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

Introducing Your Character

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

Exercise 2

For this exercise I used the opening scene from "Angeliena" that I had included in the first exercise of part 5. The frame is a close up of a hand holding a highly decorated suitcase.

With this opening scene in mind, I was hooked on the idea of including several more close ups to follow that would gradually expose more information about the character. Quite often, suitcases are much of the same when walking through an airport, sometimes making it difficult to find your own when at baggage collection, it is not uncommon to add a little something to make it recognisable to you! As this is the case, I really liked the idea of the suitcase being really kitsch with keyrings, stickers and other accessories. I felt that opening with such a close up that showed some element of customising was like a window into the personality of the character it belonged to. For me, it meant the person cared about the details, and cared about their luggage in a way that it was suggesting that travel was important to them and having it so personal was because it was used often, or that expressing oneself through customising felt like an act of creativity, also sharing insight to the mind of the character. Whatever it might be, this idea of having a personal touch on belongings really helped with developing a character. It was with that in mind that had hooked me on the idea of continuing those close ups to show that it wasn't just the suitcase that would be heavily embodied with kitsch accessories, I wanted this to be seen on the shoes, the hands and then finally revealing the entire character. It also seemed like a fun idea to exaggerate the amount of accessories.

It started with making a few changes to the original first opening frame. Without thinking too much, I started drawing cute stickers and a dangly key chain that would hang from the handle. as the hand was partially visible for holding the case, I added a few rings that I hoped would also add to the love of accessorising. Once I had a sketch down, the story of the character came to me. I've grown to be quite a lover of Japan, their style in clothing, art, design and of course, anime, to name a few. This interest in to Japan culture has made me really curious about their lives and personalities in the modern society. I love their expression through fashion, subculture and more, it's really fascinating. So naturally, my thoughts was to have the character be a mega fan of Japan culture, perhaps with a close love for the Kawaii Style and Manga.

My question for this story was, what if the character was travelling to Tokyo for the first?

My first draft came really quickly. I loved the expression in the character who was excited to see the gate had opened for her flight to Tokyo. It also felt very anime in the style I had drawn it in, which I was also enjoying.

Was it kitsch enough? I was happy with this piece and decided to go ahead with outlining the panels with a black brush pen.

The build up in the frames was somewhat how I had imagined it would be. The hands, then the show and then showing the passport with some stickers would not only be an extra element for the customising, but to clarify that this person is travelling. It also gave the first clue as to where they would be travelling. Given that the poses in each frame are static, I thought that waiting for the boarding sign to show would be a typical scenario that one would be waiting for, it also prolonged the reveal of the character, to which bursts in the final scene showing excitement from seeing the gate open.

Overall I was pleased with the piece. I think it was successful in how I had incorporated the opening scene into the rest of the story. Do I think it could be better? Well, I always think I could do better, it's only natural! Yes, yes I do think I could improve this, or at least wish I could!

Perhaps I didn't make it kitsch enough? Perhaps she needed more accessories? Maybe I needed another close up of a rucksack that had more charms, manga books and other things to suggest the specific interest in Japan. Maybe there wasn't enough action in the frames? Could I have her in the centre of a crowded airport, glowing in colour whilst the people around were plain and grey? Should I include more background?

I certainly had the thoughts of how I could improve this. For now, I was happy to leave it there and allow those thoughts of how I could push the drawing further be the inspiration for the next piece. Perhaps this is just a lesson about my process, and how I tend to only scratch the surface of something that could be more should I allow myself to not hold back. Or, maybe I just think I am further on in my skills when really this is just what I am capable at this present time... I'm ok with that.


After Feedback

I wanted to include this piece as one of my final works that would be presented in the Assignment, however it didn't feel to be a lot of work to present! The feedback from my tutor was very positive for this exercise, saying quote:

"Your sequence has great energy and flow, and the panel-to-panel continuity, despite being quite fragmented, is very readable."

This gave me the confidence in believing that what I had produced was in fact, enough. It didn't need more to be done, though I still wondered what if... What if I did dress the character up more? What if I did add action to the sequence?

worried I was going to butcher the work, I thought I would just have a go at sketching other scenarios that could introduce the same character. I just wanted to explore the idea a little.

One direction I took it involved more action, less close ups and a little background crowding to suggest the busy location. If in colour, this would be an opportunity to make the character stand out in the crowd, showing her overall brightness rather than focusing on the close details.

There are elements that I liked in this piece, however, I felt it had lost the sense of introduction and resulted in something more narrative. The sequence felt as though we may have already had the introduction, and now seeing her begin her travels as she joins the queue. This was far away from my original idea, not that I think it is a bad sequence, it just didn't do the right job for this exercise. I also felt worried she was actually not as visible as she always had people around her in each panel.

I tried again, this time attempting to find a line between the action and the close up, using what I had sketched so far.

In this version I tried a different outfit on the character in an attempt to give more bold personality in their styling. I really wanted suggest the love from Kawaii style, which is more evident on the suit case in the second "walking" panel. I created a moodboard of some Kawaii inspiration, showing the OTT use of kitsch accessories. It's like full on plastic!

But in changing the top, I lost the tucked in detail with the chains being visible on the jeans. not sure if this is any better than the original, and I am not convinced the build up I had created in the first version is still present in this.

I am wondering if this was a pointless practise in trying to add more in this exercise. Although it does feel good to have explored the options. Had I improved the fragmented sequence as described in feedback, or had I lost something simple in my attempts.

If the exercise wasn't about introducing a character, I might favour the first sequence created after feedback where there was more action and narrative. I did prefer the idea of revealing a little of the character in each panel, and with that version you see her very early on. Maybe that also works as an introduction? Though when I think of how film, animation and comics might introduce a character, I imagine it in stages, timed with background chaos or other elements that create the narrative. For example, the character walks through the library before you are fully introduced. This walk might begin with the feet, it might then give a few "b-roll" shots of the library, people reading and peering over the pages to catch a glimpse, then it might show the hand of the character as they select a book, then we may only see the back of the character as they walk down the aisle and then another shot of them placing the book on the counter to check out, giving a full view of what the book is giving us a little insight of what the character is interested in, I then imagine that, after the librarian has given them a look, sorted the book and handed it over, it is then that we get the full introduction of the character. It is this build up of setting the scene, giving a glimpse of the character until the final reveal that I had in mind for this. I think I achieved this, but I think the limitation of four panels is where I have become unsure about the sequence as a whole. Adding another 2 panels could help with mixing in the action yet still hitting those key frames that set the scene and the close up.

If anything, I think it is good practise to explore these stages. If anything it will only confirm that the first choice was a good one! I continued with the most recent version, and now I was thinking of applying colour.

Bearing in mind the colours that are often seen in the kawaii, or the really child like styling as seen in the moodboard, they are either bright with primary colours or bright with pastels. I wondered if adding colour to the comic would this also help bring it to the next level. An artist I had discovered came to mind when thinking of colouring in this comic. Their use of colour and the colour palettes they would use was what really made me think of them. I thought they would be great inspiration for this project!

Artwork by Elora Pautrat

I picked out a few of the colours and added a pastel version of them, then attempted to colour it. I wanted to keep this as "sketch" rather than trying to create the final piece, treating it like the preliminary stage before making final decisions on going on to creating the "final piece". It's the decision making stage, experimenting with colours and seeing what sits good with what.

I'm not overly happy with the way it looks, but I'm pleased with how I developed this sequence and even considered the colour styling. Overall I think it was great practise!


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