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BYOCD: Collecting Images

Monday, October 30, 2006

(There are lots of links in this segment. You may want to right-click on them and choose to open them in a new window so you don’t have to keep navigating back to this page.)

I realized that in the last post, I didn’t really explain my process of finding images of RWTs. So let me do that before I get into the storyboarding process. The best example I can give is by illustrating the process for the hero of my current WIP, the Ransome’s Quest trilogy.

The inspiration for this historical romance involving a Royal Navy captain and the spinster daughter of his admiral came through an actor in a secondary role in the A&E movies based on the Horatio Hornblower novels. While watching these movies, I became enamored with the somewhat stiff and stodgy—but loyal and good-hearted—Lt. William Bush, portrayed by an actor with the most amazing light-blue eyes I have ever seen. (I’m an eye-girl, what can I say?) After seeing the movies the first time, I knew I wanted to add several of the actors to my casting book. (Upon multiple viewings, I started focusing on Lt. Bush as inspiration for my Captain Ransome.)

So, I went to and did a keyword search for Hornblower Mutiny. And I started adding names to the database and images to the image files.

So, how did I find all of the personal info on the RWTs? When I clicked on the link for the movie title I wanted, it gives the cast list. Each name is linked to the page about the actor. So, I clicked on Paul McGann. I see where he was born in 1959 in England. When I click on show more, I see that he is 5’8” tall. Okay, so he’s actually quite a bit older and a little shorter in real life than my character, but that’s okay. It’s not like I’m casting a movie, after all! When I go back to his main page, I see there are no photos of him available through IMDb. But that’s okay, because copying images from IMDb isn’t as easy as other methods.

Because I want as many images of him as I can find, I do a Google Image Search for Paul McGann. When I see one I think I want, I click on it and it takes me to a page where the image has been isolated. By clicking on the image in the top frame, it brings up the image alone. In Internet Explorer, I can right click on the image and copy it to then paste into the image file in PowerPoint. If I’m in Netscape I can either try to highlight the image by clicking and dragging the mouse over it, then right-click/copy or I can just right-click and save the image to my computer to later insert into PowerPoint. Now, if you aren’t going to keep your casting book electronically, you could just go ahead and print it at this point; but even for hard copies, I recommend the copy/paste into PPT method, as you can put multiple images onto one page and save paper.

Once I start developing a character, I like to have as many images as possible for study, so I start a new PPT document in my electronic file for the project entitled Characters. This becomes my repository for all of the RWTs I use in my novel—and I cast everyone! I also keep a cast listing file for quick reference, especially when I can’t remember a minor character’s name or physical description.

Where do I find my images? Google, obviously. On, when there are images available, it doesn’t allow the right-click/copy feature. But there is a way to capture the entire screen. On most PC keyboards, there is a key, usually at the top right, labeled PRINT SCREEN. Hit it and you’ve captured an image of what’s currently on your screen (so make sure the image is centered!). Now, you can paste it into PowerPoint. On the Drawing or Picture toolbar (Picture toolbar should pop up when you single click on the image), you can click on the Crop button and trim the image down to just what you want.

Other than online images, because 99% of the templates I use are actors/actresses, I get my hands on as many movies/DVDs of TV shows the template has been in. The DVD player on my computer lets me pause and capture the screen (unfortunately PRINT SCREEN does not work for DVDs) and save static images of the RTW. But I also like to watch them in action. I study how they walk, sit, stand, their facial expressions, tone of voice, etc. By watching an RWT in multiple roles/settings, I start picking up on the real person’s real mannerisms. Think about it—when you watch a Tom Hanks movie, you automatically know what his character is thinking/feeling with the briefest glance at Tom’s face. How? You’ve seen him in so many different roles, but deep down, he’s still Tom Hanks with a finite number of facial expressions and emotions. Once you can recognize those in your RWTs, you’ll have an easier time showing your character’s emotions through his actions, facial expressions, and body language . . . which is a lesson for another day!

  1. Anonymous permalink
    Monday, October 30, 2006 4:47 pm

    You can find lots of images of Paul McGann at the McGann Library ( You can find my photos of him from the Gallifrey and ChicagoTARDIS Doctor Who cons at and, respectively. The latter set of pics includes photos of folks attending the con. also has piccies of Paul.

    I’m Estelle May, the administrator of the McGann Libary, and I also live in Nashville (


  2. Anonymous permalink
    Monday, October 30, 2006 8:40 pm

    Wow! What a resource for Cap’n Ransome!

    You wouldn’t believe how I’m watching the supporting cast of every movie now! lol


  3. Wednesday, January 21, 2009 11:49 pm

    Great idea.

    People started wondering why I had 67 pictures of a certain actor I was using, though. 😉 Or why I watched films with him in it two or three times a week. Or why I rewound his scenes six or seven times each. Took screen captures of ever facial expression/movement. Shut my eyes to hear how he talked.

    “No, it’s not a crush, I’m studying him for a novel.”

    I don’t think they believed me, but that’s ok. 😉


  4. Wednesday, March 25, 2009 8:48 pm

    Wow I realize this entry is kind of old but still, it was interesting. I immediately thought of using Microsoft OneNote which comes with Office 2007 for this project. You can create “notebooks” and in them you can put all sorts of tabs and sub pages. You can insert or paste photos and even save whole web pages by using your normal “Print” function only instead of choosing a regular printer, choose “Print to OneNote.” Everything is also automatically saved so you don’t even need to worry about losing anything you’ve added. I have been thinking I’m going to make a section for Characters and under that I’ll put bios and images etc. and then make another section for research so I can save tidbits from websites. You can also use INternet Explorer and paste stuff right in and it will add an active link, too. And everything is all in one place! It’s so wonderful and I’ve had it for months without even paying it any attention. I’m so stupid! LOL Oh yeah you mentioned how you can’t use Print Screen for DVD’s but if you use a program with a capture feature you can get screenshots from them. Or you can use a screenshot program. I like PowerDVD because it will play the movie and there’s a little button with a camera on it and all you do is click it and it will automatically save an image to a special folder. I’m sure there are TONS of other programs but as someone who is really into taking screenshots, I needed that! Oh yeah if you want any screenshots from Withnail & I (I am a big Paul McGann fan) I have half the movie capped here: Withnail & I I never did finish it because I had to deal with other things but I’ve got the film so someday…



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