Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Another interesting and practical advice to doing comic strip characters (which also applies to other cartoon characters be it in animation or comic books) is the matter of knowing who they are inside and out. Come up with stereotypical characters at the start could provide enough fuel to blast your work into the stratosphere but maintaining your altitude after a couple of issues or episodes is a different story. By then you would have to introduce a new facet in your character. So how you do you go about it? Any good artist would first start off with model sheets of your characters. Now the most popular form of model sheets are the ones animators use to pin up in front of them as they work which show the different angles and guides to drawing the character in the correct and consistent manner. But the sort of model sheet that would work best for all concerned would not only feature the drawings but also include a number of facts and backgrounders about those characters as well (an excellent example could be seen here at The World of Vicki Fox and another one here at The Class Menagerie).

Those of you who might be saying to yourself that creating a character model sheet is too much work, sad to say, may not be cut out to work in the comic biz in the long haul. Knowing your characters inside and out would serve you well to realize that way your characters react to their situation is based solely on what their temperaments are and what they know at the time. It's not enough to create bullies or wimps but you should be well prepared to answer how they got to be that way. What do they like? What are they like? I betcha wouldn't believe me if I told you that the clothes your characters wear reflect the personalities of who and what they are. I got the idea from reading an interview with movie costume designer, Milena Canonero when asked how she came up with the ideas for designing the costumes for the characters of Oceans 12. The same goes for their hobbies and recreational activities. These are just a fraction of details that help plod your comic strip along but in the long run, those are the exact things that endear your characters to your readers and help you differentiate one character from the other (in case you have lots of 'em in one title).

* Next up in the series: Investing in materials to expand your character.

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