Character Stew – Creating Savory Characters

Character Stew – Creating Savory Characters

Posted by John in Articles


1 risk taking talent

1 clever imagination

Add thousands of people that surround you

1 Audio Recording device (Iphone etc) and a home studio

1 Character Breakdown Sheet

Ton of research

1 non-judgmental mind

If you follow this recipe thoroughly, you will receive maximum results.  You may have heard me say in the past, “All Voice jobs have a character in them” and this is true.  Whether you are being the chipmunk or the guy/girl next door, these are all characters that are built within you that you need to get to know.

I call it my character stew or my rolodex of characters and I’m constantly looking to add more to my stew.  It takes a ton of flavors to be a character performer and these characters are usually right underneath your nose.   The best characters to perform are those that haven’t been explored yet.   For example if you were to mimic the geek or bully in your young school days, they would be different than the one I would mimic.  Each person you have encountered in your lifetime is another potential character and how you interpret these characters is what makes them unique.

So what kind of characters should you have in your stew/rolodex?  Well it really depends on what genres you are pursuing.   Each option I mention, think of the feminine and the masculine version of each.  Humans; Parents, siblings, teachers, salesman, friends, neighbor, irritating person, geeky person, hero, energetic person, dry person, someone in charge, innocent…..etc.  As you can see this covers so many different types of people.  Think in professions.  These are all people that could be perfect for your next script.  The trick is to find the right character for the job, so you need to log all these characters and get to know them.

The same is true when creating more animated characters, they could still be human, but you can now consider animals (the list goes on here), inatimate objects (toothbrush/chair etc), Creatures (funny and creepy), insects…basically anything that isn’t human.

Whatever your genre, start studying the types of characters that are currently being cast.  Then you have a good idea of what is popular.  Then when you decide that you want to work on a specific type, such as a 5 year old boy voice, then use your personal life to find a young boy to mimic.  Record them and study their movements and actions.  If you don’t have someone in your life then use youtube.  Type in 5 year old boy tells story, or 5 year old boy sings.  Then you’ll be able to watch real kids in action and find your perfect character.  Then using a character breakdown sheet document everything about them.  Use your voice recorder/studio to record the original character when possible, and yourself attempting to voice them.  Once you’ve nailed the character down, create a catch phrase to easily get into character.  Now you have a reference sheet and reference audio clip.

When creating inanimate characters, study the object.  Think of it in more human terms.  How old is it?  What does it feel like to be this object?  How does it move in time?  What is it made of?  Mimic it’s visuals and see what voice might follow.  Try and truly understand what the character feels like in a day and become that character.  The voice will follow.

The physical aspects of creating a character are one of the most neglected elements.  You must physicalize them first and the voice will follow.  So paint the picture with your body and truly become.  That is the key!

There is so much more to tell you – but I have to keep this short.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to send me an email

Until Next time

VOChefDeb – aka Deb Munro

17 May 2015 No Comments

Post a comment