In a digital world, the media is all around us. Every day, thousands of media messages bombard us, giving us news, knowledge, entertainment, information on products, lifestyles and beliefs. Media increasingly determines what we learn, what we believe, and what actions we take as members of communities or as citizens.
Amidst this barrage of media, how do we know where and how to find accurate, independent information? How can we tell what is real and what is fake? Media and Information Literacy helps us develop the skills to use media effectively, safely and responsibly.
This introduction to media literacy is part of CCDS’s efforts to research and advocate for digital equality in India. It is aimed at children and teenagers in the 11–16 age-group, and can be used by students themselves, or teachers and trainers in the classroom.
Three youngsters are walking through a busy city street. They are about 14 years old and are dressed in jeans. All of them have phones – either in their pockets or hands or bags.
The street is grey and crowded. Everywhere are hoardings advertising orange juice and ice cream, phones and fancy holidays. A jingle is playing from a roadside stall. A cricket match is being televised by a huge screen in a shop window.
It’s the first day of the school holidays. Sonali, Zeenat and Rohan are celebrating two months of freedom.
Zeenat: I can’t believe exams are done. What’s the plan today?
Rohan: Anything except studying.
Sonali: Let’s just hang out and have lunch. Do you want to go for a movie? Or shopping? I need new shoes.
Rohan: Can we stop at the Phone Gallery?
Sonali: A new phone! Lucky. Which ones are you looking at?
The content has been written for a graphic book format, as a series of conversations between three teenagers, interspersed with boxes containing information, quizzes and trivia. Total content is around 8,000 words for the first workbook.
I began the storyboarding for the book by first figuring out all the scenes that the characters would be interacting in. Then once I had the angles and shots mapped out in my head I began by placing the characters in those scenarios and worked out how they were interacting with each other. It was quite a challenge to keep the scenes dynamic as most of the actions that happen in the book are conversations.
I really enjoyed creating shots and angles in the panels that should the interactions between the children from different perspectives – Long Shots, PoV’s, Distorted Perspective, etc.
All the story boarding was done in thumbnail sketches, the final integration with the textual content would be necessary to figure out the size of panels and placement of characters. This was quite challenging as the script was 32 pages which was the same length that the graphic novel was supposed to be. Integrating the text in a way that allowed for the illustrations while not making the content seem too verbose was an interesting exercise.
I redraw the thumbnail sketch onto a larger A4 sheet as a rough layout. From there, I work out the rest of the drawing freehand, looking at reference photos for details and postures or props that I’m not certain about.
Since this stage involves a lot of tweaking and refining as I draw, I use a really hard 4H Staedtler pencil for the first round and then go in and do the final sketch in a softer darker 2B for seperating foreground and background.
With the basic pencil sketching done and the text boxes overlaid in their approximate sizes, I begin working on the details for each scene. First I make sure that the characters and basic forms of the background are in place. I prefer to work with foreground (characters) before detailing the background. First I start with the characters, inking with a with Pigma Micron 0.1mm fineliner. Next the basic forms of the background followed by the detailing with 0.05mm and highlight certain parts that are important with 0.1mm. Once the background and foreground are done, I outline the characters with a slightly thicker point 0.3mm or 0.5mm so that they stand out a bit more.
This stage-wise inking is more or less followed per page. I too sometimes go back and add more details if I feel a scene is too bland or could use a little more props. I also tend to fill in the pure black areas like hair and… well in this case just hair I guess.
I tend to spend a lot of time on the inking phase, tinkering around with details and textures of the background. This part for me is a lot of fun!
The brief for the cover was a full color page with just the title and a scene with elements that are present through the book. The book was originally going to be called ‘Click Tricks’ but after I designed the cover as an intricate and confusing labyrinth, the client felt like changing the title to ‘Media Maze’ would be more appropriate.
There are some spreads in the book that require illustrations that are mostly based on the actual scenes that the conversations are happening in. There are very little derivative illustrations or concepts in these spreads.
This type of spread has a lot of imaginary content in the illustrations. There are also workbook elements or activities interspersed in this spread.
This spread is mostly used near the end of chapters where the activities are highlighted. The book was also meant to be a sort of activity book where children could solve the quizzes to figure out more about media literacy.