20xx Character Design Process
I started off with some basic things I wanted to get down: colour themes, body types, and perhaps some shape themes as well. I really like talking and thinking over recurring themes or motifs or the like, but I sometimes worry I'm then reducing my ideas or characters to a formula than judging their merits on their own.
The way I see it though my characters all have roles to fulfil in my stories, so really, you can't separate them from the context that is their story. Having a theme to things also helps with early development like this, as I can create relationships or personality keywords to then brainstorm off of. Sometimes a character just comes to mind, and sometimes this is the easier route.
I didn't really follow through with the shapes with this sketch, I don't think. I thought over some outfit concepts, but at this point I had no real idea of the characters' backstories or roles except The Mutt, The Rat, and The Dragon's. Since the characters themselves were still in early formation, it couldn't be said that their appearances were indicative of them...
... and really with the final references that might still apply. While I was drawing these I was only barely referencing the early sketches. Some characters' outfits changed, however many gained a lot more depth through inspiration by drawing them. The Crow's expression giving me an idea of her personality and backstory, being the most surprising example.