Deshi Character Design Challenge (DCDC)

With the increasing demand of original characters in desi comic and animation scene, last year cartoon people started Deshi Character Design Challenge (DCDC). From Marvel, Dc, Manga inspired art style to the importance of creating characters and superheros that we can call our own, Nazmun Nahar Shishir writes.

With characters, many have fallen in love — in childhood with Looney Tunes, Chacha Chowdhury or Tom and Jerry; during teenage years with Justice League, Samurai Jack , Naruto or unmad. Each character — whether of comics, cartoon, or animated film — was designed with distinct features that turned them lively. And, there, comes the process of character designing.
 Character designing is a process in comic and animation that combines the skills of drawing, knowledge of culture, fashion, and language. Just think of your 5 favorite comic or animated characters and you will see each has his own style of diction, unique outfit or physical appearance, and each represents a culture — — all together the character must be out-of-the-box but embraceable by the target audience.

Popular Bangla characters: From left to right: Basic Ali, Unmad, Chacha Chowdhury (India), Tokai.

In the end, a fictional character becomes a part of your life — from static, day by day, the character forms motion, and shades of traits start to bloom through situations in the plot, through actions and reactions of other co-characters too. Remember that in a story, a character grows, becomes known and complete with the help of its surrounding characters.

Right now Bangladesh has a lot of potential character designers and illustrators, yet we find them drawing mostly fan art and/or designing characters which are heavily influenced by western drawing styles, culture and philosophy, as well as Asian manga styles. One of the major reasons behind this is that the inspirations and references we gather (the photos, movies, or other artists work) from the internet before drawing our own character are also mostly foreign references, and not our own. Such foreignized references dominate character designers’ pencils, thus the deshi characters become foreignized, unknowingly.

In this process of designing characters with foreign inspirations, we often forget to look for inspiration from our surroundings. We overlook the process of looking around us, taking photos and creating our own reference library.
 From the utmost need of having local characters in deshi cartoon scene, from June 2017, Cartoon People started DCDC — Deshi Character Design Challenge, where it only focuses on designing deshi characters and their stories. The aim is to put out a local character challenge every month with a set of home-grown reference photos and hints to inspire artists to collect more of their original references and continue the practice of creating original characters.


The first challenge of DCDC was the ‘Tong Man’ challenge. Primarily, it was a challenge to create a super hero out of a tea stall man. Surprisingly, this first super hero challenge created a buzz within the cartoon community of Dhaka. The number of entries Cartoon People had was also great.

Number of entries:43
 Winners: Mahatab Rashid, Morshed Mishu & Zunayed Iqbal Ishmam

The second challenge was ‘Hey Mama’ challenge. It focused on all kinds of mamas around us — from Rickshawala Mama to Halim Mama. It has focused on deshi cultural characters with all its uniqueness. This time Cartoon People had more then 100+ submissions within only a week. From the participants responses this time, it was clear of the need and craving there was among the artists to start a practice like this.
 Number of entries:100
 Winners: Arham Habib, Shamit Ahmed, Adib Reza Rongon & Angona Ahsana

The third DCDC challenge was focused on the local bad boys, the thugs of our neighborhood. DCDC 3-‘Elakar Pola: The thug life’ challenge had the same success.

Winners: Morshed Mishu, Rafid Nahian, Samit Ahmed, Antik Mahmud Anik

Since the first three of the challenges were highly urban, the fourth one was based on fairytale characters. Chander Buri to Dalim Kumar, Rakkhosh Kokkhosh to Nil Komol and Lal Komol, our artists had drawn them all!

Winners: Rio Shuvo,Taposhi Moumita & Adrian Anik.

And then, DCDC stepped into history with the ‘Muktijoddha Challenge’ (freedom fighter challenge), in December, 2017. With the aim of uniting people in the month of victory, the year wrapped up with an amazing exploration of our own freedom fighters through an artistic lens.

If you want to participate in this deshi character design challenge, come join the Cartoon People Facebook group. Participating in the challenge is also the best way to connect with other artists in the community and let everyone know you mean business! It all starts with a paper and a pen.

Written by: Nazmun Nahar Shishir
Edited by: Luba Khalili