I've read the threads about copywrite as it applies to original manuscripts and followed the links explaining why it's best not to register a work before it's published. But what about something that's not a written work?

I'm talking about an original, kid-friendly, character. This particular character looks nothing like any current book or cartoon character that I've seen. I want to start a webpage at some point (still researching that one) and put a few illustrations on it, however I also want to make sure my little guy is protected. (I intend to use him for something at a later date.)

Are the rules different for artwork or character concepts? It's not hard to copy a photo on-line or to "print screen" to duplicate something. Should a unique (at least unique for my purposes) character be registered before it's displayed so that there's a dated certificate on file?