Creativity Challenge: A Story in Images

Last week’s interesting links included an article on how to create an animated GIF, something I haven’t done in a long while. The “how-to” got me thinking about visual storytelling, especially in a month devoted to drawing.

An animated GIF tells a story by building image upon image. The animation can show a company’s strength through its key customer logos or provide the digital equivalent of a flip book, for example. The trick is to make the items or images each convey an event that has a relationship to the previous one. It can be something simple like random lines adding up to a stick figure as I intended for my example below. Or the visual story can use full pictures containing a fraction of a moment but revealing the whole as they fall one after another. In fact, this is how movies–or motion pictures–work, only the frames fall so quickly we don’t see the transition between.

Your challenge is to write a visual story. You don’t have to transform your project into a GIF. You can lay the pictures next to each other like a cartoon or graphic novel. Or you can go the whole way and make your mini movie. I’m including my example here to demonstrate how simple the process can be. Of course, I then ran into the problem that my stick figure wasn’t satisfied with the brevity of my plans as you can see. Perhaps you can identify the exact moment the character took over. Hint: It’s when the fourth wall breaks.

A short tale using an animated GIF

If you didn’t notice the story when you loaded the page, hit refresh and the animation should start again (or open the image in a separate window). One of the hardest parts of doing an animated GIF is figuring out the delay between the frames, something controlled by the layer names in GIMP. For example, layer_1(300ms) says to display the first layer for 300 milliseconds before switching to the next frame. The article from last week does not describe how to do this, so I searched for the answer separately. The one layer with words on it in my example holds for 3600ms.

Have fun with your project. The topic is limited only by your imagination. If you are drawing this month, and your existing images are interconnected, why not play with them to see what story they tell?

How you get to the story is up to you. Since I’m half a week ahead of everyone for my actual story, I can tell you my method turned into writing the idea as a series of short sentences. I plan to illustrate each sentence as a layer and export into the animated GIF. I’m drawing on my laptop, so mine are already digital. You can transform paper sketches or physical collages using a camera or scanner if you prefer.

If you’ve followed my attempts in previous Octobers, you’ll know I’m not particularly talented in this area. I haven’t committed to the practice necessary to turn my rough sketches into polished art. This is about trying something new and stretching our creativity. There’s no need for perfection, just the willingness to be challenged.

Next week, I’ll post my animated story for my smile, and with that timeline, you know it’ll be simple. If you’d like to share your own, post a link in the comments. Whether you share the results, I’d be interested in hearing about your process as will others, I suspect. For example, did you end up with the same method I described above or find some other approach?

Good luck to us all and may creativity draw many a spark…of fun. We’ve had enough fires.

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2 Responses to Creativity Challenge: A Story in Images

  1. Sigh. Not computer literate enough. When I refresh I return to The End. I saw that there was a beginning, but I couldn’t read the words and see it at the same time. Maybe I’ll do better next week.

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