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Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Hero's Journey: Using your artwork to tell stories

Assignment: I will use the videos and links below to introduce my computer animation students this week to the story telling structure of the Hero's Journey.

Once you have a basic understanding of the Hero's Quest, get into small groups of 3 or 4 students. Take turns telling the other members of your group a story about something that happened to you in which you faced a challenge or solved a seemingly insurmountable problem. 

Pick an incident from your life where you faced a difficult challenge, suffered a heartbreak or loss, made a mistake, want a second chance or learned a life lesson. Create a fictional story loosely based on your experiences, starring a character loosely based on you. The story must include at least 3 setbacks where your audience believes all hope may be lost. 

Together with your group, create an outline for each person's story that retells it in the format of the 'Hero's Journey'.  You are free to change the setting, plot, challenge you faced and characters in order to transform your personal stories into  myths, fairy tales or epic quests. You may even employ magic or create monsters or imaginary beings. Magic may also be used to make the hero's life more difficult. You may rename the hero but their character should still be based on you. You should still retain something of your own personal journey in the story. 

This outline is going to form the basis of the plot of an animated adventure (that you will write) so it is up to you to balance personal experience with fiction. Some cartoonists prefer to write more realistic, believable stories and that of course is fine too. The story need not be long or complex.

 You may only end up animating a small portion of your saga this school year. Read the character tropes further down in this post to see if you can fit any of the players in your story into these mythical roles.


The following text is copied and pasted from the website TV Tropes. Here is the link to the site with the complete text: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheHerosJourney
The Hero's Journey is an archetypal story pattern, common in ancient myths as well as modern day adventures.
The concept of the Hero's Journey was described by mythologist Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces and refined by Christopher Vogler in his book The Writer's Journey
It can be boiled down to three stages:
  • Departure: the Hero leaves the familiar world behind.
  • Initiation: the Hero learns to navigate the unfamiliar world of adventure.
  • Return: the Hero returns to the familiar world.
More elaborate taxonomies usually include the following stages, not all of which need be present:
  • Miraculous or unusual circumstances around the Hero's conception or birth. Bonus points if there was a prophecy. Less common in modern stories, which tend to emphasize the role of personal choice in defining a hero, although there may still be a Prophecy Twist involved.
  • Begins in the ordinary world of the Hero's hometown, often in one of two flavors:
  • The Hero may be dissatisfied with the ordinary and express a desire for adventure. In musicals this can be expressed through an "I Want" Song.
  • The Herald brings a Call to Adventure. The Hero learns that they must leave the known world behind and travel into the land of adventure.
  • The Hero must then decide how to answer the Call:
  • Frequently, the first step on the Journey is receiving some kind of magical talisman or other Supernatural Aid
  • Crossing the First Threshold: The Hero must make a conscious, willing decision to embark on the adventure and leave the known world behind. This is the First Threshold. The Hero may have to defeat Threshold Guardians, who are not necessarily adversarial but do test the Hero's resolve. Down the Rabbit Hole is a special case for young heroines embarking on supernatural adventures.
  • The Land of Adventure: the Hero enters a strange, dreamlike realm, where logic is topsy-turvy and the "rules" are markedly different from the ordinary world. Carl Jung identified the Ordinary Realm with the conscious mind, and the Realm of Adventure with the subconscious mind.
  • The Spiritual Death and Rebirth represents a symbolic death for the Hero: the Hero is defeated and killed, their flesh scattered, ready to be reborn and emerge as a new person. If you think the symbolic death ought to come later, don't worry: The Writer's Journey omits this step altogether in favor of a Resurrection step just before the end.
  • Road of Trials: the path out of the Belly of the Whale. Usually the meat of the story; The Writer's Journey calls it Tests, Allies, Enemies, while Booker goes into detail on different types of tests (deadly terrain, monsters, temptations, deadly opposites, and a journey to the underworld). Stops along the way might include:
  • Night Sea Voyage: the Hero must sneak into the Big Bad's Elaborate Underground Base and retrieve something or someone. Campbell noted that these Stealth Runs were usually at night and often involved water; hence the name.
    • Link's initial attempt at rescuing Aryll from the Forsaken Fortress in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a near-perfect example of one of these.
    • Perhaps the best known example is the infiltration of the Death Star by Luke Skywalker to rescue Princess Leia.
  • Time out just before the big battle: the Heroes gather around a campfire and prepare for the battle, tell stories, confess their feelings, etc. It reminds them of what's at stake, and serves as a breather after all the action of the Road of Trials.
  • Apotheosis / Fight against the Big Bad / Ultimate Boon (These are typically very closely related, often intertwined.)
  • Refusal of the Return: At this point in the story, the Hero has mastered the strange world they were thrust into. They probably have earned a permanent place here, if they want it. They may even want to stay, but usually there are forces at work that propel them home.
  • The Return: Also called the Magic Flight; the Hero now has the boon and high-tails it away, with the villain and/or their forces in hot pursuit, the two parties locked in a battle of wits and magic (especially shapeshifting) during the chase. (See the Celtic story of Taliesin's escape from Cerridwen for a textbook example of this.) The Hero's escape may not require actual magic, but will require all of the new skills they've learned and new allies they've made. Or alternately they could realize the Awful Truth that they can't return home because sometimes Failure Is the Only Option
  • Crossing the Return Threshold. Sometimes a fight against the forces of the Muggle world, which the Hero wins thanks to help from their Muggle allies. This is where the Post-Climax Confrontation happens, as the remaining antagonistic forces have followed the Hero beyond the threshold and attacked them at a time when the plot should be wrapping up. In the absence of any action, it may be a Boring Return Journey instead, a chance for the Hero to reflect on what they've gained and experienced throughout their journey.
  • Freedom to Live: The Hero grants the boon to their people.
  • Celebration

