Who Are These People Anyway?
Character Sheets for Wordless Book
First image, character sheet for Anna, the main character.
In this post, I wanted to share the beginning stages for a wordless book I’m working for Books Beyond Words. I started with figuring out who the characters were by creating lots of little thumbnails on how they might look, and then working up the character sheets I’m posting here. It helps me to work out expressions (the main ones dictated by the story) and different viewpoints ahead of time, so when I am doing the initial thumbnails, then sketches, I don’t have to think, oh, I wonder what this character looks like from behind, the side, sad, angry, happy, I have it. I also like to have a feel of what type of gestures they might take or do, or clothes they might wear. In my ideal world I would do what Alison Bechdel talks about in her LaydeezDoComics podcast, posted 1 January 2013; create a sketchbook/notebook ahead of time with all the character sketches, places where they live or go, thoughts for scene colour themes, floor plans for houses and whatever else I think it needs in it. As it happens, some of these character sheets happened before the thumbnails and first narrative sequence pass, and some later. The main characters I needed to identify with first where Anna (the main character) and James, her brother. Interestingly, Books Beyond Words don’t always assign characters names right away. As each narrative sequence and colour theme goes through an approval process with the authors (a panel of experts in their field) the editor, publisher and focus groups trials, they allow for names to emerge. Anna and James are names that came to me. Who knows, maybe they’ll stick?
Second character sheet
This is James, Anna’s brother. There is talk that James will have a book of his own in the future. He is very important to Anna and is actually one of the stabilizing elements in her life. This book is about the cycle of abuse in families and how it continues in choices made by children raised in these conditions. Something very close to me. My family background includes generational alcohol abuse.
Third character sheet
Anna’s boyfriend. He is a charming, sweep you off your feet type of guy. (Yep, I know him.) Things do move very fast for them, and really, that is not an exaggeration in these types of relationships where patterns are repeated before we figure out how to not do it!
Fourth Character Sheet
Anna and James’ mom, or mum as it’s said here in the UK. I see her as someone who project on the outside, a bit glamorous, dressed well, and is all about keeping up appearances of a home with ‘nothing wrong here’ attitude. She lives in denial and when things go wrong, they go really wrong.
Fifth Character Sheet
Dad. He holds down a job. Puts food on the table, and he drinks, a lot. Dinners are mine fields for disaster. James has already left home unable to cope with his role of attempting to protect his mother and sister from his father’s alcoholic outbursts.
First colour theme for first scene
I’m able to show this first scene, because it’s already changed! This is a colour strip for the colour theme that will be used in this first scene that opens the book. We are now in our third pass on the narrative structure, fine tuning the emotions, gestures and positioning of the characters acting out this family drama. I’ve not talked about the places where the actors or characters will act, that will be another post.
You may have noticed that I use a blue pencil for sketching. It is a habit I got into years ago working on hand drawn animation. For those of you who love to hear about materials: I use a Prismacolor Co-erase blue pencil that you can order through Amazon. The lead is soft and has the right texture for different types of line weights. So far, on this project, I’ve gone through 18 pencils!
See full post here: ardent, patient, persistent2013-12-24.