A crucial part of any story is its cast, the characters who are participating in the narrative. They are the vessels that will carry the story along, bring it alive, and make it relatable to readers.
One of the joys of storytelling is having an audience empathize and relate to the people in the story. These feelings are usually evoked through the characters’ actions and emotional responses. In a visual medium, like storyboarding, these are communicated by appearance. This is one reason it is important to take advantage of body language communication when creating a storyboard.
Body language is the unspoken communication between humans that allows us to connect with others and pick up subtle hints about those around us. It is a huge part of first impressions!
When it comes to visual representations of stories, it is important to convey as much as you can with the imagery, so that very little explanation is needed through text. When you have a confined amount of space, the storyboard cell, it is important to plan how to effectively convey your message and not waste valuable space.
This is exactly what body language can do. By using recognizable positions and faces, the need to support the story with text or dialogue is reduced. Visual storytelling can also be enhanced by character positioning because it can show the personality or motives of a character, or re-enforce plot.
Imagine a story about a girl sitting at a table with a cone of ice cream. By using the character poser and applying it to our protagonist, we can convey a lot of different messages.
Here is a very basic break-down of conveying emotion through body language.
Also we have helpful Insta-poses that are pre-programmed to put characters in certain positions appropriate for actions or emotions! Use these as guides to pose your characters, but feel free to experiment. Think about mixing and matching arm positions with facial features since it can create very different results and portray complex emotions.
A rule of thumb is that inward facing positions (arms across chest or touching face; legs in a nervous position or kneeling) give off a negative feeling, such as doubt or insecurity. Outward facing position are confident and powerful. Keep this in mind when trying to show your character’s feelings. If they are really angry instead of just annoyed, try using outward facing arms or putting the hips on the hands to show dominance and force!
Choosing the appropriate body positions is important, but it is also essential to take advantage of the different views of the characters.
A storyboard can be improved tremendously by thoughtful character placement and body positioning.
Take a look at this example:
Through strategic positioning of characters in the scene and simple tweaks of arm positions and body angles, you can communicate the feel of the story more effectively.
So go ahead and take the first step to bringing out the personality of the characters in your storyboard!
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