Production Dossier

Initial Ideas

My initial ideas for my digital story

One of my first tasks when starting this project was to start developing ideas for what I could do for my digital story. Here, I started off by writing down some potential ideas for my digital story including the genre, story structure, audience, medium examples and some theme ideas.

My initial mind map showing my further development of the woodland idea

I then set about developing these ideas further and I decided to create a mind map exploring the woodland setting idea, as I felt this had lots of potential story and character ideas and would suit my chosen slice of life genre and the audience.

Pinterest Moodboard

Once the woodland ideas began forming, I decided to create a Pinterest moodboard as I personally like a visual method to gain inspiration for projects, I find that it really helps me to expand upon my initial ideas.


Here is my Pinterest moodboard containing visual inspiration for my piece

From looking at the Pinterest board, it should hopefully show some ideas of how I will be aiming for the overall aesthetic of my piece to be. I was able to find lots of photos that I find inspiring for potential environment and world designs, character designs and colour scheme ideas. 

Inspiration For My Piece

As seen in my mind map, I already had some inspiration in mind for my piece. During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, I began watching a genre of anime called ‘Slice of Life’ which basically shows a characters everyday life, often where they are taking part in fairly mundane tasks such as going to school, to the shops and making food. ‘Watching something close to real life might sound somewhat uninteresting for others, but with good storytelling and a diverse set of characters, these titles can easily affect someone on an emotional level. As such, many fans turn to slice of life if they need something comforting and heartwarming’ (Añonuevo, 2022). I too have found watching slice of life anime a form of escapism during the pandemic so I too would like to incorporate aspects of the genre into my story. 

A screenshot from the Anime, Hakumei and Mikochi

The slice of life genre can often cross over into other genres such as fantasy which I would also like to incorporate some elements from within my story. An example of one of these would be the anime and manga ‘Hakumei and Mikochi’ that I have watched and read. It centres around two main characters, Hakumei and Mikochi who live ‘in a [magical woodland] world inhabited by people only a few inches tall’ (MyAnimeList, n.d.) and the daily adventures they go on. I really like the concept of this and I am aiming for something similar in my piece. 

A screenshot from the Studio Ghibli film, Kiki’s Delivery Service

Studio Ghibli films are also a good example of anime which incorporate fantasy elements but are still done in a fairly relaxed way. Some good examples would be ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ and ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ which are two films I really love and find very inspiring. I also find the art style of Studio Ghibli films very inspiring. Studio Ghibli is well-known for having beautiful background art,  as seen in the example above, and I too would like to have a big emphasis on this in my piece. 

Some slice-of-life moments from the Moomins TV show

Another big inspiration for me would be the Moomins animated TV show. I watched it as a child growing up in the 90’s and I recently decided to rewatch all of the episodes. I find that the art style is really inspiring, I particularly love the character and background designs and the use of colour. The overall vibe of the Moomins is quite relaxed which I really like too, adding to the slice-of-life feeling which I would like. I also like the outdoorsy, woodland setting of the Moomins which is another reason for why I have also chosen the woodland theme. 

Here is a photo showing an example of some pages within the Hakumei and Mikochi manga

As stated previously, I have also read the Hakumei and Mikochi manga. I mainly decided to read it because I was so inspired by the beautiful art style used within the anime and I wanted to look at the original illustrations closer as illustration is something which I really enjoy. As seen above, the art style on each panel is very intricate which is something I am really drawn to. 

A photo showing some pages in the Moomin comic book ‘Moomin’s Desert Island’

Like the Moomins TV show, another big inspiration for me would be the Moomins books and comic strips created by Tove Jansson. I am a big fan of Jansson’s illustration style, as seen above in the double page spread from the comic ‘Moomin’s Desert Island’ I love how despite the comic strip being in black and white, Jansson has utilised textures and shading in each panel to ensure a good level of contrast. Despite the fact that I am wanting to create my piece in colour, I do find the concept of utilising  lots of different textures very appealing. 

