From miniatures to 8-bit images, there are plenty of ways to see our characters in living color. There is so much amazing D&D art out there.
Celebrity players and newcomers to the game alike are all looking to see their characters leap from their character sheets into our world.
We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite free and paid software for doing just that. The goal is that you can come to this article with any amount of artistic skill, and zero is definitely an amount, and leave with a beautiful rendering of your character.
To Create a 2D or 3D representation of your RPG Character, you can use sites like Hero Forge, NPC Generator, Eldritch Foundry and Artbreeder. These sites are able to customize characters to various degrees. You will be able to use the images or even capture a gif of the models. We have examples to see below.
Visual Character Creators
Dungeons and Dragons naturally draws in plenty of really talented people.
Creative types of all forms seem to be drawn to it, and why wouldn’t they be. The worlds we create when we sit down for collaborative storytelling are incredible works of fantasy.
Whenever I’m involved in a story, whether I’m reading, listening to a podcast, or just being told a story by a friend, I picture the story in my head. My partner constantly says that when she reads something that she really enjoys, she’s no longer reading, she’s just playing out a movie in her head.
I think this phenomenon is really common, and it’s represented in the language we use for storytelling. Descriptive imagery is always the goal of a story so we can relate.
This all leads us to a very natural conclusion. We want to be able to really see our stories! Creating your character’s visage is such a consistent part of D&D that the character sheets we use even have a designated spot to draw your character.
While there might be a lot of amazing artists out there, I regret to inform you that my drawing skills never even warranted a fridge magnet.
Not all of us can be Picasso, so how do we make our characters come to life?
Of course, like everything on our site, we’re never going to ask you to just take our word for it. So we’ve decided to take two of our very own characters and bring them to life through the various software we’re displaying.
Bilrin “Sparks” Pebblebeard
Bilrin is a 342-year-old gnome artificer. Standing at 2’11” and weighing in at 46 pounds. Bilrin is a stout, but muscular oldtimer always up for a new experience. His white hair is little more than an assortment of eccentric wisps, never without a single mark or two.
Rarely seen without his goggles and a tool in his hand, Bilrin dresses for success. He wears a sort of high collared smith’s apron with plenty of pockets for the various tools or spell components he might need.
Rogal is a pale blue-skinned goliath, a little over 7’ tall, 290 pounds which puts him on the smaller side of goliaths. He is a lean and muscular barbarian with a clean shaved head and jet black facial hair.
As a goliath, Rogal is adorned with black markings that could be easily mistaken as tattoos.
Some of us have a hard time even coming up with a description for our characters. While this site can be used to generate completely random characters, you can also specify the information to get a random description and work from there. It’ll also give you some fun trait details if you’re looking for more ways to make your character stand out.
Hero Forge is one of the most popular miniature builders out there, and for good reason. The wide range of options you have to choose from when building your miniature is simply outstanding.
This builder lets you change every feature of your body, from hair and fingernails to optional tails or wings. Then there are plenty of clothing, gear, and weapon choices to choose from as you tailor your character. The options for coloring are outstanding, allowing you to pinpoint fine details of your character’s palette.
Once you’ve built your character you have a variety of poses to choose from, or you could create your own by rotating individual pieces to get that perfect stance.
All of that playing around can be done for free, so no worries about being unsure before you purchase something, and if you’re just looking for something to print out and use at the table they’ve got a built-in screenshot option for you. If you’re looking to have your character immortalized you can have a printed-out mini sent to you.
The miniatures come in a variety of options, from a downloadable STL file to bronze figures, with prices ranging from $7.99 to over $100 (that’s for the bronze figures, breath).
If you don’t want to paint them yourself a colored plastic miniature is going to run you around $50, a decent price for a fully customized premium figure.
You can even purchase a downloadable token to use in VTTs if that’s more your speed.
This program really is incredible, and I highly recommend it for its simple yet incredibly detailed UI. Spending about an hour with this will give you professional results, and a representation of your character that can last a lifetime.
Another great option for creating miniatures is Eldritch Foundry. Its asset list is a bit smaller, and there’s no option to create a full-color model. You’ll be on your own for painting.
With those details in mind, it has a really wonderful user interface that is easy to pick up. You can create great in-depth characters in about 20 minutes or less.
They don’t have every race, but there are enough scaling and feature options to pretty much get what you need. Starting off with the halfling, adding in elf ears, and messing with the proportions I ended up with a pretty good gnome template for Bilrin.
