Character Studies? Yes, Please!
Proof of ConceptAs explained above, once we have developed a character that we feel confident in, the Character Study can then commence. So, what's the next logical step? Expressions, expressions, expressions! Facial expressions, to be exact. This stage can be called "Proof of Concept", because, at this point, we must prove that the character can emote in a way that would make an audience care. Empathy and pathos are key here. Simply put, if an audience can't empathize, or relate with, the character, they won't feel a connection with it, and then we'll lose their attention. This can be because they'll be too distracted by issues with characteristics that, deep down inside, they know are fundamentally wrong. Ultimately, this means that their focus is no longer on the story, and so the story fails. On the other hand, just the opposite is true. If we can, succeed at developing a personality that "makes sense", if the character embodies a type of quality that viewers believe actually exists, then we will have managed to succeed at designing an appealing and memorable character. A good tip to help you uphold this concept is to study the world around you. If you're suffering from artist's block and you can't quite come up with any expressions that you feel are unique and magnetic, perhaps it's time to put the pencil, stylus or mouse down and take a stroll through the park, lounge or mall. Places like these are gold mines, because they are often filled with all sorts of personality-types. You're bound to come up with a few great ideas. After this step, you're more than likely familiar enough with the character to began the next and "final" stage which is body language.
Body LanguageSo, at this point you should know your character well enough to communicate what it's feeling through pantomime. Create as many full-body gestures as possible that communicate what the character is thinking or feeling. Again, like our "Proof of Concept" phase, we should be able to have the character express itself in a way that hits home for the audience. Before you begin, ask yourself questions like:
- What would be the best pose to uphold the integrity of the character's nature?
- Is the character an introvert or extrovert? Depending on the answer to this question, how would the character react to being surrounded by a people they are and aren't familiar with?
- What would be the character's demeanor during a subway ride home? Would they prefer to stand or sit? If they like to stand, would they grasp tightly to the overhead handle to prevent themselves from falling over, or are they the adventure-type that refuses to use any support, overly confident that their "innate" ninja abilities are all they need to remain balanced. Or, if they prefer to sit, would they pull out a book to read, or headphones to listen to their favorite music to keep them calm because they dread public places?