Hello everyone, and welcome to Panel by Panel, a periodic exploration of comic panels around The Duck. This week I wanted to try something different. I'd like to ask you all some questions. I have plenty more panel analysis articles, but I also want to mix things up.
I have made a tidy little nest for myself here on the Duck. I've been here off and on since the early days, and I've always found the community here to be pretty welcoming. I always strive to give back where I can. I found Panel by Panel a fun way to do this, but I think I can do more.
So, I will ask you two questions and appreciate your responses.
First, this is a general question about your comic process: How do you decide on your panels? This is a big question, so let me add to this a bit more: do you envision your stories in the language of film? Do you have some go-to panel types you use? Do you see something you like and want to borrow? What is your thought process when figuring out how a panel will look? You can even give us a specific panel and explain how it came about.
I know it's a lot, and it may sound like me asking you to articulate the inarticulable. But I think there is some value in explaining ourselves in our own terms.
That leads to my second question: would you be interested in design challenges? Periodically, Panel by Panel would present a panel prompt or style, and you find examples of that in your own work to share or try drawing it in your update that week. If you have done the panel before in your work, excellent. If you haven't, try it that week, or draw a one-off panel for practice. I can then share those results in a later article.
I love seeing responses to my posts, and I feel like making this more interactive could be interesting. But what do you think?
I will continue to find panels on different comics and spotlight them as I have been. But I would like to branch out every once in a while. As readers, you should have some say in this, after all.
Lastly, a little shameless self-promotion: I have launched a webcomic discussion hashtag on Mastodon called Webcomic Talk. There was a lack of that sort of thing on the platform, so I took the initiative to start one. We recently did our first talk, but I invite you to join us at the next one. The questions are posted on Wednesdays.
Okay, that's it on my part. Thanks for reading!
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Panel By Panel: Let Me Ask You Somethinghpkomic at 12:53PM, Feb. 24, 2023
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hpkomic at 8:02PM, March 2, 2023
Oh, as for the webcomic talk link, the @ was replaced by unicode, it should be: https://comics.town/@webcomictalk
hpkomic at 8:00PM, March 2, 2023
Hey Skyangel, I keep a Google Doc for my records, I'll start including that in future posts: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fHd4hcYN1zehZe-7zE1Rl28VGClZGgJS5_JI8DLysuI/edit?usp=sharing
skyangel at 11:51AM, Feb. 28, 2023
I always look forward to your posts on the home page as they are not only interesting and informative but also focus on comics based here which has a lovely community spirit to it. I rather wish you could collect all these posts and have them grouped in one place so I could go through the archive more easily, as I'm sure I've missed a few. Comment space is limited here too! ----------------For question 1: I tend to see every panel in my mind as though it were on a TV screen which is why I normally prefer to work on a fairly rigid six panel page but now and then I see that a shot works best in widescreen or as a pan so change my layout. ---------------- For question 2: I think that's a great idea! It will not only keep me hanging around for longer but as I'm not making comics now I'll be able to play more, so yea, I'm in on that as it sounds great fun!------------------------- Lastly: The link for 'Webcomic Talk' came up as an error for me. Is that because I'm UK or is it faulty?
HawkandFloAdventures at 6:22PM, Feb. 25, 2023
Mine are between 2-4 panels. Sometimes 1 I make mine solely for practicality as I put my comics on lots of different sites. I make them so they can be read vertical scroll or left to right.
PaulEberhardt at 11:37AM, Feb. 25, 2023
Trial and error, especially error, those are the keywords for me, as I try to get on paper all the stuff that happens, and that I imagine as live action as well. Most of the time, I kind of pretend that it plays out on a stage, which has always helped me a lot with how to position my characters. I realise that that causes a slight drawback of relatively uniform panels, so I add some smaller stuff in between and arrange it in a controlled chaos, hopefully creating a flow. Or, failing that, every which way they fit. ;) It's the advantage of picture book style that you have a bit more freedom of moving them around (and can do without panel borders). I might do something different with another comic in the long run, but my top priority, artwise, is getting my old one going again. If some panels from my archive happen to catch your eye, though, feel free to add them to the list.