The lack of color does make it a bit difficult to imagine what your character will look like as you build, but it’s a curve that’s worth getting over for a customized miniature. Their miniatures are going to run you $29.99, the same as an unpainted “premium plastic” mini from Hero Forge.
If you’re looking for a miniature, not just an image of your character, this is a great choice. I highly recommend building your character in both of the miniature makers and purchasing the one that feels more true to your vision.
Points for weirdness on this one. The Artbreeder website uses AI to combine images into new ones. Use the fantasy or portrait creation portals and start messing around.
The site lets you choose various ‘parent’ images, and then blend them together or morph between them to create some new option. It also uses ‘genes’ which are different aspects of the image the AI will favor or disregard based on your preferences.
You’re probably not leaving with a polished art piece, but you’ll get something cool and unique for sure.
Picrew / Meiker
Rather than starting from scratch and creating a complex character, these ‘games’ use a modular system where you just add on features and outfit pieces to a silhouette.
The simplicity of these sites tends to be a pro and a con. On one hand, you only need a few minutes to make a character. On the other, you’ll probably be settling in at least one department.
Not every fantasy character maker you find on these sites is going to have a variety of races or even gender choices. Most tend to be tailored to a specific demographic.
They do create some very cute and easy art styles, and if you’re willing to play around you can get something that isn’t half bad.
Here’s a small list of options on these sites that I was able to have some success with:
Reroll is a great website to keep your eye on, whether you use it for a character creator or not. In addition to a pixelated art style, you also get to keep track of your character sheet. Stats, spells, notes, and more are all a piece of the free account you can build on this website.
The character creator itself is extremely simple. You choose one of the 22 races available (technically 12 with 10 additional heads/lower halves) and mess around with hair, skin color, or any other race-specific qualities (such as the goliath’s ‘tattoos’). Then, once your character is built you simply choose different accessories from the inventory and add them on.
The free package is rather slim with only a handful of assets for each accessory. However, I did manage to make both of the characters with ease using only free assets.
If you do want more, the paid package is a one-time purchase of $7, a small price to pay for the hundreds of options that are opened up to you.
If you want a less traditional art style this is an excellent option. The bonus of being able to keep track of your character and edit those inventory items as you go really makes this site stand out.
I know it sounds silly, but video games are a really fun way to build your character. Skyrim, World of Warcraft, Black Desert Online, Final Fantasy XIV, Dragon Age Inquisition, Divinity Original Sin, and so many more games all boast in-depth character customization options when you start off your game, as well as a slew of cool equipment to try on as you go.
While I would never suggest getting a video game just to make a character, chances are you have some sort of game with character creation in it already. If you don’t, no worries. If you do, play around with recreating your D&D character in a new save file.
Most games are going to lean more heavily to the human side, but some will have enough options to make almost any character you could think of. It can’t hurt to try and let’s be honest, if you have one of those games, the creation is the best part. You won’t mind doing it again.
Commission an Artist
If you are really looking for the personalized touch and a piece of art that you could frame, consider supporting an artist and getting your character art commissioned. Fiverr and Patreon are two sites where you can find artists making exemplary fantasy art.
This really is the best way to get your character made. If you show up with a full description of your character you will receive that character and all of the things you’re looking for. Strangely enough, this option may be the most work.
Commissioning an artist involves a couple of important steps.
First, you have to know what your character looks like. Sure, you could say “I want a gnome artificer” and just be happy with whatever you get, but you’re going to get better results if you describe as many of the features as you can. Hopefully, your lack of art skills is compensated by proficiency with words.
The next thing you’ll have to do is find an artist. Each artist has their own style, and their own nuances that will show up in their characters. Some artists will bring you that anime style, others might capture the WotC artstyle we’ve grown accustomed to.
Finding the right artist for you should take some digging. Commissioned art isn’t cheap, so you should be willing to spend as much time as necessary finding the artist for you.
That brings us to the last part, paying. Artists are hard workers, and they’re not just giving out their content for free. Some commissions might be rather expensive (I’m talking over $100) but that art is going to be worth it.
DO NOT HAGGLE WITH ARTISTS… please.
The last thing a skilled professional wants to hear is that you’ll give them a good reference. For many artists, this is a full-time job, so be kind when entering their workplace.
If you’re willing to dish out some cash for a personalized immortalization of your character, check out those websites and get at it.
Seeing our character’s come to life is a rewarding experience. Sometimes that means having a miniature on the table that is completely unique to us, and sometimes that means having a piece of art we can show off to all of our friends.
I hope this article has helped you, and you get to experience the joy of visualizing the character you’ve grown to love.
And as always, happy adventuring!