Deciding Upon A Medium

I did have some potential medium ideas at the start of the project, but I decided to not jump straight into choosing a medium at first as I felt that a better starting point would be to think of the initial story ideas and gain some inspiration first. After doing this, I came to the realisation that I wanted to create a digital comic. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to improve upon my illustration skills and to create more illustration work for my portfolio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some screenshots of the digital comics, Moomins and Yuru Camp viewed on my phone

There are lots of websites available that allow you to view digital comics and manga, both at a price and for free. They can also be viewed on a desktop and on a mobile phone, which is probably the more popular method as many people like to read them on the go. The user is able to scroll through the pages continuously which is something I will have to consider. There are more traditional style digital comics as seen in the two screenshots shown above, which are basically physical comics which have been digitised. There is also the webcomic style which have been made solely for viewing on digital platforms. These often have less panels than the more traditional style comics and tend to make better use of space.

Character Designs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some initial sketches of my main characters

Next, I started to develop some character designs. I already had the idea for a mushroom themed character who would be the main character in the story and her best friend who would be moss themed. I started out by sketching some ideas down as seen above. I wanted to incorporate the mushroom/moss elements into each individual character and played around with ways of doing this, mostly through the characters hair. I also tried out various clothing styles. 

My final character designs of Mushi and Elf Cap

I then took my initial designs and developed them further to create the final designs for the two main characters which are named Mushi and Elf Cap. Mushi is inspired by the iconic red and white spotted mushroom variety, ‘Amanita Muscaria’ and Elf Cap is inspired by the moss variety, ‘Elf Cap Moss’. 

I spent some time creating the colour schemes for the characters, I wanted them to both have a natural, earthy colour palette but I also wanted to ensure that they had their own unique pop of colour to help them stand out such as the use of red on Mushi and the use of green on Elf Cap. I also wanted the pop of colour to look striking when the characters are together, hence the choice of red and green which are complimentary colours in the colour wheel. 

Some character designs for the potential secondary characters

I also started designing some potential background/secondary characters who live in Mushi and Elf Cap’s world. Here, I have designed a potential friend for them – named Snowdrop who is inspired by the Snowdrop flower. I knew when designing her that I wanted Mushi and Elf Cap to come to her rescue somehow, so I gave her the shy personality trait.

The other characters I have designed are possible insects and creatures that may be encountered in a woodland. If using any of these characters, I will have to think about the scale of their size in relation to the background art and also to the main characters who I have stated are 4-5 inches tall. 

Environmental Designs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some photographs that I took in the woods to help me with the environmental designs

Again, as Mushi and Elf Cap are very small in height and live on the woodland floor, their world will seem really big to them but in reality, only covers one small area of a woodland. I decided that it would be a good idea to go out for a walk in the woods and take some photographs to help me when designing the environment. I tried to take the photos from a height similar to Mushi and Elf Cap’s small stature – to gain a better understanding of how the world would look through their eyes. 

A sketch of one of my background ideas

I then used my photographs as inspiration and started to draw some potential background art, focusing on the scale of things such as the trees and grass. I sketched out the line drawing to help get the scale of everything to how I wanted it. 

A coloured version of the potential background art 

Finally, I created a coloured version, using Procreate. I wanted my comic to have a very natural, hand-drawn, paper sort of appearance, almost like something from an illustrated children’s book. I experimented with the various brushes and textures until I created this style which I felt suits the desired look and complimented my existing character designs. I also took some inspiration from the inspiring art styles that I have previously mentioned liking mainly the Hakumei and Mikochi anime, Studio Ghibli films and Moomins TV show. 

Map of The World

A map showing the world where my digital comic will be set

I then decided to draw out a map of their world to help me start visualising the location more, and to help think about potential storylines. Again, due to the small scale of my characters I also reflected this in the map design. The trees appear really big, the buildings are made out of cardboard boxes and what to them is a lake is just a puddle in reality. I may also include a more detailed map illustration similar to this somewhere around the beginning of my comic to help set the scene for the reader. This is something that Tove Jansson illustrated for in the Moomins books, and I find it helps the reader to understand the location better, and again, is something that has inspired me. 

