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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Educational Strip

Well this is something I never thought I'd be creating let alone enjoying! This was a fun project, which having made a start, I feel I could continue to making this book. It was slow to start this exercise, but once I had gotten in to the swing of things, my confidence grew.


I had little to know knowledge on how I could go about creating this comic strip. I like the idea of being able to do comics but feel intimidated on filling pages full of action, dynamic angles and emotion to name a few. Looking at the incredible work of comic book artists is an insane talent. It's like storyboarding and entire story with the script and the film crew at once. In fact, this may be something that I would like to learn more, and perhaps gain more confidence in creating elaborate illustrations to storyboard an entire story. Graphic Novels are the coolest, but even going to a shop to buy one I find intimidating. Isn't that crazy?!


So with illustrating comic strips being a completely new experience for me, having the subject as puberty made it that little bit difficult. At least only in the first 10 minutes of my research. I didn't even know such books existed, which makes me feel like I missed out on the hilarious efforts of explaining the stages everyone goes through, but not to worry!


Here is a collection of some of the books and pages I pulled out to help guide me through what is typically expected in books that prepare young girls heading towards puberty.


I found it very useful to find the style and tone that is typically used in these books. To me, they seem a bit dated and not hugely stylised. Something I hoped I could change in my own attempt.


I then moved on to researching "tween" characters. I wanted to get an idea of how others had drawn this almost in between age, where they may still have some young features but then have a disproportionate body. Head may still be too big for the body, the feet may be huge, torso area being small whilst legs being long and noodly. I wanted to get a mix of shapes used to create the character but often found they had similarities.



The brief suggests using metaphor and humour within the comic strip to neutralise the awkwardness around the subject. So I decided to take a look at some illustrations that were pretty.. extreme in their ways.



Were these appropriate? Maybe, this generation that seems to be evolving could probably handle some of this, however I think it's best to also maybe give them a fluffy version rather than a baseball bat. I follow a few illustrations that create comics for social media, such as http://www.weinyechen.com/. I also came across Sarah Anderson during this research, with work being seen above. Her comics were relevant to the topic but maybe not the approach I was aiming for. Though I think it would be cool to include the odd page that gives a relatable scenario, just to break the ice! [1] So I often checked in on their pages to help with on filling the strip, learning what works best for this subject.


I cracked on with sketching some characters, beginning with exploring the shapes.




Below sketch of the besties came to be a design I liked, and one that stuck (with adjustments)



I then went further with this concept of the best friends and tried making them seem younger, as if they were at the awkward in between age I mentioned before. I liked the pose and proportions of the sketch on the top left of the below page.


I decided to get this in to photoshop, perhaps I could make some changes here with the quick cut and transform tool until I was satisfied. Here were the first results.


Image on the left is a coloured version of the sketch. It's cute! I'm really pleased with the feet, however they seem to small. A part of this draft felt similar to the style in the books I had found at the beginning, which wasn't my initial plan. I wasn't happy with it.


Something I did find interesting across some other books that I didn't include, was how they of course included diversify, we are all women going through the same stages after all. It felt important to represent all women, as the information is for all. So I too wanted to include this. I decided to try a quick version using the existing design. This felt better, but was the character right? I wanted to go back and sketch some new concepts.



Making a start on what I could potentially put in the comic, I sketched out a few frames. On top of this I defined a character that would come to be part of the story. Here I had fun creating different expressions for her, which I then imagined being in the book to represent the mood swings one can get (and still get). She was perfect!



I made a list of the stages of puberty and decided to go through the stages step by step. I thought it would be good to have the girls take it in turns at discovering the different stages at different times. I imagined that every now and then, the besties would be together and the different stages both girls will have gone through would be evident. Perhaps they would have a little chuckle between each other. So below ginger has learnt that she is going through the growth spurt.


These sketches had the energy I was hoping to achieve. the energy I felt intimidated at the beginning thinking I wouldn't be successful at getting. It's not perfect, but hey, I'm happy with the sketches!



Once I had defined the characters that were to be in the comic, I created a coloured version that would become the image for the cover.



I tried to keep a colour scheme going for each character. Colours that worked well together but also gave a bit of contrast. What I landed with felt natural, nonintrusive and calm. Once I had this set I moved over to Illustrator where I began planning the fonts That I would use throughout.



I wanted a handwritten look that would suit the style of the illustrations. I didn't want the font to seem formal as I felt the audience would feel comfortable with a more casual approach to digesting information. I like all the font's here but didn't feel impactful for a cover, however I can see some of these fonts being used on the pages. I preferred the look on the right for the cover, but felt BODY needed to stand out more. So I looked for a font that still felt hand done and wobbly, but bold with the letters feeling balanced. Below is the result. I picked the colours from the girls and felt this colour combination worked best!


The comic! Below is the final comic which includes the five panels as requested. I do see this as just one page to a bigger comic, so I did make the decision to focus on one stage of the process.



Below is the next stage, and a bonus page for the exercise! I wanted to show how I would use both characters through out the book. I sued the text from the Tampax website to fill in the box below just to make up time. I think I would like to use a bit more casual chat like above, to say hey girl - don't worry! A bit of body positivity.



To recap, I'm pretty pleased with the results of this exercise as mentioned at the beginning. I like the style, the colours and the fonts used. It didn't feel dated, but it also felt timeless.


I didn't use as much as the humour as I'd liked, but I hoped the illustrations were enough to break the awkwardness. I decided to get an opinion from a friend who's daughter is actually at the age of pre-teen. First I asked the advice as a mum and then secondly what her daughter made of it. Was there a face pulled as if embarrassed, or was it fun and easy to look at with no fears.


"omg that looks so good! Kleo said it looks really good and not scary. Some of the things she saw in school scared Sh** out of her. Well done it looks good. Definitely something I wouldn't mind the school giving to Kleo as information instead of some of the stuff."

The reaction was one of no fears, it was easy to process without feeling scared of the journey of becoming an adult. I'm pleased with that, and feel I have created a comic that is successful in its duty. I think I will finish the comic, I love it!


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