Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Picture Transformations

Werecreatures present an interesting problem from the illustrator's perspective. Basically, the illustrator has to portray the shape-shifting at least once in the comic, and it requires some thought to properly pull it off. If it is going to happen a lot, then it needs to be discussed; after all, you want something that can be portrayed in a few panels. Fortunatley, there are a couple of ways to pull this off.

The One-Panel Multi-Form: Pretty much the comics standby, the basic idea is to start with the original form, insert two or three transition forms, and then end with the final form. Although requires a lot more thought than other forms that work can be worth it. The problem is when either form has clothing and other items, as they need to be allowed for during the change, so this requires a lot of planning if those elements are involved.

The Body Part In Focus: In Panel One, focus on a particular body part. In Panel 2, show the body part changed. In Panel 3, pull back to reveal the changed form. This is a great and simple way to get the change over quickly and with little fuss.

The Focused Multi-Form: You focus in on one body part for several panels, and the part transforms a little more each time until it reaches the final form. This is great for when you need to be subtle and want to have some fun with it.

The John Landis Special: Warning: This may take a few pages. The first time you show a change you may want something a little more....dramatic. Show a few panels of minor changes, then start showing the major changes. Once enough of the changes have happened show the final form. This takes some work and some planning, but can be well worth it.

The Shadow: Instead of showing the transformation, show a silhouette of it. Usually a heads-only situation over a few panels, this is great if you want to have a little mystery in your story. This can also be great if you want to break up some of your other transformations.

The Bar-Pole Quicky: A pole or other vertical obstruction spits the panel into two. As the character moves past it, he transforms. It only takes one panel, and first part past it is the new form while the part that has yet to cross is the original form. Although a great time-saver, it is seen as a cheat.

The Magic Beast: The person transforms into energy form that happens to be a silhouette of the original form, then a silhouette of the new form, and then becomes the actual new form. Listed more the sake of completeness, this can work visually but is usually seen as a cheat.

Those should help a lot. The bottom line is that you will probably use a mix of these methods in order to spice things up as well as have some fun with the transformations, so don't feel as if you need to pick just one. Just go with whatever feels right at the time, and works for the scene in question. Just remember to have some fun with it and you should enjoy yourself. 

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