Comic Layout Process

One of my former Kubert School students, Angie Fernot, asked a question in the comments of a previous post and I thought others might be interested in the answer.

Angie asked, “Are all those sketches on your drawing table different possible layouts for panels?”


Yep. That’s exactly what they are. Usually my process for laying out a page goes something like:

1. BEAT
– what moment that panel in the story functions as (action/reaction/dialogue/exposition etc.)
– when I’m writing, really I’m primarily nailing down what beats the story needs, so this is figured out in the script.

2. ACTING
– how the characters will act out the scene
– what their body language and expression is
– what the staging is (where characters are in relation to each other — are they facing each other, standing shoulder to shoulder etc.)

3. ANGLE
– once I know the beat, and acting, I’ll start moving the camera around to see what shot shows that beat as A) clearly as possible and B) as dramatically as possible.

4. COMPOSITION
– this is just fine tuning the shot. Making things bigger/smaller, scooting over etc. Half of this is done in the layout stage, the other in Photoshop during the penciling stage when I adjust the size/position/scale again.
– also leaving enough room for word balloons and sound effects in composition stage.

 

The image in this post shows me trying to work out the acting/staging of the characters as they celebrate good news. The list of numbers in the top right is the six panels on the page and what the beats for each panel are.

 

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