Thursday, March 11, 2010

Technique Files: Creating a comic/webcomic

Part 6: Creating characters/Character design

Once you’ve created a place to put them, your story will need characters! How do you decide what they’ll look like? How many do you need? Sound overwhelming? It needn’t be.

The very simplest way to design characters is by making them similar to people you already know. Characters frequently bear some sort of resemblance to their creators and people their creator knows well. As artists we sometimes can’t help it, we need models and friends and family (not to mention ourselves) work cheap! 

Some people really love designing characters and can quickly create a whole lot of them. But can you use all of them in your comic? Another caution here. Too many characters in a story can cause a lot of confusion for your readers, especially if they have foreign or strange-sounding names. Of course YOU know who they are but try and have mercy upon your poor readers. Beyond the main character(s) and a few best friends and/or helpers, try and keep the rest of the cast down to a reasonable number. That way each important character gets more “screen time” and you can tell a better story.

Take some time developing your characters. Think of them as the actors in your own TV series. Just like in a TV series, characters change and develop throughout the season(s). The same will be true for your comic characters. Expect them to grow and change too.

Sometimes certain characters will get their own ideas about how much screen time they would like to have in your comic. Be careful with these attention hogs. They may even start upstaging your hero/heroine. That’s not good! It’s not their comic after all. We had one of these characters in Privateer Princess. His name was Big Atom and for some reason this minor character started appearing more and more often and even began to look like a rival for heroine’s affections as time went on.

This took us completely by surprise but we quickly realized that sometimes it’s ok to allow certain characters grow and change in service of the story. Even if you didn’t plan it initially. Remember that a story is an organic thing that sometimes takes turns you don’t expect.

Next up: Part 7: Learning from the masters

1 comment:

  1. It was always fun to pose for webcomic panels! I'm enjoying this series. :)