Character Posing in Storyboards

Visual Storytelling and Body Language

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 Pre-Set or 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.

Crop, Layer and Erase

For my next trick: cropping! Cropping is one of the most powerful editing tools we have, and you can do so much! Crop characters to look like they are behind a table or looking in from a doorway. Take the head from the front view of the character and put it on the side view of the body. Crop the head of one character and put it on another! Crop the top half of a character onto legs in a different position to show leaning!

Layering is different from cropping. With layering, you can easily put separate characters or items on top of each other to show depth or to cover something. In the example above, I cropped myself by posing first, then copying and trimming to get each piece that I wanted. This way, I was able to show myself trying to sneak some of Stephanie's cookies from behind the table - the table that is part of the scene. Stephanie watches with irritation from the window, but her character is layered behind the room scene, so you can only see the part of her that shows through the hole in the scene (the window). The backyard scene is located behind Stephanie's character.

Erase is similar to cropping but rather than cropping from the edge of the character, item, or scene, you can erase a piece from the middle! This can be helpful to show a character behind a pole or holding an object like demonstrated below. This allows the poses and images to look a lot more realistic!

So go ahead and take the first step to bringing out the personality of the characters in your storyboard!

View All Teacher Resources
*(This Will Start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)
© 2022 - Clever Prototypes, LLC - All rights reserved.