So a while back I was toying around with different methods of creating seamless textures. The technique itself worked out pretty well, although I found my use of image-based textures and displacement needs a bit of work (I usually favor procedural textures).
While doing this I stumbled across something I thought was pretty neat. When starting the seamless-ness between different images- or in this case altered versions of itself- I generate a black and white image; The black is where it blends and white is where they're too different to blend. While I was painting away the different areas I started seeing shapes and faces and characters like you would with clouds. It seems like it might be a creative and unbiased way of designing characters. This was the original character I saw when working on the texture pictured above:
I haven't had too much time to play around with it but I did do a few more. These were from scraps of nuts, bolts, and washers.
What's interesting is how much the principles of design and rudimentary elements come into play. If I were looking for warm, fuzzy characters I could create these abstract black and white images that were generated from warm fuzzy textures. Then as I search through these random blobs they tend to take on those characteristics. Same goes for sharper more aggressive characters. I really don't think my examples do this method much justice. It might be very good to help break someone away from their habits and create some very unique things, but that's just a theory.
Another theory is it's a lot like a Rorschach ink-blot test; the sort of mood or frame of mind you're in will determine the type or style of characters you might find. I haven't had the time to really explore this, but I thought I'd share anyways.