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Designing in Character

Annie Atkins

Graphic Designer for Film

  • Fri 7th Jun, 2024
  • BCU Parkside
  • 11:00am
  • workshop
  • From £10
  • 90 mins

How do you go about telling a story through graphic movie props? How do you add character to the inanimate objects that dress a film set? Close-ups of old newspaper articles and murderer’s notebooks can go a long way in telling the audience what’s really going on in a movie. But where is the line between fact and fiction, and how do we add drama to these objects, while still making things feel entirely realistic?


  • Choose a story or character from a book, a play, or from history that resonates with you. (Note that this project is more fun if your story is set in another time!)
  • Find five pieces of graphic ephemera that you could imitate to tell this story:
    • Newspaper headlines, postcards, letters, or telegrams can contain some key plot points in cleverly written copy.
    • Think about how you will set the time and place with your props. Is one item clearly dated? Or maybe something shows an airport code?
    • Show your character! An ID card, mugshot, or passport can instantly tell an audience what their name is, what they look like, where they’re from, or what they do for a living.
    • Try to choose at least one 3D object: a pack of playing cards or a bottle with a label can say a lot about a character’s actions.
    • Colour can say a lot about a character: don’t send 5 brown references just because we’re in a bygone time!

Annie will pick three stories to use as case studies: you will have to stand up and present your finds, and then as a group we’ll pick your collection apart and then put it all back together again.

To attend this workshop you must also have attended Annie’s talk the evening before, part of our Process: Characters evening.


graphic District Partner
graphic District Partner
graphic District Partner
graphic District Partner

BCU Parkside P132

graphic District

Birmingham City University – Parkside Building,
Cardigan Street,
Birmingham, UK

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