In the creation of characters, I sometimes first think of a name, or a purpose.
Like "Agri"... this is a name that came to me once, and it turned out to mean "fire", I believe. I'll have to check that. I had been doing a meditation on my guardian angel, and that's the name that came to me. Her purpose (odd that I should give this angel a feminine persona, when Fire is so male) is to keep watch over me, of course.
Her hair is a molton gold, her eyes are firey blue. She is shaped like a flame, a wisp. She is ephemeral. Perhaps too ephemeral to bring to life.
Sometimes parts of a story nag at you. Could be the story behind a character doll, and then there's a particular type of foot that wants to be made now, with big fat toes, belonging to a pleasant troll who has many friends. I have only made one troll, but in my mind there is a whole lineage following that one, and many others, who have gone beyond the bridges, and are living in forest lands. Few of them steal your gold, though they have been known to do that. Sometimes they just take what you don't need. Anyway... I've seen their feet, and their nose and hands. I've seen what's in their pockets and bags. The wait for my hands to bring them to life... to open their eyes.
It is sort of like shamanism... where one finds their power animal and brings it into one's heart... then gives it life by "dancing the animal".