Here are two character turn arounds. The first one was for an animation lip sync exercise starring myself (it never was realized because I switched my major to illustration). The second was to be for a push pull exercise in 3D.
So as the previous post mentions, a common problem that young artists find themselves in is creating similar characters or ideas over and over again (including myself). Here is an exercise with several techniques in learning to break out of that mold and create fresh character designs.
First I created hundreds of abstract shapes in photosphop, corel painter, or alchemy (I recommend downloading the free program here: http://al.chemy.org/) You can also use paper and ink, marker, or paint.
Next I created hundreds of abstract linear designs using photoshop or corel painter. If you use photoshop try downloading and using a chalky or pencil brush. Again you can just work traditionally with paper and pencil.
The last technique was to find images with and abstract theme or design to them such as: carpet stains, clouds, wood, stone. The more you find the better.
I then put all three pages of abstract images into photoshop. In each image I turned the opacity down to 50% or less, then created a new layer on top. On this top layer I began to sketch over the images that looked like something to me. You can also rotate individual designs around to see if anything pops out to you. Again, the more you do, the better.
Here are a few of my results:
Finally, I picked out the designs I liked the most or where the most out of my comfort zone and cleaned up the line work and then rendered them in photoshop in black and white. Perhaps at a later time I'll go back and render them better in color or do this exercise all over again.