Colour Scheme

My colour scheme which I hope to follow

Here, I created a colour palette which I will be following in my final digital comic. As I had already designed the characters and their individual colour palettes, I needed to incorporate more colours to be used in the backgrounds and other characters. I selected the colour palette myself, using colours that I felt would work well together. I stuck to a very natural and earthy palette which I felt would work perfectly in the woodland setting. 

Audience 

I have decided to not limit the audience for my digital story, so I won’t be aiming it at a specific demographic as I genuinely feel that slice of life stories and anime have such a wide audience, particularly as they don’t tend to have any gore or violence so therefore can be enjoyed from a young age. This will be reflected in all aspects of my digital comic from the illustrations to the dialogue. 

Layout Ideas

After looking at some existing digital comics earlier on in the project when deciding on the medium, I decided that I too would like to design my digital comic to be best viewed on a smartphone and therefore will be making it scrollable. I plan on illustrating each panel on the iPad app, Procreate and I will then be importing these illustrations and arranging them onto Adobe XD. I feel that XD would be the ideal app for creating this as I find it quite straightforward to use and it has good options for creating scrollable prototypes that fit with specific phone dimensions. 

Here I have created a video of a very basic panel style layout I have designed

I created a very basic prototype on XD to have a practise with the scrollable feature as seen above, I was also able to experiment with possible layout ideas. Digital comics aren’t always strictly uniform/grid like with their layouts, they instead will often have varying numbers of panels on each row depending on the importance of the panel, but at the same time will fit into an overall frame on the page. Overall after viewing this prototype on my phone, I felt that some of the panels may be slightly too small, especially as I wanted some of my illustrations to be quite detailed, I feel like the details may go unnoticed if the panels were smaller. 

Here I have created a video showing a digital comic style layout I have designed

I then decided to try out more of a webcomic style layout which as well as being scrollable, the ‘panels are arranged in a mostly vertical order, with more space in between them, to accommodate for the smaller display size.’ (ArtRocket, n.d.). Webcomics often have large, detailed illustrations and areas with more space which may include small illustrations or areas of speech. I definitely prefer this method as I feel that the reader will be able to see my illustrations better, and it will hopefully make the dialogue clearer and less cluttered. It also seems a more creative and less restricted layout compared to the other style, I like how I will be able to illustrate bigger, detailed panels but that I can also have some which aren’t completely filled with illustrations and instead utilise white space. 

Text and Typography

Here is a practice of possible font sizes using XD

Next, I decided to try out some different font sizes to see what would be best suited for my digital story. Having already looked at some existing digital comics and manga, I realised that all of them were in clear, easy to read sans serif fonts and always seemed to use capital letters. I have chosen a font which I feel will be suitable called ‘League Gothic’ and as seen above, I tried out various font sizes. After viewing them on my phone I felt that size 10 was too small and quite hard to read, so I will most likely go for size 11 or 12 in my final digital comic. 

Story Overview

Here I have began to outline my storyline

I then began thinking about my basic storyline. In one of our lectures, I learnt about the various storytelling tropes/structures and from that I decided I would like to aim for a ‘mountain’ storytelling style as I felt this would best suit the digital comic format.

For the story idea, I took into consideration my characters personality and hobbies from the character designs that I created, and I also looked at the map of the location to help me visualise potential storylines and what could possibly happen in their world.

Story Timeline

Here I have created a timeline of my story

I decided to create a story timeline to help me to visualise the sections better. My story has been split into three classic sections: beginning, middle and end. The beginning of my story is the part in which I want the characters and location to be established, hence why it begins by focusing on the two main characters, Mushi and Elf Cap and the two main locations, their house and the village. 

The middle part is where the problems arise, or looking back to the storytelling tropes, it would be the peak of the mountain. In my story, the problematic part starts when they realise that they don’t have enough money for the bus fare home. They begin the longer journey of having to walk back  home instead, with their heavy shopping bags. The peak of the middle problem section is where they encounter the giant pile of litter and realise their friend, Snowdrop is stuck. 

