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Extremely Medium

Banes at 12:00AM, March 21, 2024

There is a lot to understand about “camera shots” in comics - it's an endless journey for people who make comics, or movies, or any kind of visual art.

MEDIUM shots (see above) might be the most common shot in webcomics - or at least, they have been the most common, historically. This is a shot that's usually of a character or characters from the waist up.

This kind of shot (or “bigger” shots like wide shots) can give a sense of place, and of the characters' expressive body language and some action.


CLOSEUPS generally have characters from about the shoulders up. This is the second most common shot in comics. Ideal for conversation, and since we're closer on the faces, we can see emotion more clearly.
A common variation is the tighter closeup that cuts off the character's chin and top of their head, to really zoom in on the emotion and intensity on the face. This is an effective one for sure!


The Extreme Closeup Shot zooms right in on a particular feature of a person, action, or piece of an object or environment. I think of this as a more stylized shot. It emphasizes the importance of a particular element or change…like a mouth becoming a frown, or eyes narrowing. A powerful shot indeed!

I guess the spark for this article came from the idea that this little scene is quite a different reading experience depending on what kind of camera shots are used.

Of course, to state the obvious, there normally isn't a page full of just one kind of shot. It's mixing them together that makes a page, a scene, a chapter and a story work.

Technically, closeups can be medium closeups, over-the-shoulder shots, etc. Medium shots can be better defined sometimes as “two shots” when there are two characters together in the frame. You have bird's eyeview, worm's eyeview, and so on - I'd say the Medium, Wide, Closeup and Two-Shot variations are the ones I use pretty much automatically and regularly. I don't often think of an extreme closeup, but they are definitely effective when used in the right place!

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dpat57 at 12:40PM, March 22, 2024

Now you're legally obliged to make a one-page comic out of these panels. Which might well roll out to 50 pages if you're not careful. Pigtails == undercover KGB, right?

JohnCelestri at 8:23AM, March 22, 2024

Coming from a traditional animation background, I tend to like camera angles that allow me to show the character using body language to help sell what's going on in the panel. I also like to shift the camera to imply the pacing of character dialog and action.

Tantz_Aerine at 5:59AM, March 22, 2024

Closeup shots should be used only when something important is happening in terms of reactions. At least that's how I consider their proper use XD Something milestone level worthy has just transpired- the villain grins at the ploy having taken, the hero's shocked eyes at what they're just realizing, a tender gesture after a heartfelt interaction, and so on and so forth. Great article!

PaulEberhardt at 8:29PM, March 21, 2024

Interesting article, again! Waist-up shots may also have something to do with comics' long history of being a printed medium. On paper, you have to make best use of the limited space and the page size you get (same for screen sizes in a movie), and even in a wider shot you want your characters' facial expressions to be recognisable. Charles M. Schultz's advice is excellent. The way I often don't force myself to stop halfway down when drawing my characters (as I probably should in many cases!) is due to a combination of not using panel borders and imagining the comic as a stage - even if neither is actually an excuse. If it wasn't a webcomic, I probably wouldn't do that; it's kind of experimenting with a scrollable medium and in fact a conscious choice (most of the time). Please note I never said it always works out. ;)

Ozoneocean at 5:07PM, March 21, 2024

Hahaha! Because i work so closely with Banes on Bottomless Waitress and our collab project with Tantz, Key of Dreams, banes is literally. directly how I draw. So my recent work has been filled with medium shots! ^_^ Banes is a very good director I will have you know.

bravo1102 at 1:41PM, March 21, 2024

With the coming of wide screen cameras, wide shots could be used for more that panoramas or creating a sense of place. There could also be interaction across the screen. Rather than cutting back and forth or even making the viewer conscious of the camera, a wide shot can be a conversation of its own showing how the figures interact and move across the stage more like a stage play than a movie. Cameras and viewpoints are very conscious choices of the artist and sometimes it's best left to the viewer to make of the shot what they will and insinuate nothing. Gosh me going on. You'd almost think I knew something about the topic of Mise-en-scene

bravo1102 at 1:33PM, March 21, 2024

Funny Charles Schultz said "only draw what you need" because D.W. Griffith said only include what is necessary in the frame. So in a medium shot, what is most important and that is how you frame the shot. Kurosawa and Sergio Leone did extreme close ups as reaction shots. The eye or mouth is the character reacting to something. Bondarchuk also used it very effectively. As the soldiers ready their weapons the camera zooms in on Napoleon's eye. The command "fire" is given. It's all about the flinching and widening of the eye in that split second.

usedbooks at 12:19PM, March 21, 2024

My brother and I were channel surfing back in the days before streaming and ended up transfixed by the camera angles of a soap opera. Character 1 far, says line. Switch to character 2 far, who says a line. Char 1 closer, says line. Char 2 closer, says line. Each line spoken brought the camera a step closer on the speaker until it was an uncomfortably close shot. Then the scene would change, and it would repeat.

J_Scarbrough at 9:57AM, March 21, 2024

As I've said before, whenever I work on VAMPIRE GIRL (or any sort of an ongoing comic for that matter), I always approached the visual storytelling aspect from a perspective that the panels were like a series of still frames from an animated series or movie. I know most comic artists, like Charles Schulz, would adhere to the, "Only draw what you need" practice, in that if its not important, don't draw it . . . be that as it may, mine is a painstakingly detailed artstyle, and I really like to leave some king of sensory impact on the readers - whether that impact is visually, mentally, or emotionally. Also, being an independent filmmaker and content creator in general, that also has a tremendous influence on how I frame the shots in the panels, and the overall layout and composition of the strip/page.

Ironscarf at 9:08AM, March 21, 2024

There must be something very effective about medium shots as a lot of popular comics consist of almost nothing but. Extreme close ups are magic if used right. I always think of Sergio Leone's spaghetti western eye shots, though maybe he got that frow Kurasawa, I can't remember now.

Banes at 7:10AM, March 21, 2024

@bravo - Ha, that's true. You're one of the few comic makers using a literal camera.

bravo1102 at 4:56AM, March 21, 2024

I actually see it all through a camera lens. Oftentimes I don't decide on a close up until I get to putting a page together and zoom in and crop the shot.

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