There are many creative outlets that D&D players use to portray their characters. Many like to draw, some cosplay, others make playlists; the list goes on and on. The truth is players and DMs love the characters they create, and they want to find any possible way to keep their characters alive. One of my personal favorite things to do for D&D characters is to make an aesthetic or moodboard.
Although there are many different ways to make aesthetics, my personal formula tends to be very specific. To make the moodboards, I use the Android app QuickCollage (which I believe is unavailable for iOS) because it allows me to create a nine-picture collage with no borders around or between the pictures. I also use Pinterest to find the pictures I use, and I have an enormous board filled with all sorts of aesthetic pictures and other things that I can use to create the moodboards. When building a moodboard, I decide on two colors that I feel represent a character and don’t contrast and type in the color followed by the word “aesthetic”. I comb through the results to find things that match the character, and do additional searches to find anything that I feel is particularly relevant to the character. Finally, I either find a face claim or request one from the person who the character belongs to, put the images in the three-by-three grid, and put enough filters on the pictures to ensure that the colors look uniform. For he rest of this post, I am going to go through some of the aesthetics that I have made for my players and NPCs and breaking down why I chose the images and colors I did.
For Lei’s aesthetic (the picture above and the featured image for the blog), Neli said that the two colors that she imagined her in the most were black and red, and as such I chose those colors to work with. Additionally, she provided me with the appropriate face claim. I always put the face claim in the center of the moodboard to ensure that the character is the core of the aesthetic. The red pictures I feel all contribute to parts of Lei: soft and sweet like a rose, but not afraid to burn anyone who messes with her, like lava. Lei also has someone she really loves from her past, and she is absolutely not afraid to kick ass and take names (hence the “Girls bite back” at the bottom). The black pictures are mostly more obvious; arrows for an archer and combat boots for a former militant. The eclipse in the bottom left corner is mostly for aesthetic purposes, but could be interpreted as a deeper struggle in Lei’s soul. Finally, the quote in the upper right is a reminder of something from Lei’s past, something we haven’t broached in-game yet, but is an enormous part of her life.
Caileth’s colors are gold, blue, and white; these colors are the one’s that Eli chose for Caileth at the beginning of the campaign as a cleric, a moon elf, and just for overall aesthetic. Her character has blue hair and grey skin, and since it is hard to find a picture that matches that description, I was able to find a picture of a woman with short bright blue hair that fits just well enough for Caileth. The blue imagery is quite symbolic of Caileth as a whole; the underwater hands and the electricity between fingers highlights her nature as a tempest cleric, and the swirling neon “What do you believe in?” in the bottom left corner represents Caileth’ tumultuous relationship with her god, a relationship born not of necessity and belief but of chance. The clear glass with blue fog spilling out of it also fills a mostly aesthetic purpose. The gold trident is in place because it is Perceus’s favorite weapon, and a weapon that Eli hopes to get for Caileth one day. On the right and left, the gold sparkles and wings represent the divine nature of Caileth’s powers. Finally, the golden banner stating “I can and I will” are a symbol of the cleric’s optimistic nature and love of her friends.
Bel, as a lover of the forest and animals, naturally lends himself to the colors of green and brown that represents nature. Nearly all of the pictures in Bel’s aesthetic represent his attachment to the forest that he lived in before becoming an adventurer. The snake skin in particular is very important to Bel; he has two snakes that he loves dearly, and he himself is also a Path of the Totem Warrior barbarian under the Path of the Snake (using a homebrewed mechanic). When asked for a faceclaim for Bel, Reagan responded with Dane Dehaan, and as such he is the very center image representing her angry half-elf boy. The bottom left corner shows two men kissing, representative of a great love in Bel’s life (and as Reagan would probably say, of his gay little heart). The bright green “You are strong” is not only symbolic of his actual barbarian strength, but also of the hardship he has had to endure in his life. Finally, the last piece of the moodboard, the shot of the phrase “You suck less than most people”, is there to represent Bel’s attitude towards people and society. He is slow to trust and absolutely despises emotions (especially talking about them), but if you’ve made it past the walls he has built up, he will be there for you for life.
Solomon is a man shrouded in mystery for both the other characters and the players. Outside of my dad and me, no one knows anything about what has occurred in his past. He is a man of music who has a way with words. For the face claim, I picked Ben Barnes; he matched the physical description of Solomon my dad had given to me and is just about the right age range for the bard. For the rest of his pictures, I chose the burgundy and silver/grey color based off of my dad’s idea for his color scheme. The burgundy scrabble tiles to me represent his high charisma and way with words, while the storm cloud and staircase represent the hardship in his life, how far he has come, and how far he has still to go. Naturally, the last of the burgundy images is a stage, which also telegraphs his skills as a performer. For the silver and grey pictures, I wanted something to represent magic, and I felt the glittery hands were an excellent way to show the flashiness that charisma based arcane arts often possess. The horse is primarily filler aesthetic, but it does also have some background relevance to Solomon as well. I found the quote picture “I’ll survive. Somehow I always do” to be very fitting for Solomon because of the sheer amount that he’s been through over the years, both before the group and with them. Finally, the quote “You great unfinished symphony” spoke to me for the bard, partially because of the musical connotations, but mostly because of the idea that even though he’s been through so much, he is working towards a grand purpose and becoming a heroic person, even if he still has a long road ahead of him.
Creating moodboards is absolutely one of my favorite things to do for characters, both PCs and NPCs. The ability to pick colors and images that resonate with the core of their souls is something that I cherish and try to keep doing regularly. Many of my players also make their own moodboards for the characters too, and it is fascinating to see the different perspectives for how they see their own characters and the others. Having a creative outlet to express your D&D characters is something that I think everyone should have if they can find it, whether it be drawing, creating playlists and moodboards, designing figurines, or any number of other things. It just goes to show how much we love our characters, and how life-changing D&D can truly be.
Questions, comments, or concerns? Leave me a comment below or find me on Twitter @DandDDM.