In comics, where there are often many competing elements on a page, a crowd scene can really eat into a schedule. The ways in which I’ll deal with them usually fall into one of three categories.
First, there’s the “I’m not sure… there seems to be… a lot of them.” This technique involves placing the reader’s point of view so far from the action that they can’t really make out numbers or many specific details. Using an overhead shot, I can really emphasise the scale of the crowd.
Next, there’s the “Woah – just pull back there a little, please” approach. Here I’ve placed the camera right in the throng, at a low angle. By crowding the panel – and thereby, crowding the reader – I can suggest large numbers without actually showing them. This shot is useful for when I need to highlight the characters that make up the crowd, rather than merely its size.
Finally, there’s the “Sorry, could you just… I can’t quite…” method. Inevitably, a script will come along that calls for a large panel that sells both the scale of the crowd and the characters it comprises. A shot like this will inevitably be quite timeconsuming to compose, but even here I can economise a little.
By placing the two besieged characters in shadow and close to the camera, I can eclipse a lot of detail that I’d otherwise have to draw in full. This also helps create a sense of depth and clarity in a panel that could easily just become a morass of detail.
By filling an image right to the edges, I can suggest a big crowd, even with a small panel.