Creating Characters for Various Interfaces

Creating Characters for Various Interfaces

Anna Ursyn (University of Northern Colorado, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7371-5.ch003

Abstract

This chapter is focused on the theme of creating characters for visual storytelling discussed in practical, theoretical, and historical terms. The description includes a discussion of artistic forms acting as characters for telling stories, various meanings conveyed by characters in semiotic terms, the creating of characters by drawing, and then a set of learning projects follows, on creating characters for various interfaces.
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Artistic Forms Acting As Characters For Telling A Story

Creating characters may serve as a way to communicate within many literary and not only literary forms, including:

  • Illustration

  • Portrait

  • Comics, Comic book

  • Graphic novel

  • Doodling

  • Cartoon

  • Manga

  • Data visualization

  • Timeline

  • Infographics

  • Sequential art

  • Joke, Cartoon

  • Web tree, Web cloud

  • Storyboard

  • Architectural drawing

  • Abstract graphics

  • Mathematical equations

  • Chemical molecules

  • Physical laws – visual description

  • Electrical circuit

  • Road signs

  • Signage

  • Marketing

  • Advertisement

  • Clipart

  • Music notation

  • Calligraphy

  • Realistic drawing versus the essence of the object – among many other options.

Also, smartphone images and emoji digital images, especially when animated. (Emoji exist in various genres, including facial expressions, common objects, places, types of weather, and animals. They are much like emoticons, but emoji are actual pictures instead of typographics).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Avatar: A representation of a person (a user) or a character created by this person in a form of a figure or an icon, used in video games, motion pictures, online forums, virtual reality, etc.

Tree Structure: A data structure usually used for abstract data built up from nodes (vertices) and edges; tree structures often have many hierarchical levels but they do not form a cycle.

Animatic: A simplified mock-up, a series of still images as an initial version of animation, video, or film containing successive sections of a storyboard and a soundtrack with rough dialogues. Storyboards and animatics allow pre-visualizing a project to get an insight about how the motion, soundtrack, and timing will work together before beginning the production.

Icon: icon represents a thing or refers to something by resembling or imitating it; thus a picture, a photograph, a mathematical expression, or an old-style telephone may be regarded as iconic objects. Thus, an iconic object has some qualities common with things it represents, by looking, sounding, feeling, tasting, or smelling alike.

Semiotics: the study about the meaningful use of signs, symbols, codes, and conventions that allow communication. The name ‘semiotics’ is derived from the Greek word ‘semeion’ which means “sign”. “Meaning” is always the result of social conventions, even when we think that something is natural or characteristic, and we use signs for those meanings. Therefore, culture and art is a series of sign systems. Semioticians analyze such sign systems in various cultures; linguists study language as a system of signs, and some even examine film as a system of signs. The semiotic content of visual design is important for non-verbal communication applied to practice, especially for visualizing knowledge.

Storyboard: A graphic organizer containing sequenced images (usually drawings), simple directions, and dialogues designed to pre-visualize animation, film, motion graphics, or a sequence of interactive media.

Sign: a conventional shape or form telling about facts, ideas, or information. It is a distinct thing that signifies another thing. Natural signs signify events caused by nature, while conventional signs may signal art, social interactions, fashion, food, interactions with technology, machines, and practically everything else.

Fiberoptics: Optical fibers transmit information in a form of light pulses going through the core of a transparent fiber made of glass (silica) or plastic. The transparent coating material has a low index of refraction, and light signals travel along the core with very little loss of strength.

Visualization: the communication of information with the use of graphical representations. Interactive visual representations of abstract data use easy-to-recognize objects connected through well-defined relations.

Liquid Crystal: Matter in an intermediate state between the solid crystalline state and the liquid state (for example, a gel), which may flow like a liquid but has molecules oriented in a way resembling a crystal. Liquid crystals exist in the natural world such as minerals, living organisms with their proteins and cell membranes; they have many technological applications, e.g., in electronics.

Motion Graphics: A sequence of abstract or thematic electronic images – parts of a film, animation, a multimedia project, or a trademark, supported by fragments of soundtrack; motion graphics provide illusion of motion or rotation but usually do not tell a story.

Pictograph: A symbolic image representing a word or a sentence wide used in ancient cultures such as in Egipt, Mesopotamia, or Indian pictographs and petroglyphs. Also, a pictorial representation (an icon, a symbol, or a picture) presented on a computer screen, or a chart, showing the value of the data or comparing the sets of the data; pictographs are used to replace or enhance graphs that present the data as lines, curves, or bars.

Symbol: symbols no resemble things they represent but refer to something by convention. We must learn the relationship between symbols and what they represent, such as letters, numbers, words, codes, traffic lights, and national flags. A symbol represents an abstract concept, not just a thing, and is comparable to an abstract word. Highly abstracted drawings that show no realistic graphic representation become symbols. Symbols are omnipresent in our life. Examples may include: an electric diagram, which uses abstract symbols for a light bulb, wire, connector, resistor, and switch; an apple for a teacher or a bitten apple for a Macintosh computer; a map – typical abstract graphic device; a ‘slippery when wet’ sign. Signs, icons, and symbols are collectively called signage. Icons and symbols help compress information in a visual way. Designers choose signs, symbols, and icons that are powerful and effective; for example, a designer may look for an icon showing the essence of the meaning related to scissors and common features characteristic for this product. Effective design of a complicated product may help memorize and learn how to use the product.

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