Young people learn the value of giving their cartoon characters a story to help them draw better at the SIBF workshop
For immediate release
Sharjah, November 06, 2022
In a lively workshop presented by the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair in collaboration with Skilldeer, an online platform offering a wide range of courses and fun activities, young people had the chance to learn about book design animated characters and how to create a story to guide their illustration.
The workshop was presented by Maha Al Mheiri, an emeritus who spent many years in Japan honing her skills in creating manga, a style of Japanese graphic novel, originally developed in the late 19th century.
Maha greeted the young participants in Japanese and introduced them to the basics of drawing a cartoon character using simple shapes, saying, “If you can draw circles, squares and triangles, you can draw manga!”
The animated teacher then explained to the children that having a story behind your character can help define what they might look like and asked the class to brainstorm details to match their subjects. Starting with a name and an age, she decided her character would be called “Zoe” and be 10 years old. She moved on to what the character’s possible likes and dislikes might be, like, say, liking roller coasters but maybe not liking traffic.
Developing these attributes, she determined the character’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential “floors”, explaining that “Zoe” could be fast and strong in relation to her passion for roller coasters, but could be impatient due to her aversion to traffic.
The class then switched to pencil on paper as they asked pupils to construct a basic figure using a circle to represent the head and simple squares and rectangles to divide the proportions of the body. After a few iterations and additional basic shapes, the students found that they had already started to form a well-proportioned body for their character.
Once the pencil work was done, the class got out their pens and started fleshing out their figures, adding details to the face, arms, legs, and possibly clothing. In no time, the class had created awesome characters in the Japanese manga style, and the teacher commented on how amazing everyone’s work was. Using his techniques, the students had grasped the concept of building their character, layer by layer, while considering their attributes to create a design with an origin story.
Maha ended the workshop by bidding the youngsters an enthusiastic farewell in Japanese and wishing them good luck for their future and their passion for character illustration.