The Creative Portfolio of Melissa K. Vassar-Belloso

Do you need a solid reference for a character in your book or comic?

Are you stumped on where to go next for your latest character design and in need of a second opinion?

Are you sick of the back and forth with your creative team or a commissioned artist over the design of character?

Or are you just an overachieving tabletop player who wants to blow your friends away in the next campaign?

You need a Character Kit!

Character Kit can solve all those problems mentioned above and more. It’s not just an ordinary character design commission or even a regular character sheet. It’s a product that fills the gap of having a great visual reference for a character,bridges the gap in the commission  process and  helps cure creative gaps.

The Story Behind the Product

I developed the concept behind Character Kits because I felt like there was a gap in the market when it came to having a really good and solid character reference for visual design. A lot of people do character design commissions and that typically gives you a single and boxed-in reference of one look of your character in one position. Character sheets are just as bad and give you that static reference in a few angles while still being somewhat limited. I wanted to create something that would not only be a reference but also something that would be flexible and inspiring to the client.

Character Kits are inspired by the idea of a PH testing strip. I thought to myself, if I could do the same thing to a character sheet as the strip dragging out and separating colors,wouldn’t that be a better reference for a character?

Character Kits are designed to “drag out” the parts of a character sheet and break them down in comprehensive parts. This means that instead of a simple character sheet you’re getting…

  • A real thorough anatomical reference and base
  • A full profile built from your form responses and submitted character profile
  • A real wardrobe instead of one outfit
  • Multiple hairstyles instead of just one
  • A sheet of expressions and even libraries of props and accessories.

But, that’s not all it’s good for.

The Character Kit process is structured to challenge creatives to design better by walking them through exploring hands-on and guided character development that develops their character inside and out. I don’t just want you to draw or have a drawing of your character. I believe in really helping people truly profile and design characters so they walk away from the process with something more and keep designing great characters moving forward.

Character Kits are not only great for providing a solid reference when commissioning work but provide a perfect kit for character designers of all skill levels to tackle the process head-on.

How it Works & Why it’s Different

Unlike most commissions which usually consist of multiple back and forth e-mails, Character Kit is designed to be a leisurely and hassle-free process with limited hiccups. The whole process is managed through forms so you know exactly what information I need as a contractor and I have it in a neatly packaged format that I can easily refer to. Every form is designed to cover everything from the most basic character to the most complex and has plenty of room for feedback and file uploads.

Sick of digging for files and vital information related to your order in your inbox or having files get lost in the shuffle? That problem is all but gone with Character Kit. The whole process is managed through an intuitive client portal. Access your files,invoices and other documents easily and never scrounge around when it comes to downloading things. You can even conveniently send reference files anytime during the process and know they’re in a central location and won’t be missed like what can sometimes happen in the midst of e-mail trails.

How about the anticipation of not knowing how your order is going? Character Kit is designed to keep the client well within the loop with weekly updates,clear stats on progress,WIP material sharing and a unique timeline broken into multiple stages with up to three revision rounds per stage. By revising as the process is going,it reduces the odds of client dissatisfaction and makes you truly part of the process. As a bonus, I also keep careful logs with pictures of the creation process so you can have full visibility into how your kit came to life.

But sometimes a commission can feel a bit…cold,right? That’s why with a Character Kit I take real steps to get to know your character. I’m not doing a quick cash grab either. Each kit takes 3-6 weeks and that’s because I truly pour time,love and energy into each order. My goal is to bring the best version possible of your character to life, because it’s not just an art project. It’s your vision and your baby. I want to love your character as much as you do and create something you’ll love and keep going back to.

A Little Bit About me…

I am a writer,hobbyist artist,beginning HTML5 developer and a seriously passionate enthusiast when it comes to character design. I’m really very much of a variety creative. I am not a professional in any strain but I like to utilize all the things that interest me for the Character Kit process. That’s why it’s a little bit of writing,a little bit of 3D technology,a little bit of consultation and of course a bunch of drawing. I’m a firm believer that character design isn’t just an artist’s game and that’s why I focus on techniques and tools  that empower anyone to create a great character.

The Design & Revision Process

The first stage is a free evaluation. During that phase you fill out an extensive character profile that I will use throughout the process. Before I do any drawing I create some base concepts using a 3D program. For more human characters I use Character Creator 3 and for creatures I use Daz3D. To fill in any gaps that I can’t produce in 3D I may also gather a catalog of reference pictures.

