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The Weather as Prop

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Aug. 10, 2019

So the weather is very important. We all know that from our real life routine alone.

There is often a tendency, however, not to use it when it comes to the visual narrative that webcomics are. More often than not, the weather is basically perpetually clear. Daylight or moonlight are more prominent in being used dramatically (to create pathos or other types of tone or atmosphere) rather than weather phenomena.

So I thought I'd talk about use of the weather to create certain effects, in hopes of also priming myself not to forget to change up the weather more often than I actually do.

In my opinion, weather can be used as an expression of a character's emotional or mental state, or as a canvas against which the character's emotional or mental state ‘pops’, so to speak.

Rain has been used a lot to this effect: a character is sad or in grief, and the whole world cries with him/her.

Works even if the character is comedic and it's debatable whether the rain cares:

Rain has also been used as a contrast: a character is so happy that the drab rain around him/her simply underlines his/her happiness a whole lot more.

Wind can also serve a lot as a dramatic instrument. It can be a manifestation of the resistance a character is meeting with when trying to achieve something:

How dramatic it becomes or how comedic depends on your characters' reactions, but the significance still stays the same!

And of course, we can always use wind to make things look awesome, even if they aren't necessarily so:

Then, there's heat. Heat waves, relentless temperatures that you can do very little about can also be powerful as a symbol of helplessness, or even as a plot device for your characters:

Same goes for the cold, though with cold, the helplessness can have a more directly communicated social element to it, as dressing for cold properly is achievable if you can afford it.

Finally, there's snow. Snow is often associated with joyous occasions:

But it can just as easily- and perhaps even more in high relief- be about depression, grief, or even death itself:

There are of course a lot more ways to utilize the weather! How have you done it?

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hushicho at 5:45PM, Aug. 13, 2019

I'm very glad to see this pointed out and featured so well. The example images illustrate the point and make it much more effective to see how helpful weather can be to give a richness and impact to a story. It was a real awakening to me, the first time I had characters caught in the rain, for example. But it's also worth noting that just changing the state of a person, from normal to soaked or parched to choose two ends of the spectrum, really changes their visual impact and can help immensely with conveying a point. It's something a lot of artists never have to think about until they decide to portray it, so be sure to look at images and video if you can of whatever weather happening. Take note of the details and the way, most of all, the weather interacts with the solid things in it!

PaulEberhardt at 11:21PM, Aug. 11, 2019

It's true. Visual artists (and especially filmmakers) do tend to treat rain as some kind of Chekhov's hail of bullets that you don't use if it has no specific function in the plot. I experimented with lead-grey skies like you often see in our North-Sea influenced climate as a kind of compromise (and I love the way they set off the colours of everything else) but even they appear to confuse people if the mood of the scene is too sunny, so to speak.

ChipperChartreuse at 10:19AM, Aug. 11, 2019

Major point of interruption and urgency to my army's first move in my current arc. Torrential rain, which allows for more depth to my character developmental well. Totally agree with Ironscarf's comment, leverage that weather!

Tantz_Aerine at 3:07AM, Aug. 11, 2019

I forgot about rainbows! Nice catch.

skyangel at 1:23AM, Aug. 11, 2019

As our comic has LGBT characters in it's nice to slip a rainbow in now and again too during romantic moments ;) Using weather can get awkward though at times! I recently saw the film Leap Year and found it amusing that what looked like a virtual hail storm forced our romantic couple to seek cover in a church whilst a wedding was taking place, and from there they all moved together to a beautiful reception being held outside under a marquee in glorious sunshine without even so much as a puddle in sight!

Ironscarf at 7:44AM, Aug. 10, 2019

Space for words is at a premium, so if you can write a character's emotions with pictures, that's more room for chit chat in the balloons. Weather is a great way to do this, along with lighting, colour choices and anything else you can think of. You'd be mad not to use it!

usedbooks at 4:08AM, Aug. 10, 2019

I mostly use weather to make art more interesting to draw. I hate being bored when I draw. Although I also use it as a plot device to force characters inside or add extra conflict. Or for scene setting to remind readers the time of year.

entropy0013 at 12:14AM, Aug. 10, 2019

The Environmental weather is setting, mood, and character conflict all at once. Like the ongoing saga of Charlie Brown and clouds when he wants to play baseball.

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