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Paneling
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vulpeslibertas
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 5:40 pm    Post subject: Paneling Reply with quote

So what are everyone's rules for paneling. I know I've experimented with it for a time, but never got a really good handle on it. Most of my creative stuff didn't work. I finally just went with 1 page = 1 panel. Does anybody have a system or set of rules for paneling their comic?
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dpat57
Ich bin ein webcomicker


Joined: 11 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think your comic works okay with 1 panel per page, especially since you have your navigation buttons at the top as well as the bottom, which makes it easy to move to the next page, just keep the mouse where it is, over the next button, and click when ready.

You could as an alternative stack several panels on top of each other (you've maybe tried this) so the reader could scroll down and enjoy reading a sequence, but this takes away the "framing" effect that each panel currently enjoys.

Boils down to personal choice, I think.

I throw individual panels into my browser and let the browser arrange them for me, then take a .jpg snapshot of the whole page for uploading to display sites. No one else seems to do this, so I'm probably not the one to ask about rules for paneling, but I'll be interested in other replies, I'm always looking for a smarter/faster way to do things.
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vulpeslibertas
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dpat57 wrote:
You could as an alternative stack several panels on top of each other (you've maybe tried this) so the reader could scroll down and enjoy reading a sequence,
Try pressing the Multi-page option in the sidebar.
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@dpat - I think I like your idea quite a bit. It wouldn't work for me (at least in this project) but it accounts for different monitor sizes pretty nicely. But it does look a bit odd since blankspace can creep up when the panels are different heights.

As for my process: My general rule is to average about six panels per page. This isn't a hard rule since it's an average, so I often go over that.

First and foremost, I plan out how I want the panels laid as I'm putting the script together. I'll write a whole chapter, then once it's done, go back through the file and label which dialogue I want together in a panel and how big the panel should be. (I have pretty generic notes for sizes, like basic, lrg, split top/bot, full (page), etc. Then after that, I go through again and logically split them into pages.

Planning is really important for me, but sometimes what I plan doesn't actually work once I start putting the page together. Just having that plan is enough to get things off the ground though.

I use Manga Studio 4 EX, and the panel layer with the panel cutter tool makes it really easy to make panels and adjust them.



I tend to cut across first, using the gridlines and space them about six boxes from the center. For the vertical cuts, I typically only have one section that cuts across the center - the reason being that I think different panel sizes helps keep the layout more interesting. How each section is cut depends on what the panel is going to look like though.

I sketch my pages before inking them, and the sketch phase is when I decide how the paneling will look. It's also when I letter, so I can make sure the art doesn't get covered by the bubbles and it all fits nicely in the panel.

I usually make my panels squares/rectangles, but I'll use more diagonally cut panels for two reasons: 1) if two panels have something that's happening at the same time (like on panels 3 & 4 here) or for action scenes, like this:



I haven't had a lot of actiony scenes yet though, so it's more experimental at this point.

So yeah, I'm kind of systematic, and I have to wonder how much of what I do is actually picked up by readers. Doesn't matter whether or not it is, though, I just need a plan.

@vulpeslibertas - I think if you kept the style you have now, that would make your panels really Tumblr-friendly. (Not that I have any idea on how to use Tumblr properly.)
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vulpeslibertas
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Full disclosure, I haven't actively updated my comic for years. I keep thinking I'll get back to it one day. Work and other projects keep interfering. At the moment, I'm working on a videogame.

I tried to do a lot of artsy stuff with my panels, but nothing ever worked out. I kept drawing back and simplifying until I arrived a the one-page panel. It works, though its maybe a bit bland.
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MindChimera



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vulpeslibertas wrote:
Full disclosure, I haven't actively updated my comic for years. I keep thinking I'll get back to it one day.

Yeah, I remember you mentioning that (I think?) in another thread, but figured you might be prepping to come back to it.

As for being bland, I don't think yours are so much, since you were doing backgrounds. I'd figured you were going for a sort of movie-feel with the whole 3D thing and one-shot panels. If you had a lot of blankspace, that would be a problem.
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Paneling Reply with quote

vulpeslibertas wrote:
Does anybody have a system or set of rules for paneling their comic?


I'm not sure I understand what you are asking about.

Are you looking for stuff like "borderless panels generally feel less anchored in time"?
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Based on what MindChimera said...

My layouts are not at all systematic. Anything but.
I take my script and I divide it into pages based on amount of material and story rhythm, and then I sketch out (very roughly) a storyboard of each page.