Something I wanted to eliminate was guessing the anatomy of a person’s character because to me a good base is crucial for a character design. Once we can agree on the look of the anatomical references then I do a basic sketched base. If you approve of the sketch and want to move forward on a contract then you’ll be expected to pay in full at that time and before any additional work is done. You will not be allowed to keep or use any of the evaluation materials or receive the 3D model if you choose to not go forward. The first stage is meant to be a brief stage that allows you to get to know me as a contractor and decide if you’re truly interested in the product I’m offering.

If you do decide to go into a contract, you will be expected to sign a non-commercial license agreement. At this time Character Kits can only be used as non-commercial reference material but if you need it for a commercial purpose you can let me know and I will work out a commercial component to your license and determine an appropriate licensing fee. The licensing fee  for commercial use will vary for each customer and be based on the uses you want,the content in your package plan and how many characters are involved.

The second stage involves creating the base so that involves a turnaround sheet for the full body and also one for the character bust. These sheets are not only provided as bases you can use for future development but they also serve as the bases for the rest of the parts of the kit. If your character has non-human parts like wings,tails etc. I will also do a detail sheet of those parts at this stage.

The third stage is doing the other sheets. This stage will vary based on what sheets you opt into but typically you’ll have wardrobe,hair,props and expressions with possibly additional sheets for makeup,nail art and accessories.

The last stage, which can take a few weeks, is arranging the kit itself. When you get delivered the final product it will be split into parts. The kit itself that you can distribute as a reference to an artist or subcontractor is in a PDF form that cannot be altered  but as the license holder you will have access to a whole folder of design aids to use on your own adventures. You will also receive the 3D models used in OBJ and FBX format and a layered PDF so you can switch out layers and build your ideal character sheet. Character sheets made from the sheet builder file can be used for non-commercial purposes only and cannot be sold,offered as a download or printed on materials being sold. You can create promotional or profile images for a project from it as long it’s restricted to your usage and kept non-commercial.

It’s important to mention that I only do a strict as-you-go revision process. This means that revisions become available after stages 1-3. Once I reach stage four than revisions are over as well.

Content Stipulations

While I strive to be a flexible designer, there will still be things I can and cannot do in terms of any given project. While I can guarantee that I can definitely do human characters and the majority of humanoid characters, I mainly do best with common stock like fairies, elves, vampires, merpeople or demons. I can’t make any promises on zombies, chibi or SD characters, animal characters, anthromorphic characters, robots, mechs and some exceptions of monster or alien characters. The more humanoid the monster or alien is, the more likely I can do it.

That being said, I won’t say no to these requests completely and I’m happy to do what I can on them and see how you feel about the end result. If you’re willing to be patient and open-minded, I’m up for the creative adventure. I’m not completely unable to do those subjects but I feel it’s the most honest approach to let you know they aren’t my usual cup of tea and results may vary. Those subjects may also require extra time or focus on my part since they’re unfamiliar territory and may require more research.

The only character requests I definitely cannot do and reserve a right to refuse are ones that are offensive (as in sexist,racist etc.),illegal (such as loli or shotacon) or bootleg (blatantly based from a licensed character to a point I see it as copyright infringing to another creative).

The Payment & Refund Process

Let’s address the elephant in the room first and talk about how you pay and how refunds work. I only accept payment in USD via paypal. I only accept full payments and I don’t currently offer payment plans. I don’t do full refunds under any circumstances or accept any alternate currencies of any kind. Refunds are an option at the same time as revision and will only apply to any design process that hasn’t been started and 70%  of the license fee which is $35 if you just have the standard non-commercial one.

Once I start a design stage it is no longer open to a refund. The reason I decided to set refunds up this way is so it wasn’t a firm no. I get compensated for the time I put in while the client still has some option for at least a partial refund.  The actual amount you can get back will vary and is calculated based on what sheets are included in the design stages eligible for refund. If you try to scam me and report your Paypal payment as fraud to try to get it all back, I am not above producing your signed agreement to dispute it and denying any refund at all,even a partial one. Trust me, I will ruin you if I have to because this is my grocery and bill money we’re talking about.

It basically breaks down like this….

Design Phase One
This phase is free of charge and is not eligible for refund.

Design Phase Two
This phase initiates as soon as you approve the anatomical model and concept sketches for the character. While it is unlikely this stage will be refundable it contains the amount of the bust/head sheet and turnaround sheet.

