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Paneling
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dpat57
Ich bin ein webcomicker


Joined: 11 Aug 2008
Posts: 2613
Location: Sunny/wet/windy Scotland

PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ttallan wrote:
(See this example of both bad and good panel/balloon combos in a Marvel comic, posted at BleedingCool.)

Verree eenteresting. Yeah a little arrow would have worked well at that split-level point halfway down the page. Although purely by accident, I think, I read the panels in the right order, shifting left through the split-level bit. Maybe I just followed the "Z". Good sample to point at. Even the pros sometimes don't hit the target gold dead center.
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I'm with Sylvia, the first page in that example is actually correct as far as I'm concerned.

Text in English reads left to right, then top to bottom; you move horizontally before you move vertically. As far as the panels themselves go, panel 4 (the tall one) comes before panel 5 both vertically and horizontally.

What they did in the first page was actually divide into two major cuts: the first three panels are the top cut, and the rest are the bottom cut. Separate the two cuts, and the order makes sense.

But I can see where the confusion comes from, since the right-side bottom cuts are the same width as the right-side top so seems to lead that way. I think it would read easier if, instead of having the last four panels overlay panel 4, have panel 4 lay over them (as well as the bottom-left corner of panel 3). Or just be wider so they're crowded out more.

As for the second page, I kind of wish that site had put up the version without the red line first, because I'm not sure whether I'd make it through or not, haha. I think I could follow it correctly, but I'd be asking myself the whole time "Is this the next panel?" I would probably miss the helicopter panel though.
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 317

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dpat57 wrote:
Yeah a little arrow would have worked well at that split-level point halfway down the page.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo nononon ono onono no nonono on ono ononoo

Arrows are a big pet peeve of mine, haha. To me it's like a big red flag saying "I have no idea what I'm doing" or "I made this layout and it doesn't work but I'm sticking to it."

They really bother me because, in a lot of things I've read, the arrows aren't noticable enough and I miss them. So I end up reading the wrong order anyway, then see the arrows later. It's also one of those little things that sort of takes you out of the story and reminds you it's just a comicbook.
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katastrophe



Joined: 19 Aug 2008
Posts: 286

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah... I have to admit I had no trouble reading the first comic either. "Across then down" is how I read, always. I've never had a reader complain those were hard to follow either (and my readers are refreshingly good about registering complaints.) And I don't think I'd have made the jump to that helicopter either. Maybe we're just freaks. Very Happy

The one they do complain about is this one:



I've never had a comment if the bigger image is first, but I rarely get away with "down then back up" without at least one whimper that they went across to the big image second and it DIDN'T MAKE SENSE.

I can sometimes help by jagging the second panel to the right a bit, so that it cues the "across" reflex. But by far the better way, as ttallan says, is to lead with the voice bubbles. As I am a klutz I've only just figured this out and I'm still quite clumsy with it, but having a voice bubble that breaks panelling -- pokes into the second panel from the first, or vice versa -- works pretty well, as people's eyes will go with the words. (In my case it probably helps that there's so many of them. Very Happy)

The other type I've occasionally had trouble with:



Here the issue seems to be that, presented with equal-sized panels right and below, the readers don't know which way to go. It seems to be solved pretty simply by resizing:



Doesn't actually matter which is bigger or smaller, this time. As long as it's not the same size as the panel below it, people automatically track to the right.

Just my experience though -- there is always the possibility, nay, the likelihood, that my readership are also freaks. Very Happy
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Casual Notice
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Joined: 18 Mar 2005
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Location: Oh my God, It's full of stars!

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the original Casual Notice, I eventually settled into an unstructured drop-format with three-to-five panels floating in the background and all dialog called out to the sides. Yes, yes, I did steal that from Queen of Wands, thank you for asking.

Nebraska City (which I am still working on, but have to clear a few paying projects first) is a 3-4 panel daily-style strip.

Casual Notice: Adventures in History is a single panel.

I'm not an artist, but I've done enough layout to have an idea of what goes with the flow of the words. Kat's mini-guide is a pretty good one, especially for folks who want (hope) to have their comic printed in dead-tree format and don't have the liberties provided by the Infinite Canvas.
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iaviv



Joined: 03 Sep 2011
Posts: 279

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@katastrophe - If the readers are confused by such obvious layouts, it might be because they weren't used properly. You don't just throw panels around and then fill them up with drawings... the drawings tell you what panels you need to use - and you can also use them to lead the eye across the page (same as with speech bubbles, only way better). For example, in the first image this layout works great IF: the third panel is leading your eye from the bottom to the top - instead of the other way around (which can also be solved with a speech bubble, but works just as well with a drawing that goes up. For example, let's say it's a low angle drawing of a building and we're looking at it from way below as it is towering over us. Works great, now. Same goes for every single layout you will ever use or see. Panels are a powerful storytelling tool, not just framing for drawings. Make it all work together.

@MindChimera - I hate arrows as well. I remember seeing one in some Asterix book as a kid and just not getting it. Why not just design the page in a way that makes sense in the first place? It's stupid.
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katastrophe



Joined: 19 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iaviv wrote:
@katastrophe - If the readers are confused by such obvious layouts, it might be because they weren't used properly.


This is almost certainly true. I have no artistic ability whatsoever and have spent the past five years fumbling about trying to gain at least some basic skills. *wry grin* Thanks for the example: that's very helpful and I'll have to work towards being able to see/do that kind of thing in my own stuff.

