Comic Making: Body Language and Getting Up Close and Personal with Characters


Weird title, right? Well, I promise it's not what you think.

This week, I continued my comic coloring adventures, which I'm sure I will regale you with at some point in a blog. However, this will not be that blog. No, this week I also began scripting my next chapter and doing some exercises to get more familiar with my main characters' motivations and themes and ensuring I will be able to create effective chemistry between all of my characters, both romantic and platonic.

So, voila! Just the McKay and Gray video I needed to listen to.

Alright, so I mentioned previously that this comic will be based on a story I began writing a little over eight years ago. I am pretty familiar with my characters, but after listening to this video, I wanted to see if I could use McKay's method to identify if my characters would have the chemistry I intended for them.

He breaks it down like this: each character has a primary want that motivates them and determines their choices throughout the story. That want can be paired with a need, known or unknown to the character, that another character is able to fill in some way. When characters wants and needs intersect positively or negatively, that's where character chemistry happens.

I also reread the chapter in Scott McCloud's, Making Comics about expression and body language and how comic artists can use it effectively to communicate character's thoughts, intentions, and feelings more clearly, without the use of text.

He discusses how the body language between two individuals indicates desired intimacy. For example, Character 1 with crossed arms or legs and leaning away from Character 2 indicates that Character 1 would clearly rather be anywhere else. However, if Character 2 is angled toward Character 1 and placing a hand on Character 1's shoulder, Character 2 is clearly not taking the hint.

On the other hand, if expressions are open and bodies are leaning toward one another, clearly the desire for intimacy, mental, emotional or physical, is mutual.

This chapter also discussed how facial expressions, body language, and hand gestures combined can alter the way you might read character dialogue.

When you read a comic or a graphic novel, this stuff is often so natural that you might barely even notice it. That means the artist is doing their job of creating believable interactions between characters. This is hella difficult. A frame or page that takes you a few seconds to read took an artist hours to plan, draw, pencil and color.

Curious, I reopened one of my favorite stories.

(I know, I know. I'm obsessed with Dragon Age. It's not a secret, okay!) I wanted to see how the talented artists who worked on this gem used the tools that Scott described and I wasn't disappointed. If you're a young aspiring comic artist, I recommend you do something similar using a story you've already read.

I say a story you've already read because I noticed so much detail I had missed the first time through because I was wrapped up in the story. That and it was interesting to look at each frame and each page and puzzle out why the artists made the design choices they did.

Lastly, a little peek at some of the coloring work I've started this past week.

Next week, I'll share more with you on my page progress and growth and how it only happens when working is PAINFUL.

#comics #comicmaking #characterdesign

14 views