Design Phase Three
This phase initiates when you approve the sheets from phase two. If this phase is refundable it contains the amount of the expression, hairstyle, prop and wardrobe sheets as well as any extra pages you opt into getting.

Design Phase Four
This phase initiates as soon as you approve the sheets from phase three. If you haven’t requested a refund by this phase, your order has already been depleted of refund eligible content even if you refuse the reference file.

Please note that this service doesn’t carry an expectation of tips or gratuities. If you choose to add any bonus or tip to your payment or would like the option to do so, please make sure it is sent as a separate payment via Paypal from what you pay for the services.

Sheet Types & Packages

By default, I have packages set up, but you can also do orders a-la-carte. If you have 10+ characters in your order you can build up to three custom packages. I do also differentiate between a single or dual-form character for package prices. If your character has more than one distinct form you will have to go by the dual-form pricing and it’s essentially the charge of one character plus half a character for every additional form.

If you need a sheet other than the options I have available,custom sheet prices will vary and be estimate-based. If the number of things you need exceeds the max on the sheet options, you have an option to add sheets to packages. There is no discount included for doing so and it will simply cost the price of the sheet.

I also have a baldy pack option for all packs and that’s to accommodate any of you out there whose character is completely bald and doesn’t need hairstyles done. If your character is bald but wears wigs then the baldy pack will not apply because I still have to design the wigs.

If you are torn between packages vs. a-la-carte, I can tell you that a-la-carte will probably come out more expensive for you, as the packages do have the sheets at a 20% reduced price while a-la-carte has the full sheet price calculated. Please note that all a-la-carte orders must have a turnaround and bust detail sheet as well as as least one other sheet of your choosing and you’ll still have to add the license. If you just want a base,I have packages for that.

  • Turnaround Sheet: The turnaround sheet is the most time-consuming sheet of the file. By default and so the content can be used as a base throughout the file, this sheet is done bald,nude and in a basic standing pose. This might seem boring but I feel it best presents the finer details of the character without being bogged down by extras like hair or clothing and reduces the distortion a more exciting pose might create. Turnaround sheets come in 4 configurations. The 2-angle sheet has 3/4 front and back facing views. The 3-angle sheet is the 2-angle plus a side view facing the direction of your choice. The 4 and 6 angle variants are a classic turnaround with the option to choose the facing direction of right or left on the 4-angle sheet.                                                                                          [2-angle] $13 [3-angle] $18 [4-angle] $25 [6-angle] $37
  • Bust Detail Sheet: This sheet is not optional. Like the turnaround this sheet is bald  and nude by default so it can be used as a base throughout the kit and not be bogged down by accessories or hair. The same angles from the turnaround sheet apply here.                                                                                                                                                         [2-angle] $9 [3-angle] $13 [4-angle] $17 [6-angle] $26
  • Hairstyle Sheets: Hairstyle sheets will be done as one sheet per style but priced by the number of styles you’d like me to develop for the character. The sheet will show the hairstyle at multiple angles and you’ll be consulted prior to developing them to discuss what hairstyles you’d like or given a chance to provide pictures for reference.                  [1 Style]$7 [3 Styles]$17 [5 Styles]$28 [7 Styles]$38
  • Prop Sheets: Prop sheets follow the same format as the hairstyle sheets in presentation and pricing. Based on the prop I’ll choose the most appropriate angles to show it in and also show detailed portions of the prop or measurements for scale as needed. Props can range from weapons, everyday items, medical aids or even food items. Also if you would like me to add an animal companion or anything fitting that role such as small fae, buddy robot or magic familiar it counts as a prop for basically more simplistic billing purposes. Clothing accessories do not count for this sheet. They will count toward the wardrobe sheet as part of an ensemble or as an item for the accessory sheet if you opt into that.                                                                                                                                                                  [1 Prop]$9 [3 Props]$22 [5 Props]$36 [7 Props]$49
  • Expression Sheets: Expression sheets aren’t an essential but they can help to have as a reference for how your character expresses themselves.                                                                                                                                                 [10-Expressions Sheet]$10 [20-Expression Sheet]$20 [30-Expression Sheet]$30
  • Wardrobe Sheets: Wardrobe sheets are basically the turnaround sheet with clothing added and hair omitted. The hair is omitted so it doesn’t interfere with the outfit design process or obscure any details. Wardrobe sheets will have whatever angles your turnaround sheet option does and be the most time-consuming sheet in the kit after the turnaround itself. Each outfit will be a full ensemble so it will go beyond the basics and include the finer points like accessories and layers. Wardrobe is designed with your character’s personality in mind so prior to this stage I will consult with you on what you feel your character’s preferences are and what kind of lifestyle they’re dressing for. You can also submit outfit ideas you have or send reference pictures. A basic wardrobe is 3 ensembles and the full wardrobe is 5 while the super wardrobe is 7 ensembles. You can also do just one default outfit.                  [Default Only]$13 [Basic]$32 [Full]$52 [Super]$71

