Making a Web Comic Part II: Paneling
The second most important part of a webcomic (or any comic for that matter) is paneling. This sounds simple, but really, its not. When considering a Panel layout you should consider what is happening in that Scene.
Is this an introduction, a love scene, or an action scene? These seem to be the most common types of scenes (in my opinion). The introduction scene generally builds up the story. Not all introduction scenes are introducing someone, they are mostly just informative and help to further the plot. Here is an example link
Introduction Scenes have a tendancy to be boxy, and form fitting. Rarely do they have empty space or action lines. They follow a concise order. In the example above you can see that your eye easily follows the conversation because you read left to right and up to down (at least in America). This is simple and lets your readers skim through the less important scenes, but still retain all the information needed to further the plot. Introduction Scenes are most common and should be your main form of Paneling throughout your comic. This puts more emphasis on the alternative scenes that you do less often. Plus its easier ^_^
Love scenes dont always express love
to put it simple they help to express emotion. These often have free floating panels as shown in this example link
Notice how the panels seem to float and overlap depending on importance? This is what you want in your love scenes. Sharp angles are good for fear and anger, where as round panels are better for love and curiosity.
Most popular are the Action Scenes. Everyone loves a bit of excitement! These are fun to start out with in a comic because they draw the readers attention and curiosity. You can never go wrong if your comic starts with an action scene, just dont make it your main focus. Action can get stressful if its there all the time, and youll loose your readers after 10 pages of straight action. Action scenes often have wide, unlimited panels with a few free floating panels for sequence of events as seen in this example link
Notice how the angle of the first panel follows the angle of the car, giving it more of a dramatic look. This is something to consider while planning the composition of your comic.
So youve seen a few examples of good panel layout, but how do you know whats right for your comic?
There are different methods of choosing your panels. The beginner way is to start out with a pre-made panel and draw inside the lines. The advanced (and much more time consuming) way is to draw all the scene/sequences you plan on putting into your page and create a panel look from it on the computer. This is what Girl Genius does, and I find it highly appealling.
Here are some resources to some pre-made panels that Ive done: link link link link link link link link
All of these are Introduction panels, with a slight exception on the 5th one. It is important to do your own love and action panels because the layout should be different for each situation. If you dont like any of the examples Ive given, or if theyre not quite what youre looking for then you can make your own very easily with post-it notes! Just go to your local Staples and you will find a wide variety of different sized post-its, even hearts! This makes it very easy to keep your lines straight and conformed.
Thats pretty much all for now, I may add some more to this later (when Im not going through heat stroke). Just remember that the bigger the panel the more important that particular instance is.
© Teshia Lyndall 2007 lyncomics.comicgenesis.com