Note: This project is adapted from a Lynda Barry project in her fantastic book Making Comics.
This exercise has two goals:
1. Help students get out of their character comfort zone! Often when we make characters, we reach for the same shapes – for heads, bodies, eyes, and other features – meaning that a lot of our characters end up looking suspiciously similar to each other! This can make it difficult for your reader to tell your characters apart – which can make a comic very confusing!
This exercise aims to encourage you to try different, weird, and silly shapes to make your characters – and see how quickly they take on their own personalities.
2. Help students make connections between how a character is drawn (external character) and who they are (internal character). Of course, in real life, we can’t necessarily tell much about a person by looking at them. But in comics, animation, and other forms of visual storytelling, everything has meaning: what shapes a character’s face and body are made of, what they’re wearing, even how they stand or the background we put them in front of.
This exercise challenges students to “read” the characters they make – what personalities does each tiny portrait suggest? What can we learn about a character based just on how they’re drawn?