The Art of Visual Storytelling

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Ever since Shepherd University crammed diplomas in our hands and shoved us out the door in 2009, formal schooling has been low on our priority list. But a couple of weeks ago, the world of casual online classes opened itself to us when our friend Brooke Condolora ( invited us to a Skillshare class put on by Daniel Gonzalez, an animator at Disney. What can we say? We’re suckers for the Mouse.

The Art of Visual Storytelling is a three-week course that gives advice on the fundamentals of showing a story in pictures, with the takeaway project being a storyboard sequence of your own making. Since we have quite a few stories in development, we followed the adage of “hit the closest gator to the boat” and illustrated a scene from the young adult novel that Joel’s currently writing a rough draft for.

The book (details for which we’ll need to be somewhat vague on until it’s written and sent out to agents) is about a girl who lives in a haunted mansion, and whose evil landlord lives in a factory he’s built next door. In our first sketched scene, the heroine comes home from school to discover for the first time that he’s cranked up the furnaces and is spewing smoke all over the countryside. We played with the fundamentals of line, shape, light, and composition to create a clear picture of what’s going on in this scene and to give it tension and emotional color. (Just for funsies, we attached the set of thumbnail sketches to show our thought process!)

Though we technically don’t have time for projects like this, from the start we recognized the value in taking the time after-hours to push our skill set and imagination, as well as to stretch our established This Paper Ship style to fit darker subject matter. It’s been super fun so far and we’re looking forward to more!

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