Next, the ending section starts which is where all of the problems are resolved. In this part, Mushi and Elf Cap will help to free Snowdrop from the rubbish, they will all then get back to Mushi and Elf Cap’s house where they all enjoy some tea and cake after their stressful day. Finally, the story will end with Elf Cap watching the human litter pickers sorting out the litter. 

Storyboard

My storyboard

I then decided to take my storyline overview and create a storyboard to help me visualise the story better and outline the settings/scenes ready for creating the final digital comic. Although the storyboard is done in a basic illustration style, and not how the final art style will be, it has helped me to think more about possible illustrations in the final panels.

When it comes to writing comics, ‘the two most notable ways to write a comic book are the “Full Script Method” and the “Marvel Method” (Cronin, 2018). The Full Script Method is where the ‘writer will write out a comic book script […] describing each panel for the artist to then draw’ (Cronin, 2018). The Marvel Method is where ‘the artist would […] layout the pages for the story based on the plot and then the writer would add dialogue to the finished pages’ (Cronin, 2018). I am going to use the Marvel Method for my project, this is mainly because there is only myself working on this project and I personally find it easier to work this way in terms of the dialogue. I have a general idea of what the characters may say to each other, but I personally much prefer doing the visual side of things first. 

Project Planning

Here is my gantt chart showing what tasks need doing and when

I have also decided to create a Gantt chart to help me outline what tasks need to be done and a timescale of when I should aim to complete them by. By working to this timescale, it should ensure that I get this project done on time. 

References:

Añonuevo, M (2022) Anime’s most feel-good genre, slice of life, explained. Available online: https://www.cbr.com/slice-of-life-anime-genre-meaning-explained/ [Accessed 13/02/22].

MyAnimeList (n.d.) Hakumei to Mikochi. Available online: https://myanimelist.net/anime/36094/Hakumei_to_Mikochi [Accessed 13/02/22].

GoodSleepzzZ (2018) Hakomei to Mikochi’s tiny’s night. Available online: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1446692665 [Accessed 13/02/22].

Rose, S (2016) Kiki’s Delivery Service review – lovable Studio Ghibli coming-of-age story. Available online: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/may/26/kikis-delivery-service-review-lovable-studio-ghibli-coming-of-age-story [Accessed 17/03/22].

Keatulie (2019) ten minutes of slice-of-life moomin moments [Video]. Available online: youtube.com/watch?v=xaCyG4siUeI&t=18s [Accessed 17/03/22].

Kashiki, T (2014) Cafe and Raisin Bread. Hakumei & Mikochi 2 Tiny Little Life in the Woods, 156-157.

Jansson, T (2006) Moomin’s Desert Island. Moomin volume one, 88-89. 

Readmanganato (n.d.) Yurucamp vol.1 chapter 1: mt fuji and cup ramen. Available online: https://readmanganato.com/manga-xd975260/chapter-1 [Acessed 13/02/22].

Read Comic Online (n.d.) Moomin the complete tove jansson comic strip. Available online: https://readcomiconline.li/Comic/Moomin-The-Complete-Tove-Jansson-Comic-Strip/TPB-1?id=190795 [Accessed 13/02/22].

Farah, T (2021) The other magic mushroom: why a canadian startup is suddenly interested in the fungus from super mario [Photograph]. Available online: https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/the-other-magic-mushroom-why-a-canadian-startup-is-suddenly-interested-in [Accessed 16/02/22].

Taylor, M (n.d.) Scarlet elf cup [Photograph]. Available online: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/fungi-and-lichens/scarlet-elf-cup/ [Accessed 16/02/22].

Art Rocket (n.d.) Tips for creating vertical scrolling webtoons. Available online: https://www.clipstudio.net/how-to-draw/archives/157055 [Accessed 16/03/22].

Cronin, B (2018) How Stan Lee became synonymous with the ‘Marvel Method’. Available online: https://www.cbr.com/marvel-comics-stan-lee-marvel-method/ [Accessed 18/02/22].