Welcome back, creators. In the Step 1, we reviewed how to plan a story idea for an 8-Page Story. In Step 2, we looked at how to break down your pages and plot. In Step 3, we worked on plot revisions.
In Step 4, things start to get real. Because in this step, the artist and the writer start to collaborate on character designs. It is one of my favorite parts of the process!
About Character Designs and Design Sheets
The character design is a creative exploration that must be shared by the writer and the artist. As a writer, you’ll need to be clear about who your character is, so that the artist can properly visualize the character. As an artist, you need to use your talents and skills to discover the truth of how this character moves on the page.
Character sheets are useful tools that will allow the writer and the artist to have a shared creation. It is something of a shared language that manifests through pose and expression.
In this step, you will create at least two and up to four character sheets for each character. If appropriate, you will also begin to add visual cues about the environment that they inhabit.
Step 4: Draw These Poses
On the first character sheet, explore your character from at least three poses, including:
On the second character sheet, explore poses and expressions, including:
Optional Poses to Consider Drawing
Feeling inspired? I hope so. As the writer keeps working, the artist should continue to explore the characters and the environment. This will be important later, as the script starts to take shape. As an artist, you’ll want some practice drawing your characters in situations that will appear in the script.
Need to draw horses, houses, or high schools? Get started now, so you’re not rushing later. Here are a few thought starters:
- Put your main 3-4 characters on one page, showing their height and weight differences
- Put your main character in some relevant location or situation
- Put your main opposing characters in a relevant combat or conflict pose
- Draw your main character in a situation where they interact with their environment (e.g., playing basketball, fixing a car, stopping a train, etc.)
Back in the days when I worked at Wizard: The Guide to Comics, the editors would do a “Casting Call” to visualize who would play a particular superhero in a movie. The editors would look for actors and actresses who would be logical visual choices because they resembled the characters.
I do this “casting call” when I work on an original comic book creation too. It’s a great way to help the artist to understand who would put on the cape to play your hero (or whatever type of story you’re telling). The speech patterns and body language of these actors can also play an important part in helping your artist to find the right pose or angle on the page.
Sometimes it’s fun to just get on a call and brainstorm actors and actresses who would play your characters in a movie. Find photos and video clips. Create a shared folder where you both save images and inspiration.
Examples of Character Sheets
The Internet is loaded with sample pages for character designs. These were pulled from random social media sites and are copyright and trademark their respective owners.
Here are a few additional places to find examples:
Share Your Work
It’s a little tricky, but you can share images on our message boards. Yes, it’s not the most intuitive interface, but you will find an “Attach” button at the bottom of every post. You can attach up to 10 images at a time.
Please proceed to Step 4 in the forums. Share your character designs.
About the Comic Book School 8-Page Challenge
Read Step 1: How to Create a Story Idea
Read Step 2: How to Break Down the Plot for Your Story
Read Step 3: How to Revise Your Plot
Read the announcement for the 8-Page Challenge
Register on the Comic Book School forums and post your story idea.
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