Art Week! Thursday: Storytelling and Comic Books

THURSDAY MORNING was hard work, but was maybe my favorite part of Art Week (wait, have I said that every day?).  To participate in this activity you'll need to buy How to Make a Comic Book from Art Projects for Kids. This little guide could easily be used by older kids, and maybe is more directed for kids in the 8-12 age range. But my 6 year old did just fine with lots of guidance. She had to work really hard on this, and I was really proud of her efforts. She can give up on complicated projects easily, and so I was glad to see her learning that everything, including art, is better with hard work. My four year old had been begging to play with play doh, so she spent the day nearby working with play-doh while big sister and I made a comic.

We spent the morning planning out our story, dividing it into 8 panels and then drawing the panels. We did the lettering as we went along. This is the story L devised:

1. L tells mommy, "I want to be an artist!"
2. So Mommy and L and J paint and paint.
3. L thinks, "Whew! It's hard work to paint."
4. They painted and painted, and didn't give up until...
5. the painting was finished and it was beautiful.
6. When L was 17 years old, she went to art school
7. where she learned about painting.
8. And when she was all grown up, she was an artist.

We wanted to tell the story with mostly pictures, so with each frame we asked, "how can we show what's happening in this sentence?" We would discuss different options, and then draw. I corrected several drawing mistakes as well, explaining proportion and angles for the tables.

We also used the facial expression guide included in How to Make a Comic Book, which was really helpful and fun. We would discuss the feeling in each picture, and then look at the examples and decide which type of eyes and mouth and eyebrows would best illustrate that feeling.

It took us about two hours to complete our 8 panels - like I said, it was hard work for a 6 year old. I have some nice black ink pens, and so I inked the drawings for her while she took a break. Older kids could definitely do this themselves (and L could have as well), but we had already worked so long, I wanted to give her a break.

Another thing I did, after inking the drawing, was scan it into my computer. I know sometimes when the kids color things, the original drawing gets a bit lost. I was so proud of her work, I wanted to be able to save the original. I'm really glad I did. I also scaled the drawings down to fit the 8 panels onto one page (they were originally on 2 pages). The tiny-ness of the new drawing made them feel more like a comic, and we both got a kick out of that.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON we returned to color the comic. I gave L total freedom with this, although How to Make a Comic gives more guidance with color that would have been helpful. L colored one of the copies I made instead of her original with oil pastels which made nice bright colors.

I also spent a bit of time coloring her drawing digitally with Adobe Illustrator. I had lots of fun with this, although L thought that I didn't use enough colors. :)

We finished up the day by looking once again through our art books for famous paintings that had elements of storytelling. We noticed facial expressions, or details that were included to help suggest the story.

And then I selected some of my favorite children's books with great illustrations to talk about how stories are illustrated, and to notice the different styles of painting. We're big fans of Mo Willems (especially the way he uses the visual presentation of the text) and Patricia Polacco. Jan Brett also uses her illustrations to give extra details that aren't included in the text of the story. After selecting some great books, L enjoyed reading these again, this time paying more attention to how the text and the pictures go together and how some parts of the story are told through the pictures and not the text. 

Again, a very structured and detailed project was really satisfying and lots of fun. This was also a sneaky way to get her to do some writing without so much complaint. I think bookmaking may be a great way to encourage her to practice her writing in the future - so I see many more comic books in our future! And reading with comics seems to be a next step as well, so I'm on the hunt for good graphic novels/comic books for younger girls. This list looks really good, but I'll also take recommendations!

Keep up with the rest of Art Week here:
Get Ready
Monday: Experimenting with Materials and Textures
Tuesday: Landscapes and Space
Wednesday: People and Portraits
Thursday: Storytelling and Comic Books
Friday: The Exhibit


kristimontague said...

This is SO great! Will you homeschool Miles for me when he is old enough? :)

Martha said...

I think my girls would REALLY like this...thanks for sharing! I am not crazy about the Mo Willems books, but the kids think they're so funny!!!

Kelly said...

Zita the Space Girl series by Ben Hatke! Totally awesome graphic novel. You'll love it. And I love this series. Such a great idea. I think we will definately be trying it this year.