Building Characters and Drawing Techniques

Yesterday, both classes got started on the process of starting to imagine their characters and build their story lines.

For homework, I had asked everyone to choose a character (or characters) that you would like to base a graphic novel around if you were writing your own novel. I asked you to imagine what they might look like, and what they might be up to in modern day Oxford.

You chose a very wide range of characters. Some of you chose Chronos, the Titan in charge of time, and one person imagined that he might run a clock shop, have watches tattooed onto his arms, and be continually making time-based puns! Others went for Nyx, goddess of night, imagining she might live in a high tower. A few of you chose Memnosyne (we made a class decision to call her “Memo” for short!). Two of you chose Oceanus. One of you imagined him living a sort of criminal life, having been relegated by the Olympians!

One of you imagined the Furies, with one being a 999 operator, one being a police officer, and the other a security guard, with all three working together. One of you imagined Gaia as an old lady running a gardening club!

As we discussed the characters as groups, some of you started to spot how your character might interact with another character someone had imagined. This led straight into our next step in the project. I asked you all to team up with one or two others, and create a short (ten or twelve panel) comic imagining how your group of characters might play out a small story in Oxford.

You all got to work on large drawing pads, and started to create some very exciting ideas. Below you can see some of the progress you made.

In the second half of your lesson, we were very lucky to be able to connect virtually with our artist, Lydia. Lydia introduced you to some simple ways of making character sketches vivid and effective. She talked about using a line following the flow of movement to help draw a character.

She also talked about how to use the angles of faces to express their personalities. So a face that was long and with hard edges might represent an old or an fierce character, whereas rounded shapes tended to make faces look younger and more cheerful. Another technique Lydia talked about was exaggeration. For example, if you were drawing the blacksmith god, you might draw giant hands to emphasise his role among the gods.

She also talked about how groups of characters can have the same sort of look, but each character can have distinctive features which make them instantly recognisable. The Simpsons are a very good example of this, with each member of the family having something that is very striking about them.

Finally you were given the challenge of drawing some shapes on your pads, and then turning those shapes into faces or other things. Lydia showed us some examples of shapes she had brought to life. You all then had a go at your own, and came up with some great ideas!

We finished with some questions and answers from Lydia about how the project will work, what sort of art she liked best, how to develop your artwork, and many other things.

We are hugely grateful to Lydia for her time, and will really look forward to working with her next term as you continue to develop your ideas.

Over the half term, please continue to think about how your characters and storylines might develop. I will put a character sheet on SMHW – please complete and submit this by the end of the half term!

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