Characters in search of a story
Create characters and invent stories by combining details from reality in the virtual world
Have you ever invented a story and characters? Have you ever played with the stories you already know, maybe changing the ending, the characters etc.?
What if someone told you… “The story stops here. You have to continue and finish it. What happens next?”
Gianni Rodari, “Stories to Play With” in “The Grammar of Fantasy”
In this activity, children and young people will observe the reality around them and, thanks to their imaginations and digital tools, they will transform it and give life to new characters and worlds that become the protagonists of stories they invent.
Like Alphabets of shapes / household object sets, they will use everyday objects, shapes, colors and small details that are hidden at home or wherever they are; they will explore spaces and create evocative and unexpected encounters, impossible in the physical world.
The free Photoshop Mix app (for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets) lets you to take photos and manipulate them digitally: you can delete the background, isolate a detail, change the size, color and transparency and add more images.
This activity can follow Alphabets of shapes / household object sets or it can be the starting point for other explorations or proposals.
from age 7 up (for younger children, together with an adult)
tablet or telephone connected to the internet, Photoshop Mix (free app), paper and pen
art, technology, science, math, language, arts
from designing to sharing
This section is a guide for adults to orient and support children’s and young people’s projects. The children’s hypotheses, starting from some initial questions, will be verified and deepened during the activity.
Questions to start with:
Have you ever invented a character and their story?
Are there objects in your house that intrigue and inspire you?
Have you ever thought that a lamp in your house might have a name? What about the refrigerator?
What would they say if they met?
What if a character with an apple head and a faucet body appeared?
What story could happen?
What could your characters be? What about their story?
You can choose to use a character created by scintillae, which you can download here and add it to the Photoshop Mix app.
What’s their name?
How would you describe the world they live in?
Where will this character go? Who will they meet?
Play with their story!
→ Look around for a detail or an object that intrigues or strikes you (a leaf, the tap, some silverware, a tile, the shower curtain, the design on a sweater, a light switch). This can become your character or part of it.
– Who/what is it?
– What’s their name?
– Where do they live?
– What do they do?
– What are their main characteristics?
→ Imagine all the parts that make up your character (body parts, accessories, etc.) and add them to the ID card.
head → soccer ball
tail → electrical cord
hair → leaves from a plant
Remember that it’s not necessary to move the objects or elements you’ve chosen (you can photograph them where they are and edit them afterwards).
→ If you don’t already have it on your device, download the free Photoshop Mix app.
Find the app on: App Store and Play Store (the app requires you to create a free Adobe Id account. When you download and install the app, follow the instructions to create an account).
→ Create a new project and take a photograph of the detail you chose. Here are some directions to get started:
→ Try to isolate the detail of the photo you took with the “Silhouette” function; if you don’t know how to do this, look here:
→ After inserting and isolating the first element, complete your character with all of its parts (the features you listed on your ID card) by adding all the other elements.
Here are directions for adding one or more elements:
→ You can add up to 10 elements.
If you want to add more, you have to save the first 10 in one image and then start adding new ones on the same page (see: tutorial to save your character).
→ Using the image editing tools, you can move, rotate, resize, and change the color of all the elements that make up your character.
→ Your character is ready. You can save it as an image on your device:
Write the story on a sheet of paper or in a notebook, listing all the elements that make it up (other characters, settings, events).
→ To create your story, look around the house for objects, materials, details that you may need to create the settings and other characters.
forest → plants
cave → inside of the wardrobe
mountain → pillows
→ To make these elements, repeat all the steps you followed to create your first character from step 2.
→ Once you’ve made all the elements, put them all together into one composition: place the characters in the setting.
→ You can add a short text to tell your story.
Find out how here:
→ Save the fragment of your story as an image on your device:
> view the tutorial
> download the tutorial
→ You can create as many as you want depending on the plot.
→ You can also send your characters and stories to
firstname.lastname@example.org along with your name (first name only), a title and a sentence about your character and their story. We will collect them all on our website in a dedicated section.
how to continue the project
“…one must feel free, then, to abandon the story to its fate and accept the suggestion of chance.”
Gianni Rodari, Storie per giocare, in “Grammatica della Fantasia”
→ You can send the beginning of your story to a friend, relative or classmate, and ask them to continue it, adding new characters and settings. You can continue this exchange, adding new chapters from time to time.
→ You can add movement to your story by creating a sequence of pictures in which characters move / perform actions. By quickly scrolling through the pictures, it appear will as if they were moving. You have created a “digital flipbook” (a flipbook is notebook with a series of drawings in which the figures of an animated drawing are drawn in succession; flicking through the book quickly gives the impression of a moving picture).
→ If you import the same sequence of photos into a video editing app, you can make a short video and add sounds and noises.
→ You can import your characters and all elements of your story into Scratch, and animate them with the these instructions.