When it comes to cosmetics and characteristics for my characters I often like to visit all ends of the spectrum. A lot of my ideas about characters are influenced by books too. I tend to read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, so it’s quite easy for me to create backstories for different role/class archetypes.
My "paragon" minded characters tend to be, in my mind at least, shield using burly warriors and if possible have some sort of paladin/holy magic to boot. If anyone has read the Coldfire trilogy by Celia Friedman, the character of Damien Vryce is very much like my ideal hero warrior type.
On the other side of the fence, I like the idea that magic wielders are more susceptible to the “dark side” and so I tend to imagine them as fallen heroes or people who were wronged and took the wrong paths, and well beyond redemption.
Then finally, my favourite ideas are anti-heroes/villains. The ones who are mostly either good or bad but have a streak of the opposite in there too. Like a barbarian type who is generally out to do good, but far from squeamish about brutally destroying his enemies and stealing as long as no one finds out about it. The kind of person who won’t think twice about killing someone who has wronged them. Very much Riddick-esque or perhaps, again book inspired, a lot like Logen Ninefingers from The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Or again, the other side of the coin, the villain who will kill, murder and pillage but occasionally lets his conscience slip in and show some act of mercy. Very much like a character from the same trilogy mentioned earlier, the Coldfire trilogy, a character called Gerald Tarrent.
I would also recommend all of the above mentioned trilogies if you’re into fantasy reading. They’re not as popular but similar to the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb.