ABSTRACT Regional seismicity (i.e. that averaged over large enough areas over long enough periods of time) has a size–frequency relationship, the Gutenberg–Richter law, which differs from that found for some seismic faults, the Characteristic Earthquake relationship. But all seismicity comes in the end from active faults, so the question arises of how one seismicity pattern could emerge from the other. The recently introduced Minimalist Model of Vázquez-Prada et al. of characteristic earthquakes provides a simple representation of the seismicity originating from a single fault. Here, we show that a Characteristic Earthquake relationship together with a fractal distribution of fault lengths can accurately describe the total seismicity produced in a region. The resulting earthquake catalogue accounts for the addition of both all the characteristic and all the non-characteristic events triggered in the faults. The global accumulated size–frequency relationship strongly depends on the fault length fractal exponent and, for fractal exponents close to 2, correctly describes a Gutenberg–Richter distribution with a b exponent compatible with real seismicity.