and most important have fun! Maybe you can show me some of your creations.