The following text is copied from the website TV tropes. Here is the link to the site with the complete text: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TheSevenBasicPlots

Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots

Overcoming the Monster
Hero learns of a great evil threatening the land, and sets out to destroy it.
Rags to Riches
Surrounded by dark forces who suppress and ridicule him, the Hero slowly blossoms into a mature figure who ultimately gets riches, a kingdom, and the perfect mate.
The Quest
Hero learns of a great MacGuffin that he desperately wants or needs to find, and sets out to find it, often with companions. The video below does a great job explaining what a MacGuffin is:

Voyage and Return
Hero heads off into a magic land with crazy rules, ultimately triumphs over the madness and returns home far more mature than when he set out.
Hero and Heroine are destined to get together, but a dark force is preventing them from doing so; the story conspires to make the dark force repent, and suddenly the Hero and Heroine are free to get together. This is part of a cascade of effects that shows everyone for who they really are, and allows two or more other relationships to correctly form.
The flip side of the Overcoming the Monster plot. Our protagonist character is the Villain, but we get to watch him slowly spiral down into darkness before he's finally defeated, freeing the land from his evil influence.
As with the Tragedy plot, but our protagonist manages to realize his error before it's too late, and does a Heel–Face Turn to avoid inevitable defeat.

The information below comes from this website: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ArchetypalCharacter

Some lit-theories classify archetypes by the role/purpose the character inhabits for the story. These classes are: ProtagonistAntagonistReasonEmotionSidekickSkepticGuardian, and Contagonist.

Read the character tropes below to see if you can fit any of the players in your story into these mythical roles:


When you are done outlining your story, create a storyboard of your adventure, using the blank comic book pages below. 

Draw your storyboard illustrating the adventure using the format of the ‘Heroes Quest’. Remember, storyboards need not be very detailed. You can use simple gesture drawings to depict each scene. Include at least one or two frames for every step in the hero's journey.

A word about composition 
An artist at Marvel, Wally Wood, once created this guide to keep his comic book panels from getting boring. It was soon hanging above every cartoonists desk. It is known as Wally Wood's 22 Panels that always work and is still widely respected and followed throughout the cartooning industry.
A few years ago, I found this live action film version of the guide posted on You Tube.

Would using any of these panels help you to tell your story more effectively?

Will Eisner was another giant from the golden age of comic books. Below are the guidelines he published for effective compositions.

Keep these guidelines in mind when composing your story boards. Cartooning and animation is the art of visual storytelling. How can you best communicate your ideas to the audience simply, without words?

Print out the storyboard template below and draw the key shots of your story. Before you start take a look at some storyboard portfolios by professional artists;

...and Here

Recommended Reference Books:

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