When I draw the storyboards, the panel borders are generally the last thing to get on the page. First I sketch the people (or objects, if that's what needs to be shown to get the story across), and then I write in the dialog bubbles, and only then do I worry about where one panel ends and the next one begins.

That's also the point where I decide one image needs to be bigger and another smaller, or that I can crop the image differently, or that these two panels ought to be matching pairs, or that I should move this dialog bubble to there, or whatever. I shift things around until the progression though time seems clear, and I like how the page looks.

If I can't achieve both those goals, then I split the amount of script I have into two pages, and try again.
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Sylvia



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the same panel layout every time (a grid of 6), so panel layouts are something I never have to think about for my comic. I think it's cool when people focus a lot on their layouts and create ones that really work, but sometimes I get lost if it's not clear which order they go in. In general I wish people would make their layouts simpler.
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tend to work very intuitively, so I've had to think about this for quite a bit before I could come up with any rules that I use to decide what I'm going to do.

I think I have figured out what a few of the subconcious rules I was using are, though. I don't know if they will help anyone else, but for whatever they're worth:

1) The fewer panels, the better.
Whatever I have to say, I try to say it with the fewest possible images.

So, if I have two people talking. And there are no particularly important changes in facial expression, I will have one bigger picture of the two of them, and multiple speech bubbles to go with it, rather multiple small pictures that have essentially the same content, with one speech bubble for each.

Bigger, fewer images makes it possible for me to show detail more clearly. If you aren't into detail, maybe there's no advantage to this rule other than to avoid pointless repetition?

Sometimes I will have one person whose body language and facial expression doesn't change much, but the other person's does. So I might have have a tall thin panel with the one person shown in head to toe, allowing for the full display of the body language, and then have beside that two or three panels with the other person's face, showing the various changes in expression. To indicate that the tall panel is continuous with the panels beside it, I can overlap the smaller panels over top of the big panel, or I can widen the first panel and inset the smaller ones into it.

2) Information sets, should be made into visuals sets when possible. The overlapping side panels of facial expressions mentioned above can be made into a " visual set" by making them the same size and spacing them evenly.

3) Balance is pleasing to the mind and the eye. Symmetry is a form of balance that is very static. Other forms of balance have a greater sense of motion.

I could split my page in half and put one person on one side, and one on the other. That's symmetrical. But the long tall side panel versus the three little panels on the other side, is also balanced, and a bit less "stiff".

For Black Flag I often created non-symmetrical balance, by using diagonal lines, which are even more dynamic, but I don't think I ever used that technique with Scent of Spring. Maybe because Scent of Spring has no action, and so I thought the squarer more static forms of balance seemed to suit the feel of the story better?

4) Shape the panels to enhance the art, rather than shaping the art to fit the panel.

5) The most important stuff should usually be given the most space on the page.

6) Think outside the box.
Not all art needs to be confined to a bordered panel. The overlapping panels mentioned in the first rule created a sense that the first panel was continuous. Another way to create the same effect is to layer panel-less artwork over top of multiple panels. Artwork that is layered over other artwork like this, feels more important than it's size and shape would otherwise indicate, but borderless artwork also feels less anchored in time. (That can be a good thing sometimes.)

During action scenes, I frequently layer one image directly over another with no borders between them, creating a sense of continuous flowing movement.

Having an image break out of it's panel border, can create some interesting effects. It can make an action seem more abrupt, extreme or violent. It can create visual tension and a sense of conflict, as one image invades another image's space. It can probably do other things too, that I haven't figured out yet. Smile

And, er, that's all I've figured out so far.
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dpat57
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vulpeslibertas wrote:
Try pressing the Multi-page option in the sidebar.

<slaps head> D'oh! Didn't even notice that!

MindChimera wrote:
@dpat - I think I like your idea quite a bit. It wouldn't work for me (at least in this project) but it accounts for different monitor sizes pretty nicely. But it does look a bit odd since blankspace can creep up when the panels are different heights.

<slaps head again> I should'a taken that into account since I knew that panel was irregular, it needed breaks fore and aft, fixed, thanks. (Then again it was a daft experiment in the first place, I'll avoid in future and keep to my standard panel height... which is defined by the size of my screen as I take a .jpg snapshot.)
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katastrophe



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I started the comic I was only using two basic layouts -- three wide panels, or two wide panels and a third split one. This quickly stopped working out for me. Getting more variety has been an... interesting learning process, for someone who's as non-visual as I am.

My basic workflow these days for panelling and structure:

1) Script. This tells me how many panels I'm going to need. I do panel breaks within the scene depending on people's moods shifting, scene changes, people entering/leaving, etc. As Lavenderbard says, you generally want as few panels as possible per page to get your point across -- it's much better to have a single large panel than a lot of smaller ones.

