Now, I have noticed that there seem to be a lot of design conflicts on the site regarding that someone has *le gasp!* copied your character. Oh, the humanity! How dare they?! How dare they also have a character set who are only black, white, and red because that makes them so deep and edgy. How dare their animal also have a star/heart/diamond on its forehead? How dare they make a character with rainbow legs/tails?! How dare they have a fursona with a "dark" side when they become enraged? How dare their sparkle fursona be black with lime green, hot pink, and cyan markings?! How. Fucking. Dare. They?!
So, you call them out on their obvious theft of your character, and then things get spicy. You get barraged by an army of white knights. You send your white knights after their white knights. Then, when all that is going on, you get a nice, big taste of "trolling" because you're all probably worked up and obsessing and making "hate art" and public reporting, blocking,
One of the biggest things to avoid are the ever-so-popular, 'dark,' 'edgy,' and 'original' characters whose colour palettes consist of only black, white, and shades of red. Seriously. You see, this isn't because this colour palette is so dull and obnoxiously overused, it's because, if you're trying to be original with your character design, well, it's pretty hard to do so with this colour palette. There's only so many marking combinations you can apply with three colours, thus, leaving a LOT of possibilities for duplicates and highly similar character designs. Now, I'm not saying black, white, and red are hideous together. In the right portions, they can actually look pretty nice. I'm just saying that, if you want a really original-looking character, this should probably be avoided like the plague. (Though, if the animal that you are making has a natural colour scheme that is, in fact, black, white, and a red/reddish colour, then kudos to you for not adding SPARKLEZ KAWAII DESU.)
Speaking of colour don'ts, here's another tasty tidbit of information for you: Stop. With. The. Fucking. Cyan. It's not "beautiful." It's not "unique." It is, in fact, a hideous, neon, (literally) eye-burning colour dropped in the default MS Paint palette that a very good portion of spaggles* either are too lazy to, or don't know how to edit. Now, while we're on the topic of the default MS Paint palette, this would be another thing to avoid sticking to when you're designing your characters, given that everyone has that same colour set, and, chances are, they're using it. Maybe instead of using that neon green they give you, you can add a more blue, yellow, black, white, or grey tint to it using the colour picker. Or, you can always select a colour to edit, click a random spot on the colour picker, and give yourself an entirely NEW, non-basic palette to use. This will give you a very great chance of having a more originally designed character, and avoiding a large, unneeded conflict because someone else also didn't put too much thought into design and just used what they were given.
Finally, my last advice on the colour topic: Rainbows. Yes, we all know your amazing, ttly original, uneek scene/sparkle fursona is overly bisexual because you state it in every journal, deviation they're in, poll, story, etc. We don't need to see that it was pretty much jizzed on by a rainbow to back that up. In fact, here's a little fun fact for you- I personally know a lot of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people- and they actually hate the whole rainbow = gay thing and wouldn't be caught dead with a rainbow on their person, profile, car, etc. Basically, the rainbow isn't really a huge part of what makes them who they are. Anyway, my main reason for bringing up avoiding rainbows as a big aspect of character design is this: They're not original. How many sparkle animals do you see with rainbow tails, hair, legs, armwarmers, horns, makeup, markings, etc.? A lot. If you're going for originality, I really do suggest avoiding them as much as possible. Sure, a collar or charm bracelet or something small like that isn't going into ruin your chances of having a truly unique character, but making all four legs and the tail rainbow will.
This next originality no-no is a pretty big one: Don't give your character an "evil," "dark," "demon," etc. form. To be entirely honest, these alternate forms are just as overdone and overused as the mood ring eyes*. This applies mainly to comic characters (like those horrid Blackblood Alliance wolves), but there's plenty of other characters with them, as well. To bring this into perspective, think of this basic storyline:
[Character] either has friends, or is a loner and takes someone in, at one point. He/she was wronged in the past and wants to avenge his/her [family, friends, village, honor, your choice, really] by going after this villain (who, consequently, has a design mentioned in my first "design no-no" paragraph about black, red, and white, and very likely has red eyes) either alone, with their friends, or by gathering an army. Throughout the story, as he/she continues killing enemies, growing stronger, etc., with pretty much no luck. Then, at one point, they are faced with their main enemy. An epic battle ensues, and the baddie [gets away, seriously injures/kills hero's ally], making the main character so clearly, berserkly enraged, that he/she... they... It's like they're possessed! They're not themselves, their nails/teeth are longer, their eyes are glowing red, some other anatomical changes magically occur, and they have strange, hidden powers that multiply their strength! Yet, when this is all said and done, they remember nothing of the change, like when they killed innocent bystanders, harmed their friends, etc. [insert basic Shounen Anime storyline here.]
Now, what types of character conflicts did I hit dead-on or was pretty damn close to here? Blackblood Alliance? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? InuYasha? Any bad werewolf movie/book when the person has some level of control of when they transform? Naruto? Almost every Anime fanfiction/fancomic out there? The Incredible Hulk? So now do you see my point on avoiding these "dark forms" when trying to be original and have a unique character? (And pulling that "multiple personality" crap is just as bad.)
The last "originality no-no" is probably the simplest one: Avoid geometric shapes as forehead markings. I can not tell you how many "stolen character!!!!!1!!!!eleven!" disputes I have seen because two people both have solid black wolves with white diamonds on their foreheads, or horses with hearts on them, or something. This argument is mainly caused by three key shapes: Stars (both normal and inverted), diamonds, and hearts. Yeah, sure, you may think it's cute, but if you want to avoid these stupid little disputes, don't be so generic with markings. I know, you may not want your character to be considered a "normal" wolf, dog, horse, cat, etc., especially if you're making a comic or writing a story, and want them to stand out, but if you're going to accuse someone of stealing your character based on one teeny tiny spot on the forehead (or sometimes even the chest), then maybe you should seriously reconsider this. To be entirely honest, it's not worth the conflict, trolling, and possible suspensions/bans from deviantART or whatever art site you may belong to.
So, in short, if you don't want to have all of the "trolls," "haters," "jealous peeps," "thieves," etc. to bother you, take my advice and avoid the overly common design methods that are somehow considered "unique." Not only will it save you from ridiculous arguments over both your lack of creativity and the "thief's," but it'll also help you to be taken more seriously, not let your character be completely swallowed in a sea of black, red, and white or rainbows, and generally start to improve your creative skills by getting you to think more "outside the box." Remember, uniqueness isn't caused by slapping "darkness" or rainbows all over something to try really hard to make it stand out, it's about expressing yourself and how unique you and your personality are. Well, except if you fall under the prep, jock, goff***, scene, or emo categories (who are pretty much all clones of the others within their respective cliques). Then you're pretty much fucked.
*Spaggles - The creators of sparkle, scene, emo, or goff animals that are meant to be taken seriously. Mainly mentally deficient 12-16 year olds whose lives are so hard because their mommies and daddies don't treat them like fucking royalty.
**Mood ring eyes - When a character's eyes change colour with their mood. The most common variety is when a character has a list of colours that cover all moods, from happiness to lust to rage. There is even a variety when the only change is that their eyes turn red (or less commonly, black) when they're mad and make no other changes.
***Goff - The precious, "special" little children and teenagers who believe that wearing things like My Chemical Romance tee shirts/hoodies, Hello Kitty paraphernelia, those hideously baggy Tripp pants (with or without the retarded chains/fabric strands/zippers around the pant legs that turn them into capris or shorts), and basically anything found at Hot Topic is Gothic.