Telos: Dude, I have always wanted a pair of dunks, I almost robbed a guy for a pair once, almost got sent to Juvie... And, these dunks are brand new… poor fella, he didn't even get the chance to enjoy them. Oh well, finders keepers.
Ursos (In the background): Dude, that's nasty! Stop taking people's shit, it's weird. Why don't you go and pick up gear from the pit, like the rest of us?
Telos: UGH! The pit?! Have you seen the amount of crap that ends in there? And I used to think that the trash island the size of Texas in the middle of the ocean was awful! Anyhow, by the time you get there when new stuff arrives, the cool stuff is gone. I don't understand what's the big deal; is not as if this guy needs them.
Ursos: Yeah, but having their shoes, clothing, watch hat, pants missing might look like robbery/murder and not a natural death.
Telos: Honestly, dude, you worry too much.
This is how the story starts, or at least one of the stories. I used to think character and toy design was about how cool the character and the gear look, but it took a while since I understood the fact that a good background story is what makes a character real and grounded and that is what makes a character great.
Telos is your regular teenager. Well, am I lying there… It isn't anything usual about him, he works as a grim reaper, wait… don't tell me that you thought there is only one grim reaper? And he can go around the world collecting souls. Dude, you must have gotten your stories mixed… that's the fat guy wearing a red suit. That's if you believe in that sort of stuff.
Anyhow, where was I? You start writing down the list of what makes your character unique.
What makes him stands out? What's his story? Where did he come from? Why is he a young kid? Why is he wearing those clothing? Why is he carrying that coffin on his back? Why does he wear red gloves or are they gloves? What's with the mask? What does Telos mean?
I'll start with Telos' background story.
Telos is an orphan who lived in many foster homes, until one day he decided to run away. He lived on the streets, he made some friends, lived under bridges, slept in parks on benches, survived doing petty crimes. And, on a cold winter's night, he died frozen on a bench.
Well, that took a wrong turn for the worse pretty quick. It's a story of a boy grim-reaper - what did you expect? Death saw something in the boy, and he decided to make him an apprentice. He assigned Ursös as his mentor.
Now that we have the scene defined, I know the mood of the world he lives in, and I can build on that. For example, initially, I thought of the name Mortem Urbana for him, and I didn't like it. So I decided to look up "death" in multiple languages, I usually start with old languages like Latin, Greek, Arabic and find one that sounds good, easy to pronounce and to remember, and after a couple of tries the name Telos jumped out. It means "an end" in Greek.
While I am working on a new concept for a new toy, I don't have everything figured out before starting to sketch. Some of the stuff I come up with while working, or even after; it's your character design, it's your process, do whatever makes you comfortable, that's the best thing about creating your own original work.
Here is what I knew when I started: I knew the character was going to be a kid around the age of 12-14 years old, I knew he was going to be a grim reaper. The rest came while I was working on creating the concept.
When creating Telos, I wanted him to be wearing a backpack, something to hold his weapons, then it occurred to me that a coffin would look be more interesting, but I needed to justify the coffin - why does he have a coffin on his back? Is it for carrying the souls he captures? His weapons? Potions? Yes for all of the above. But why a coffin? Well, each grim reaper has to carry the coffin he/she was buried into. Ursos caries a baby coffin on his back because he died as an infant. Does that mean the grim reapers age? ....
The gloves or hands are red because they have blood on their hands from all the soul collecting. A grim reaper has to make a cut in a body to take the soul out by pulling it out of the body; souls don't just pop out easily.
And as for the cool clothing… Well, you read the story at the start and how he gets the stuff he wears.
As for the mask, well... Each grim reaper has a spirit animal, with which we are all born and once you die and get picked to become a grim reaper that spirit turns into your mask. Telos has a cat spirit, Ursos has a bear spirit, and Lykos has a Wolf.
After I finished designing the character, I wanted to pose him with a weapon, just to see if it adds to the design or clutter's it. Sometimes you need those accessories, weapons, tools to enforce your character, but I felt that adding the scythe might be revealing too much. You have to keep a bit of mystery and not show everything in one go.
As you can see, his scythe is not The Scythe, only the big boss has one of those, and no grim reaper has the right to carry one. Télos is not one to follow the rules, so he made his own using a machete a hockey stick and some ducktape.
I'm going to leave you with this, why do you think there are 3 vails labelled: Anxiety, Depression, Suicide inside Telos's coffin?