2) Look at the space requirements. How many people are in the scene? How much dialogue do I have cram in there? Is there important action that I have to be sure people see? If there's been a shift in place from the last page/panel, I'll generally also allow more space in the first panel to let people get oriented to where we are, who's there, et cetera. Aside from size, I should know the general shape that would be best for the panel (a wide panel allows for more people and background elements showing; a tall panel is great for small, close groups of two or three people and showing more body language. That sort of thing.)

3) String together the panel size requirements in such a way that I have a page's worth of panels in a reasonably logical flow.

4) Drink. Smile

At one point I had a little flipbook with various layouts, organized by number of panels: it helped a lot when I was struggling with step 3. I've finally gotten a bit better at this but the flipbook still gets grabbed from time to time.

I still have issues with cramming too much dialogue per panel and per page. At some point I started defining the lengths of my pages as "however long they need to be to fit in all the panels", which helped a bit. I also fight a fair bit with flow, but I'm having trouble vocalizing what I do there and may need to come back later with pictures. Wink And of course there's figuring out the camera angles and who needs to be foregrounded in each panel and remembering to leave space for dialogue and such, which is never-ending fun, but a bit outside the scope of the question....
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iaviv



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do pretty much what MindChimera does, but I don't use the panel tool in Manga Studio (though that is the program I work in). I use the ruler tool - the "create ruler" option (not to be confused with the "draw shape" option) - and the same brush I use for drawing the comic. The ruler tool creates a path that brushes snap to - this way it looks more organic and it matches the art inside the panels.
I thumbnail everything on paper first, but just like MindChimera, I often change things when I find better ways to get something done, or when things simply don't work like they did in the thumbnail.
I'm always trying to think of new ways to use panels, new composition, shapes... but it hardly ever feels appropriate.
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ttallan
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha, my first thought was we'd be talking about paneling at a convention. Panel layouts. OK.

I never really thought of it in terms of rules before, but if I had any rules it would be these:

1) Panels, much like pages, represent story beats. The concept is a bit similar to sentence structure. If the page is the paragraph, the panels are the individual sentences. Just as with any good writing, you want to vary your sentence length and composition to make it interesting. Same goes for panels. Variety is important.

2) As MindChimera said, I keep my panels simple boxes unless something important or dramatic is happening. Unusually-shaped panels, if used sparingly, can be a subtle way of saying to the reader, "pay attention."

3) Panel shape can convey a sense of timing (a lesson I learned from Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics). A series of short or thin panels are great for a fast staccato pace, long horizontal ones can suggest a longer length of time, or a pause for reflection.

4) Sometimes it's funnier or more dramatic for action to happen between panels.

5) I try to make sure at least one panel in each page has enough of a background in it to set the scene, to give a sense of place to the reader. This has changed from my comic book days when I used to think a place-setting panel was only necessary once per scene. Now, for webcomics, it's per page.

6) Word balloons trump panels. There is a "reading order" to panels on a page that I'm sure most of us are familiar with, a sort of top-down and left-to-right pattern, but the eye is naturally going to want to follow the word balloons. You can completely screw up the panel order and frustrate your reader with ill-placed balloons. Conversely, you can have the freedom to draw your panels in whatever crazy way you want if you place the word balloons in such a way as to lead the eye through the page. (See this example of both bad and good panel/balloon combos in a Marvel comic, posted at BleedingCool.)

That's all I got for now.
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Sylvia



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ttallan wrote:
There is a "reading order" to panels on a page that I'm sure most of us are familiar with, a sort of top-down and left-to-right pattern, but the eye is naturally going to want to follow the word balloons. You can completely screw up the panel order and frustrate your reader with ill-placed balloons. Conversely, you can have the freedom to draw your panels in whatever crazy way you want if you place the word balloons in such a way as to lead the eye through the page. (See this example of both bad and good panel/balloon combos in a Marvel comic, posted at BleedingCool.)


I find the first page on that link less confusing. I naturally read panels the same way I read text - left to right, and then down and left. Since there are no obvious cues that the order is otherwise, I naturally assume that that's what it is, especially since the layout is all in rectangles - it looks pretty straightforward to me. In the second one, though, I think it works, but it always throws me off a little when someone changes the standard panel order, unless there are arrows going from one panel to the next. I guess this affects me more than it does for most readers.

Anyway, I think most people would agree that if the reader has to stop and think about the panel layout, it interferes with the flow of the comic.
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