Ironscarf at 11:08AM, Feb. 25, 2023
It's all live action in my mind, which I'll write more as notes/reminders than a script. To create panels I'll pick out what I think are the key moments then start thumbnailing - trying various options but not thinking of page layout. When I happy I'll load what I think are the most effective thumbs into Inkscape and start creating balloons and adding dialogue. From this point I might change some or all of the panels before starting any serious drawing in Clip Studio. The art, balloons, captions and SFX whill then develop together and at some point I'm going to decide one or more panels will benefit from a different viewpoint/angle which I'll soon regret having to draw. I'm also conscious throughout of how I'm going to divide the page into a vertical scroll format, which adds more tricky decisions into the mix. I wouldn't say I have any go to panels as such, but I've studied a lot of comic art over the years and some of that is bound to creep in.
RobertRVeith at 10:07AM, Feb. 25, 2023
Panel layout is very intuitive for me. I don't know if I do it well… I just know I don't put too much thought into it. I have an awareness that some panels need to be large because I want to show a lot of detail, because there's a lot going on, or because I have a lot of text to put in there also. Other panels can be small because they're just supposed to capture a second, an impression, a quick detail. I want a page to have a sense of "scene," so that a reader has a sense of story moving forward even if they just read the one page.
usedbooks at 9:34PM, Feb. 24, 2023
My page layout is very trial and error. I play with thumbnails to figure out how to get a decent dialogue and/or action flow. More horizontal and regular-shaped panels for calm scenes, vertical and weird shapes for active/tense. I like an establishing shot of the setting whenever there is a scene change. For emotional moments, sometimes I like to show a close-up of body language. Not all my choices are about storytelling. Sometimes I make choices based on my current state of mind and what I feel capable of drawing at the time. (That is a terrible way to tell a story, but sometimes it's either compromise or complete burnout.)
Ozoneocean at 9:02PM, Feb. 24, 2023
In my comics my main rule is to have at least ONE sexy panel on every page that grabs reader attention. by that I mean something exciting. It could indeed be a sexy woman, but just as often it's mecha, a big wide angle view of an interesting scene, an action panel or something else. It's great to have that as the anchor and then you work around it. You can have more simple talking heads or more boring angles and less imaginative compositions for the other panels and get away with it.
dragonsong12 at 7:20PM, Feb. 24, 2023
I suppose I start with the script, divide it up into what will go in each panels and then decide which of those divisions is the most important to the page. That panel is then granted the most space and other panels are more or less planned around it. I also try to make sure I don't duplicate angles or poses on a page (unless it's intentional - like for comedic purposes or to show time passing) and yeah, while I never studied cinematic language, I do envision things in motion and try to think of them in those terms. (Like not breaking the 180 rule and such.) All that said, I have no head for design, so I know my paneling is shockingly basic. I probably wouldn't enter any challenges since coming in last a lot is a bummer and I need to use that time for my comics! Haha! But it'd be neat to see what more design-oriented users came up with, could inspire me!
ksteak at 5:45PM, Feb. 24, 2023
I believe comics should exist by their own merit and not be just seen as a stepping stone into film and tv. So I hesitate to say I think in such a manner, but I can also be lazy when it comes to repetition in a sequence and prefer to use speech bubbles in a single panel where I can get away with it, rather than step it out with a separate panel each time. So while repetition is a big thing that comics can get away with, it's not something I utilise unfortunately. On the other hand I've been drawing them for so long now that I think I do have them in my head as a comic first and foremost. Much more as a play, certainly for scenes of groups of characters.
J_Scarbrough at 4:09PM, Feb. 24, 2023
Basically for my panels, I think of how I envision the scene contained within the panel would look as a still frame from an animated show or film . . . I guess, in a sense, you could say that I take a storyboard-like approach . . . the main difference is, of course, taking the word balloons into consideration, and how to ensure the layout and composition of the panels can adequately allow for enough room to include the word balloons without covering up too much of the visual aspect of the panels.
marcorossi at 2:29PM, Feb. 24, 2023
To the first question: I have my story divided in chapters and then scenes (of 3-6 pages each). Then when I start working on a scene I write it down in panels, I use a benchmark of roughly 5 panels per page. Some panels I just write down "X says Y", other panels I use film language to describe (I learnt some terms on manuals in italian, I don't know the english equivalents). Then when I draw each page (in CSP), I start with a rectangle that fills the page (minus the margins) and first cut it in strips, and then cut the strips in panels. This is way faster than creating each panel singularly and also IMHO gives a more dinamic and readable layout. To the second question: no, I see that many authors partecipate in this kind of challenge, but I simply don't have the time.