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Panel by Panel: Android Blues and the Full Frame Two-Shot

hpkomic at 5:50AM, July 1, 2022

Hello and welcome to Panel by Panel, an analysis of panels from comics right here on The Duck and exploring what they do, how they work, and what we can learn from them.

This week we will be checking out a panel from the webcomic Android Blues by the user Stahlberg. Our panel this week is from page 344 of the comic.

Our panel is deceptively simple this week, essentially a two-shot, but there is some tricky framing here that tends to go overlooked by artists sometimes. Sometimes objects are not given the same weight of characterization as a person in a panel, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. What I appreciate about this panel is that this VW van ends up being just as much of a character as the human shown in the frame. The whole van being in frame, along with the character's fully extended body is a surprise, especially given the horizontal nature of the panel.

This would not be a go-to angle for me for such a reveal, especially given the pose of the character chosen here and the horizontal nature of the van. If I were depicting this scene I feel like I'd take the easy way out and have the van cut off by my frame, putting the emphasis on the person. I appreciate that this panel went this route and I think compositionally it is more interesting than the common alternative most artists may go for.

Again, this is all deceptively simple stuff going on, but looking at it I get a real sense of framing and craftsmanship, even down the extremely simplified background. The focus here is on two things and neither has precedence over the other and is given the same importance. It's a different way of doing things than I would at first blush and I like it.

What do you think, though? Am I making much adieu about nothing, or does the framing catch anyone else off guard?

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PaulEberhardt at 2:06PM, July 4, 2022

The composition trick reminds me of what the masters of classic ligne claire style and also some Golden Age comic artists did. The things that matter are shown in detail to add realism, anything else in the background is kept as uniform as possible without actually doing away with the background altogether, adding a sense of focus. There's a reason why the classics have become classics, I always say.

PaulEberhardt at 2:03PM, July 4, 2022

It helps if it's an object you're interested in yourself. Take it from me: it's much more fun to draw a cult classic like this good old split-window T2 here than just some generic van. I can well relate here, as I draw a lot of vintage car designs for every street scene I do, just because... well, I feel drawn to them. They used to have some really awesome bodywork designers back in the day that were allowed to use their creativity. I don't need any 3D aid either (which I'm too stupid to use) but I admit to making loads of photo reference for myself at vintage car fairs and antiquity auctions, shooting the real thing from as many angles as they let me. I know I could still do a decent drawing of a car model I'm bored with, but my heart wouldn't be in it and it would show. I'm nevertheless puzzled at how many comic artists, even professional ones, seem to be curiously bad at drawing cars, and I love seeing an eye candy like this panel where everything is just the way as it should be.

Ironscarf at 6:07AM, July 2, 2022

The misty background gives this a sort of iconic quality that you wouldn't have if there was a lot of linework going on back there and having the character reaching up like that to the full height of the panel almost looks like he's about to pull down a shutter, as if to close a chapter on what's gone before. It's a very eye grabbing panel.

Stahlberg at 12:58PM, July 1, 2022

Thanks for this article, and for the kind words guys! sorry my updates are so slow but I'm a bit obsessive about the art... :)

Amelius at 10:45AM, July 1, 2022

(and that absolutely is not a knock on using 3d models as aid btw-- it's an extremely useful tool and when used right really enhances what an artist can bring to their work! Just wanted to clarify!)

Amelius at 10:40AM, July 1, 2022

It's good framing yes! And letting the background be a hazy, foggy atmospheric element that doesn't crowd the figures with detail is the kind of restraint I don't possess! If you can draw a convincing vehicle, there's no reason to hide it off panel, says I. Though I have it on good authority that most of the well drawn vehicles I see used aid of 3d models these days, those of us still doing it freehand feel a little less confident letting that have as equal weight for scrutiny as the character! But this is very good composition, all elements look great and the environmental storytelling gets the point across nicely!

bravo1102 at 8:24AM, July 1, 2022

It sets up the whole escape, even down to a leg of the costume hanging out tge door. Yahoo, escape from a horrible situation foreshadowed in full in the one panel.

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