Fashionable Extras

These sheets are definitely not essential, but if you feel your character needs it, I can do a sheet of makeup looks, nail art designs or additional small accessories for their wardrobe. The makeup sheets have 8 different looks and the nail art sheet has 4 nail sets. The accessory sheet is going to be open-ended and I’ll fit as much as possible on it.                              [Makeup Sheet]$12 [Nail Art Sheet]$12 [Accessory Sheet]$15

In a Hurry? I can also do an “Express Sheet” for $86 which features a 4-angle turnaround with a default outfit and hairstyle applied. Express sheets are not configurable and do not include props or expressions. Delivery time is approximately 7-15 days.

Now we can move on to the actual packages. Please note that the non-commercial license is a standard $50 fee. Each package price accounts for that being included.

Bronze Bases Only Pack

This $75 pack is the lowest of my base only packs. For dual-form characters this pack costs $87.

This pack includes:

  • A 3-Angle Turnaround Sheet
  • A 3-Angle Bust Sheet
  • Non-commercial usage license
Silver Bases Only Pack

This $84 pack is the middle ground of my base only packs. For dual-form characters this pack costs $101.

This pack includes:

  • A 4-Angle Turnaround Sheet
  • A 4-Angle Bust Sheet
  • Non-commercial usage license
Gold Bases Only Pack

This $100 pack is the top dog of my base only packs. For dual-form characters this pack costs $125.

This pack includes:

  • A 6-Angle Turnaround Sheet
  • A 6-Angle Bust Sheet
  • Non-commercial usage license
Supporting Character Pack

This $99 pack is ideal for a character that needs a bare minimum reference such an NPC or one-shot filler character. For dual-form characters this pack costs $? with mirrored outfits/props/hair and $? with unique outfits/props/hairstyles for the other form. The Baldy Pack version is  $93 for a single character $? for a mirrored dual-form and $? for a unique dual-form.

This pack includes:

  • A 2-Angle Turnaround Sheet
  • A 10-Expression Sheet
  • A 2-Angle Bust Sheet
  • 1 Hairstyle
  • 1 Prop
  • Default-only Wardrobe
  • Non-commercial usage license
Tertiary Character Pack

This $? pack is ideal for a character that needs minimal but beyond barebones development such as a tertiary or recurring character. For dual-form characters this pack costs $? with mirrored outfits/props/hair and $? with unique outfits/props/hairstyles for the other form. The Baldy Pack version is  $? for a single character $? for a mirrored dual-form and $? for a unique dual-form.

This pack includes:

  • A 3-Angle Turnaround Sheet
  • A 20-Expression Sheet
  • A 3-Angle Bust Sheet
  • 3 Hairstyles
  • 3 Props
  • Basic Wardrobe
  • Non-commercial usage license
Secondary Character Pack

This $? pack is the second best pack available and the one I’d recommend the most. It has more detail than the Tertiary pack but not the gold standard of the Main pack so it will actually work for the majority of secondary or main characters. For dual-form characters this pack costs $? with mirrored outfits/props/hair and $? with unique outfits/props/hairstyles for the other form. The Baldy Pack version is  $? for a single character $? for a mirrored dual-form and $? for a unique dual-form.

This pack includes:

  • A 4-Angle Turnaround Sheet
  • A 20-Expression Sheet
  • A 4-Angle Bust Sheet
  • 5 Hairstyles
  • 5 Props
  • Full Wardrobe
  • Non-commercial usage license
Main Character Pack

This $? pack is the gold standard package and is ideal for a character you want a truly packed reference file for. For dual-form characters this pack costs $? with mirrored outfits/props/hair and $? with unique outfits/props/hairstyles for the other form. The Baldy Pack version is  $? for a single character $? for a mirrored dual-form and $? for a unique dual-form.

This pack includes:

  • A 6-Angle Turnaround Sheet
  • A 30-Expression Sheet
  • A 6-Angle Bust Sheet
  • 7 Hairstyles
  • 7 Props
  • Super Wardrobe
  • Non-commercial usage license