“Everyone is born an artist, It’s just that some people don’t nurture it,” said Shihab Aldeen, a Sudanese animator, character designer and storyboard artist. Shihab is presenting a series of workshops for comic artists during the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival which is taking place between October 18 to 23.
In a first workshop ‘creating characters for comics’, Shihab taught the participants how to build a complete picture for their comic characters. The first step, Shihab said was to decide who is it aimed at? “Who is the audience? Are they mostly male or female? Where do they live?” He encouraged them to select names that are more international in order for the character to have success across the borders.
He also encouraged them to think about how the character lives, its quirks and subtleties as well as developing a backstory. Research is also very important, according to Shihab. “Be original but get inspired. If you find something you like and you want to use it, change it and make it your own,” he said.
When it comes to drawing characters Shihab said that exaggeration is key. “Look at the Simpsons - big yellow head with big eyes. It’s a memorable image,” he said.
Shihab also said that getting feedback from those around you is important. “Don’t just ask them if they like it. Ask them what they see, what you can change and what don’t they like,” he said.
Attending the workshop was Sujith Gopalkrishnan, Associate Professor in the School of Media and Communications at Manipal University and some of his students. “I was keen to bring them because I wanted them to get more industry exposure. It was great that they learnt the do’s and don’ts of creating comic characters,” he said.
One of his students, Fatima Rahman, a 3rd year student and who attended the workshop, said that one of the things she learnt was that line drawing provides a great deal of flexibility. Fatima, who did a comic strip for the university’s blog during her first year, said: “It was also great to learn about building the character’s background and positioning them in a way that gives them depth.”