Here we are at Step 3! It's time to give your characters a little face time. You may have been creating character studies all along--that's great. Although we've divided the challenge up into steps so we can discuss different stages more easily, putting a story together is a fluid process. Wherever you are in your story, what we'd like to encourage you to do in the next two weeks is to let go of the responsibilities of plot, message and theme, and really focus on your characters visually.
Your goal is to become thoroughly familiar with expressions, clothes, and body language. The more specific you can be about your characters, the more opportunity you offer your reader (or viewer/listener) to identify with them. Research details of clothing, fur, feathers or scales. Pick out defining features to emphasize. And don't neglect secondary characters: no one in your book should be generic. Supporting characters say a lot about the main characters, indirectly, and can even generate visual subplots of their own.
Last year, we pointed out that cartoonists are masters of character development, and gave you some references you might find useful, whatever your style. These books/links are listed again, below.
But this year we have a special treat--tune into the blog on Wednesday (February 15), for a guest post from the multi-talented writer/illustrator/animator/musician/ puppeteer/swell guy John Lechner, whose thoroughly believable and engaging characters include a parasitic seed pod and a clever stick. He's mastered the art of drawing a reader in to the most unlikely situations: I defy you to dip into any of the online adventures of Sticky Burr and NOT end up caring about the little fellow and all his friends in Burrwood Forest.
John's wit and humor shine through his characters. He'll be here to share the importance of getting to know yours better before you send them out into the world.
I can't wait.
Happy sketching, everyone--and be sure to join us at #kidlitart on Thursday, February 16, for a #PBDummy chat to discuss John's tips and update fellow dummiers on your progress!
Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels, by Scott McCloud
The Art of Animal Character Design, by David Colman
Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures, Volumes i & II, ed. by Don Hahn
Character Design: a blog devoted to interviews with character designers
*Please feel free to share your own favorite go-to resources in the comments section.