Help! I don’t know where to start with my comic panelling! Any advice? Mary Hasty, US
Answer Koh replies
For comic panelling, I try to try and keep a certain flow in between subjects. I prefer to use diagonals and curves and try to lead the viewer’s eye from one panel to the next, using the placement of characters and other objects so as to do this comfortably.
Though it may be tempting to not stick to plain or simple square panelling, the most important thing to keep in mind is that when you read your own comics, your eyes don’t end up darting all over the page.
A common trick I like to do is to use the direction of where my characters are looking, to maintain a visual flow. If my character is on the left side of the first panel and the second panel has another character on the right, I’ll draw the first character either looking towards the right, or make use of their hair or clothes to “point” towards the right. I also tend to not put characters on the same side of consecutive panels unless it contributes to the story.
Use lots of references when learning about composition because it’s a big topic and the best way to learn is through what others have already done. Keep things simple! Drawing details may be cool but it can also make things very messy. Less is more.
Another important thing is to avoid tangents. Tangents are when two edges are very close together and they create unnecessary and unwanted tension in the image. This is especially so when placing speech bubbles as these bubbles can create tangents with your drawings. Do make a habit of checking your sketches and reworking constantly. I tend to use overlapping panels a lot so tangents are always one thing that I check for.