But yeah. I'm a writer. I tend to fall back on voice bubbles and writing for cues, because that's what I'm good at, and any advice of mine should be taken with that caveat in mind. Smile
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wendyw
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Joined: 10 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MindChimera wrote:
dpat57 wrote:
Yeah a little arrow would have worked well at that split-level point halfway down the page.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo nononon ono onono no nonono on ono ononoo

Arrows are a big pet peeve of mine, haha. To me it's like a big red flag saying "I have no idea what I'm doing" or "I made this layout and it doesn't work but I'm sticking to it."

They really bother me because, in a lot of things I've read, the arrows aren't noticable enough and I miss them. So I end up reading the wrong order anyway, then see the arrows later. It's also one of those little things that sort of takes you out of the story and reminds you it's just a comicbook.


Yeah, I'm not a fan of arrows either. Sometimes they're unavoidable, like if a page is finished and done and then you get feedback telling you it's confusing and don't have the time to make any neccesary changes, but if you're putting them in from the start it is kind of like admitting that you may have missed the mark on it. If you realise that early on enough in the page then change to a more obvious layout instead.
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vulpeslibertas
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
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Location: Here and there...mostly there. Sometimes kinda in between.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree arrows are poor form. It's akin to labeling your character's expressions. :wry grin: It's more of a stand-in for good art.

Not to say that it's always avoidable and that people who do it are bad human beings, but people who do that sort of thing are bad human beings and its totally avoidable. Twisted Evil

It goes back to show, don't tell. In a good comic, the reader doesn't have to stop and figure out how the panels are arranged. In a great comic, they didn't even realize they didn't stop to figure it out.
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smbhax.com
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm reading a collection of Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon Sunday strips from 1935, and while they're gorgeously drawn and colored, sometimes he was so careless about panel flow that he resorted to putting little numbers in the corners of the panels to point out their reading order, because otherwise you'd have been completely lost. : P
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Marscaleb



Joined: 28 Aug 2012
Posts: 258

PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't "cut" or "draw" my panels into my page; my panels float. I think this comes from my having more interest in newspaper comic than comic books and manga, and newspaper comics always float their panels.

I've gravitated toward a general (though not concrete) method of having 12 panels on a page. By default, each the same size, arranged in a grid.

I'm honestly a bit jealous of the comics that use a manga-style and generate new panels for each page, cutting them into new patterns with a great variety of sizes. I would love to move my method more toward one that allows more freedom.

Now some may look at my comic and wonder what I'm talking about with my 12-panel grid talk. I'll get to that.

So here's my process for a page. I take a script that I have already written, and I put the dialogue into a blank template I made. I have guidelines for my basic 12-panel grid, so I know where to start for a basic panel size. Usually, panels fit into this format just fine. Often enough, I have to make a particular panel bigger, add smaller panels, whatever. Anything in regards to this is usually written in as a note, in the file, as text.
For me, a bigger panel means a wider panel. I haven't made a taller panel in ages. I regret this. But I'm too verbose and I have a lot to try to cram into each page, so it's really hard to arrange a page to have more than four rows.

This is done well in advance before I get around to drawing the page, so I can plan the layouts thoroughly. I create my pages to simultaneously work for both print and web, so I need to account for page breaks in the middle of a web's page, add extra panels into the print version for easier transitions, etc.

When I have artwork to put in the page, I start getting creative. Like I said, I have floating panels. This lets me adjust the shape of each panel individually. I look at the individual panel and try to get a grasp on the emotion of that panel, and craft a panel shape that reflects that emotion. Mundane panels get a simple box. If somethings slightly askew, so is the panel. I often use this as a way to convey more subtle emotions that are sometimes hidden.



Panel 1 was meant to feel very dry and bland, so it's a simple square.
Panel 2 was breaking sharply against that dry-and-bland, it cuts against the first panel, and the background almost lines up but doesn't.
Panel 4 was meant to reflect Cherise's hidden emotion; Danson was leaning in too close to her so I made the panel feel a little cramped. In retrospect, this would have been more successful had I bent the middle inward. (I learn a lot of this as I go.)
In panel 7 Cherise is lying by telling the truth. The panel shape looks normal and understandable, but one corner flecks out.

Of course, sometimes I just like to have fun and make the panels interesting, but I've been gravitating more and more to making the panels reflect a proper emotion, but I still experiment a bit to try to uncover what emotions a particular shape can accomplish.

I also try to pay attention to the negative space, gaps between panels carry emotions as well. I especially see what this accomplishes when I composite a page for the web. While I need to fit everything in neatly for a printed page, when I take those panels out for the web, I have a a change to re-arrange them, and I do.

Here's a couple things I've learned:

FOREMOST: The best format for a webcomic layout is a strictly vertical one:
Example: (Not my comic)

This lets the reader scroll down to see each new panel.
There are two main problems with not using this layout: One, the reader can see future panels ahead of time, potentially spoiling a surprise or a joke. Two, long panels next to regular panels can have content missed. For example:
AA BBB
AA BBB
AA CCC
AA CCC
The bottom of A might have dialogue or other important information that the reader does not see before reading B, because it is cut off at the bottom of the monitor. This is not a problem with printed pages, but it is with web pages.

When I lay out my panels for the web, I keep scrolling in mind and try to make my comic read as best as I can in a vertical layout. Instead of having three panel on a row I might have two. I might stagger some panels just to gently lead them down, so more of the page is not seen until the reader gets to that part.

Other notes:
Circle panels draw a lot of focus. If ever there is something important that the reader needs to see, put it in a circle panel You are literally circling an element of the comic, and the reader will focus on it more.

As was mentioned earlier, size of a panel indicates time. It also indicated focus. You could also say that panel size indicates how long the reader should stare at the panel.
Here's another example from a comic that is not mine. Look at the emotion the last panel brings because of its size:

A small panel is great for a quick quip. A large panel or even a splash page demand big focus. Don't use a large panel unless you have a reason to do so.
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