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Teaching Comic Strips Rick Instrell Deep Learning firstname.lastname@example.org Version 1.0 1 June 2013 Association for Media Education in Scotland
Multimodal Approach All communication is multimodal Every communication fulfils 3 functions: Ideational function (ideas, experiences) Interpersonal function (audience engagement) Textual/compositional function (unifying modal elements to fulfil other two functions) To analyse and create multimodally means understanding how modal elements are co-ordinated to engage the audience and communicate meaning
Modes A mode is a communication resource: Image Words Audio (music, sound, dialogue) Lettering Colour Layout (on a page or through time i.e. editing) Body language Interaction Sensations (e.g. touch, smell) Movement Lifelikeness …
Lifelikeness Can think of cartoon style as existing on a linear scale: Caricature Abstraction Realism Characters and setting may be similar or different in how lifelike they are
COMIC STRIP TERMINOLOGY Title Panel/frame Speech bubble Sound effect/ SFX Bleed Symbols/ emanata A CAPTION IS A BOX USED (USUALLY RECTANGULAR) FOR NARRATION: e.g. “MEANWHILE…” Speed/ motion lines Gutter TEXT IS USUALLY ALL IN CAPITALS
Cartoon Strip as Medium Cartoon strip: page-based story-telling through a sequence of frames containing text and images Because comic strip is a sequence of frames similar to a filmed sequence of shots it uses film conventions: use of shot distance (ELS, LS, MS, MCU, CU, ECU) and angle (high, straight, low, canted); zoom in/out; shot-reverse shot; eyeline match Direction: left-right, top-bottom (in West) Black and white or colour All strips use similar basic conventions Comic strip artistry comes from: breaking basic conventions in expressive ways to represent character, emotion, situation, action distinctive artwork and lifelikeness cultural/intertextual references in image and language
Cartoon Strip Structures Micro-structures: inter-frame relationships: shot-reverse shot, zoom in/out, repetition, contrast, Q/A, moment-moment, action-action, subject-subject, scene-scene, aspect-aspect, non-sequitur, flash-forwards, flashback, … Macro-structures: Consistent style; narrative structure e.g. beginning (setting/ characters/ actions), middle (problem, effect), possible solution/cliffhanger Comic strip narrative structure is often similar to that of mainstream film and television e.g. 4-act structure (setup, complication, development, resolution) So comic strips are a good place for pupils to start the study of narrative
Manga Style that tries to make the audience identify with rather than simply observe action Iconic rather than realistic faces Strong sense of place e.g. near photographic real world detail Subjective effects e.g. motion lines, low/high angle Broad range of character designs Expressive design e.g. big close-ups, expressionistic montages and backgrounds
Analysing a Comic Strip Analyse a comic strip: Identify modal elements & their connotations/reasons for use Identify genre and target reader Identify stages in the narrative Evaluate artistry (degree of lifelikeness, artwork, use of repetition & contrast, expressive breaking of basic conventions) Evaluate representations e.g. stereotypes, non-stereotypes
Creating a Comic Strip 1. Pre-production planning Identify purpose, target audience and genre Create, evaluate and redraft storyboard Decide on degrees of lifelikeness of characters and settings 2. Production Collect/capture/create bank of images Edit and store images in folder 3. Post-production Use appropriate software to create and redraft comic strip Print and save in format for distribution (e.g. pdf)
Six-Panel Storyboard From Marchant, S. (2006) The Computer Cartoon Kit (with CD-ROM of images). Lewes: Ilex. Digital images & instructions provided!
Design Need to decide the style in terms of degrees of lifelikeness of characters and setting
Digital production Creating/capturing/editing/storing images of characters, actions, props, settings based on style decisions Need some images to be cut-outs i.e. have transparent backgrounds which do not obscure the background
Cut-outs CD-ROMs from Ilex may provide cut-outs Some websites provide cut-outs e.g. Looney Tunes clip art (these copy and paste into PowerPoint but not ComicLife Making background transparent can be done using advance software such as Adobe Photoshop or the cheaper Adobe Photoshop Elements and Gimp (free) On-line tools are available to simplify the making of cut-outs e.g. free on-line image editor Lunapic
Cut-outs with Lunapic Go to www.lunapic.com Click on Upload then Browse to locate and load your image Select Edit>Transparent from menu bar (the Fuzz figure – default 5% - allows you to change the range of pixel colour to be removed (100% removes all pixels) Click on area that you want to make transparent (a fuzz factor of 5% will remove all pixels 2.5% lighter/darker than the one you choose Repeat 3 and 4 until desired area transparent (alter fuzz factor if area is a gradient fill) Select File>Save Image and choose Save as PNG A message appears at foot of screen. To the right of the Save button click on the down arrow and choose Save As… . Give the file a meaningful name and save it in a folder in the Pictures folder (on a PC Pictures is the default image folder for many other graphics programs) N.B. If the surround colour is similar to colours in the part of the image you want it may make part of this transparent. This may need creative thinking for a workaround or better software!
Post-Production Use of DTP program (e.g. Microsoft Publisher)or comic strip program (e.g. Comic Life) to produce comic and add text
Evaluation Evaluate in terms of: Purpose Audience engagement Compositional unity Technical proficiency Artistry
On-line Resources Graphic novelist Anina Bennett’s website Big Red Hair. Education Scotland on-line resource on comics & graphic novels. Comic scholar Mel Gibson’s website . Looney Tunes clip art (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck et al). Marvel Comics on-line. Gilles Poitras provides librarians & teachers with up-to-date resources on manga & anime.
Software These are straightforward programs: (i.e. they avoid steeper learning curve for advanced tools like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements): ComicLife 2.2.6 for PC/Mac, $29.99 from http://plasq.com/ Microsoft PowerPoint plus Microsoft Snipping Tool ToonDoo, free online comic creator athttp://www.toondoo.com/Home.toon
Books Bowkett, S. and Hitchman, T. (2012) Using Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing. London: Routledge. Helsby, W. (2005) Children’s Comics: A Teacher’s Guide & Classroom Resources. Leighton Buzzard: Auteur Publishing. Marchant, S. (2006) The Computer Cartoon Kit (with CD-ROM of images). Lewes: Ilex. Ilex Books has collections of digital clip art. McCloud, S. (1993) Understanding Comics. New York: HarperCollins. McCloud, S. (2006) Making Comics. New York: Harper.